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.