Why building new leaders is critical.

My core belief about leadership is that my main role as a leader is to develop new leaders. When I say leaders I’m talking about every person in the organisation. Teachers are leaders of learning, admin staff are leaders of non-teaching staff and executive school leaders have a broader role of leadership within the school and beyond.

Reflecting on 2015 at my school I have the satisfaction of seeing the development of leadership in many ways. I have official leadership positions at my school which provide different input acrosss a number of roles. The start of 2016 will see a brand new team which is very exciting. To paint a brief picture of the scenario here is a break down of my leadership team.
– 2 x School Leader C – Professional Practice (classroom teaching focus)
– 2 x School Leader C – Executive Teacher (instructional coaches)
– 1 x School Leader B – Deputy Principal
– 1 x School Leader A – Principal (me)

Developing new leaders is important for many reasons, not the least being to ensure the sustainability of school improvement approaches beyond the tenure of any one school leader. Succession planning is a critical factor in ensuring that strategies which are working don’t walk out the door with the Principal.

One of the most satisfying success stories for me personally in 2015 was to see my Deputy Principal appointed as a substantive Principal. Many of my colleagues commented that I have “lost my Deputy” but to me it was a great feeling to have played a part in developing a colleague’s leaderhip and help them to achieve their goal of being a Principal. It was also satisfying to see both of my substantive Executive Teachers develop their careers in new settings. One of them won a Deputy Principal role in Victoria whilst the other was appointed as a founding school leader in Canberra’s newest public school which is opening this year. I view being a part of their leadership development has not seen me ‘losing’ them but in fact developing them to have a broader impact beyond the boundaries of my own school.

When staff move on and gain promotion in other schools it could be a major concern in some places. I believe that it is quite the contrary at our school for one simple reason. That being, we have been developing the next layer of school leaders for the past few years. My leadership stance includes a strong commitment to empowering others to lead, provide them with the reources and support they need then get out of their way and watch the fly. We’ve provided leadership opportunities in both official acting roles as well as leadership roles which don’t come with a title. All of these opportunities have provided staff with the time required to develop their capacity as leaders in authentic environments. So when three of my executive staff left we were able to capably replace each one of them with amazing people. In fact two of my classroom teachers have won the executive teacher roles and one of my professional practice executive will be stepping up to deputy for term one. Far from being a disaster it is really an invigorating new team that inspires me to start the year with tremendous hope and zest.

Being part of developing new leaders is not only an honour and a privilege but is also an obligation which every school leader needs to take seriously. The ACT School Principal age profile will see an alarming number of Principals retiring in the next 5-10 years. We need to ensure that the next group of dynamic leaders are poised to take the reigns and guide our amazing schools into the future.

Reflection is a major contributor to forward thinking for me as a leader. As I reflect upon my impact as a Principal I will always consider my ability to develop leadership in others as a major strength which I am very proud of.

8 thoughts on “Why building new leaders is critical.

  1. Jason, such words of wisdom!
    It is vital that all teachers are encouraged to grow and lead to the capacity that suits them.
    It is also vital that the Principal is aware of the aspirations of his staff. I love your nurturing attitude & commend you current practice!
    Cheers Audrey Nay

  2. I really enjoyed reading this post. Your educational philosophy and views towards building leadership density within your school are admirable. Not all principals have this view. Equally valuable are your tweets on leadership which I religiously read and retweet. This is only my third year as an AP despite a long teaching career and I’d like to think (hope) that when the time comes I’ll be supported (by being given opportunities, PL and projects ) by my current or future principal to step up to a Deputy position. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I hope that you experience the type of leadership that empowers you to achieve your goals.

  3. Hi Jason
    As the school year is about to begin I find your words so refreshing and very 21st Century! As the previous person said not all feel the way you do and they often stifle initiative. Why? I have just started following you and look forward to reading your tweets on leadership. After much travelling and family I am now in a position where I would like to explore leadership opportunities, if I am fortunate enough I hope I am able to encourage others as you do

    • Hi Phil.
      Yeah, I’d love to catch up. I’m in Sydney on occasion for work meetings etc. Where are you located for work/home?

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