Gratitude: a leader’s secret weapon

Calling school leaders everywhere! 

Think of 10 words to capture your feelings about the last 18 months?  I dare you, write them down. [stage direction: pause/breathe …….]

Was the concept of generosity and gratitude anywhere in the mix?  You may think this a crazy thought, given the challenges you have faced and feeling now beyond exhaustion.

Consider now, speak to yourself, and say with sincerity, ‘I did well’ – by any effective measure of success I have achieved outstanding outcomes this year.  

Read and complete the following sentences:

  • [name of pupil] was fed because I made sure school meals were provided
  • [name of staff] was protected because I put a support package in place for their [child, parent, baby, own health needs], I put them before myself.
  • [name of parent] was supported because I [phoned, visited the house, set up systems] and as a result that parent received [………………………….]
  • [name of family member] deserves my thanks for […………………….] throughout the pandemic.

Add as many sentences as you can, you will fill a page at least.  These are your true measures of success, but will they appear as significant in your formal evaluation processes as we take stock and consider our plans for 2021/22.  

To help practically, take stock of these #Leader5aDay tips for your setting’s self-evaluation records this year; P.E.A.C.E. (Praise, Edify, Accept, Capture and Explore)


Be generous with your sincere praise of the team around you (home and school).  Who stood with you through the unchartered waters?   Let them know, coach them to channel this gratitude through the culture of the school while you still can.


Allow emotions to be expressed, they all have their place and purpose, not a sign of weakness.  Flip the focus on them to help the individual or group move forward.  Grieve with those who grieve, hope with those that hope and lead by example in celebrating what an awesome achievement it has been to come through, enabling staff and pupils to grow.  Remember Maslow; emotional wellbeing is the bedrock of healthy development in all other areas, including academic progress. 


Use hard facts, statistics, and case studies to celebrate how your leadership helped protect lives, won hearts, and enabled pupils to see that they are known, loved, protected, and still belong.  The evidence is tangible, given all that you now survey beyond your office. Few leaders I have spoken to recently are using the evidence to clarify exactly how much has been achieved socially, emotionally, physically, and academically for staff, pupils, and their wider families.


Be honest about the lessons learnt within yourself and let them shape who are, stronger in character and relationship with those you now lead into 2021/22.  Check back over the June blog and use the START, STOP, RE-SET, REPEAT, REVIEW process in planning the year ahead with your teams.  As in any time of trial, we grow rapidly and find new ways of working, often better than those we had before.

[5] Explore the possibilities

Switch up the negatives and do what you tell the staff to do; be solution focused.  Do not just come with problems but EXPLORE the options for driving forward into new uncharted waters. 

Takes this PEACE and let it settle your mind to create new hope, energy, and vision for an even better future that the pre-Covid norm.   ‘Catch up’ or ‘move on’ to an even better place?  Find in these 5-a-day your true measures of success in the year ahead.

Oh and ………… first breath!

PS.  If you have any top-tips for harnessing a ‘culture of gratitude’ – do share.

PPS. Every Friday, we celebrate a team member of #TeamADL – grateful for who they are and what they bring to the team. Do check out our weekly celebration social media posts. Do also check out our SEND Leaders’ Appreciation Wall


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