How To Be An Effective Leader Within Your SLT
Published on 20/07/16
A leader is best when people barely know they exist. When the work is done and the aim fulfilled, their team will say: "We did it ourselves".
People are often quick to find fault in those who hold the responsibility to oversee operations and implement changes. It is incredibly easy to point fingers and complain about issues in any arena; as we all have on many occasions. With that being said, instead of simply highlighting problems and dwelling on them, it is the discussion of solutions that will drive any school, business or organisation into improvement.
Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.
Leadership is about establishing widely agreed upon, worthwhile directions for the school and doing whatever it takes to encourage and empower people to move in those directions.
As mentioned in one of our previous posts: The Top 5 Challenges Facing School Business Managers - we discussed how it isn't always easy to implement change without rocking the boat a little. New ideas, practices and structures aren't always going to be in the favour of everyone you present them to; that being said, without change there is no room for real progression. So rock away - just be careful not to fall in.
(Direction + Influence) + Stability = Effective Leadership + Improvement
It is the direction and influence that drives any team into improvement; however, leaping forward from unstable foundations doesn't produce change. It is the stability of the direction and influence that leads to effective leadership and subsequently - improvement.
Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence & making sure that impact lasts in your absence.
In order to understand what it means to be a truly effective leader, it's important to identify the attributes of weak leaders. Research suggests that weak leaders:
- Focus on allocating blame
- Take opposing opinions personally without understanding the opposition
- Tell people how to do something instead of what to do and allowing them to do it
- Don't provide adequate direction
- Belittle team members
- Take all the credit
- Don't follow through with commitments
- Don't provide honest feedback
- Criticise when things don't go to plan
- Never rock the boat: Don't make courageous decisions for fear of failing
- Follow the well-worn path: Significant lack of innovation
- Know it all: Already think they have all the answers
- Delegate poorly, micro-manage and control
- Don't listen to those they lead and charge recklessly ahead
"Most people don't listen with the intent to understand - they listen with the intent to reply." - Stephen R Covey
"Hearing is a physiological or sensory activity where our auditory connections transmit information to the brain. Listening is something entirely different. Listening = interpreting and understanding. It means deriving meaning from what has been heard; it is a psychological, not physiological process."
- Richard Andrews: "I Hear What You Say!"
So what attributes make for effective leadership?
There has been significant research conducted into contributors of effective leadership. From this research we have identified key attributes and behaviours that you should emulate within your school's senior leadership team.
- Evaluate the situation: Assess what is happening in order to prepare, respond and act appropriately.
- Build vision and set direction: Establish a clearly defined plan and strategy in order to set measurable KPIs to establish individual and team goals.
- Listen and learn: Remember you have two ears and one mouth; understand any challenges or concerns of your team - remain humble and open.
- Understand and develop: Foster intellectual stimulation and model appropriate values and behaviours.
- Encourage and empower: Give credit when things go well and taking responsibility when they don't.
- Identify strengths and limitations: Train, assign and encourage - then get out of the way.
- Never stop learning: Constantly improve on your skills by perpetually learning through research and the people in your team.
- Set directions: Venture off the beaten track, be sure of your direction, make your own trail and act boldly.
- Earn your authority: Understand that in a position of power, authority is earned and not granted.
- Helping hand: Offer help and advice to team members for them to find success.
- Always lead by example: If your team notice your lack of dedication it will be reflected in their own attitudes and behaviour.
- Respond to morale: Know that motivation by force destroys morale; people who believe in themselves will do more work and better work.
Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish.
Listen → support → develop → mentor → recognise → reward.