Hopes Dreams and Reality

Create your new reality

Welcome back to school/college/settings wherever you are!  Are you feeling excited, full of energy and hope?  Have you, perhaps, had that annual dream where you wonder if the people you lead will find out at last that you are a fraud and just as human and flawed as anyone (or is that just me?)  

Winston Churchill is quoted in 1952 as saying, ““It is no part of my case that I am always right.” True measures of success (#TMOS) in inspiring leadership behaviours must include integrity, honesty, and a good dose of reality; this has to start within yourself. He also wrote in his diaries about his dark moments in life, often when he had experienced professional failure or loss, referring to it as his ‘black dog,’ – a Victorian phrase to depict low mood. ‘Black dog on my back’ is a phrase that we might translate as ‘got out of bed on the wrong side today.’  You will have hopes and dreams about how this year will pan out for you, your family, your school/college/setting.  You have overcome SO much over last 24 months and know that some of those ‘black dogs’ may still reappear in the months to come.   So how can you face the juxta position of hopes, dreams and the realities that work and life are about to launch at you?    

How honest are you really ….? Take my 3-step challenge in creating the healthy culture in your setting to achieve the most effective and productive work ethic among your team than you have ever seen!

Challenge 1

If you don’t already, commit this year to writing a journal for yourself.  It is by far the most powerful method of honest self-reflection and improvement in self leadership, thus, effective leadership of others.   Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln did it so it should be good enough for us.   Keep it personal and private, but let it be a key priority in your scheduled working week.  This is my Friday afternoon when everyone else has gone home, I sit in my office or nip into a coffee shop, hotel bar on the way home and commit to spending an hour in reflective writing, thinking, and feeding strategic ideas onto my to do list for the following week(s) (see previous blogs on time management).  This is no fluffy in the clouds leadership rhetoric; this is rubber hits the road, get gritty with the issues starting with yourself approach to truly shifting the seemingly immovable mountainous problems you face in life and in your workplace.  This IS the place where battles are won, enemies defeated and that budget deficit, the challenging teacher, the poor results, the recovery from an inadequate OFSTED grading ….. are overcome. 

Challenge 2

Tweet / Whatsapp, etc (or whatever is your preferred methods of venting) only positive vibes this year, commit to have deep and meaningful debate face to face, not in texts without body language, tone of voice or the true intentions of integrity and honest role modelling. Use challenge 1 as part of your process in problem solving before you react; remember the adage, ‘act in haste, repent at leisure’. Seek wise counsel from others for those deeper issues, you do not have to have all the answers at your fingertips to prove you are an effective leader. Strategically map out who your go to wise counsel members would be.   For me, I have 7 key people with key skills and credibility around business, finance, mental health, family and of course leadership.   Who are they for you, write down your list and be determined to diary in regular catch-up sessions with them regularly through this year.  Coach others to then do the same …. Achieve this this year and you will see a significant and measurable impact on your team’s impact and outcomes. I dare you to prove this true in your world.

Challenge 3

Encourage a culture of safe honest professional debate to feed your journaling and deeper decision-making behaviours. Replace some of you staff meeting time with Seminar style discussion.   One year I scrapped staff meetings altogether in favour of this approach and I cannot put into words the impact this had on our teams and sense of professionalism.   Get in touch to explore this further and how you might dip you toe into this shift in culture.  To start with some staff were sceptical and confused; particularly those who feel success is ticking the boxes of ‘jobs done’.  i.e., I have done my job well when I have submitted my planning on time, written my subject action plan and filed it away, ordered the teaching resources and planned a staff meeting.   Again #TMOS.   Try these for healthy alternatives:

  • X% teachers appraisals include SMART goals around impact of action-based research project on a cohort of pupils.
  • Targeted subject action plans are based on research/evidence-based teaching pedagogy and direct input from nationally accredited subject leaders (university departments, maths hubs, etc)
  • School improvement plan includes the above approach and the jobs list associated with it are directly linked to #TMOS you have identified
  • If OFSTED is due for you, you will only challenge staff in regard to the above points knowing that they will be the true measures of success that get you the Good or Outstanding grades.

Are you up for any or all these challenges?  If you want to challenge me back or discuss your steps towards these for a truly productive year, get in touch #Leader5aday



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