Wednesday, 21 May 2014


It's a sad reflection on these fragmented times that the leaders, across the educational landscape, aren't all pulling in the same direction. Of course, I know that in today's crazy pressured world, school leaders are juggling multiple agendas and managing tight deadlines and there is barely time to talk, much less agree about a common purpose. It's challenging enough just keeping up with today's demands from governors, DfE and OFSTED!

In this strange world of Free Schools and Academies, where anyone can teach and anyone can be a school leader, the question is where are the great leaders; the Alec Clegg's, the Tim Brighouses', the Mick Waters' , the Steve Munby's? And more importantly, where is the system leadership; the glue that binds us around a common purpose, common aims and priorities, a commitment to excellence, to getting every child to reach their potential and to getting the best out of everyone in the team!
Looking around at the fragmented organisation, the lack of leadership, coherence and purpose all I see is that there's a distinct lack of shared purpose and vision. Wherever you look, politics, internal conflicts and turf issues affect decisions. Leaders are pulling in different directions and individuals are reluctant to share their successes and concerns. Understandably then, leaders feel alone in their efforts to get things done and team members are frustrated about the decision-making process.
These are the symptoms of fragmented leadership. And unless these problems are addressed head-on, education and schools are going to continue to struggle to deliver excellence and equity. In my 40 years of experience with hundreds of leadership teams, I've found extraordinary practice in so many places but the majority are unintentionally shooting themselves in the foot by working at cross-purposes. The sad outcome is lost and missed opportunities and high levels of burnout and frustration.

The secrets to success

leaders need to unite around a shared purpose;
leaders need to meet regularly and see their personal involvement in these meetings as vital;
leaders must talk about their successes and concerns;
leaders must share, network and learn.
After all, ensuring the success of schools and education -- and the individuals who serve it -- is the real purpose of leadership.

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