The first series in the leadership forums focused on Middle Leadership as NZEALS set out to encourage, support and grow those aspiring to lead in schools and centres.
The series of three online forums was faciliated by Sandra Jenkins, Jeremy Kedian and Dr. Anne Malcolm and created a platform for rich conversations between particpants with the benefits of electronic interactive learning.
Mā to mōhio,ka mārama,
Mā to mārama, ka mātau
Through discussion we become aware,
Through awareness we gain understanding,
Through understanding we gain proficiency and expertise
The session leaders focused the thinking with these provocative questions
- Who can be a leader?
- What does good, bad or mediocre leadership look like to you? How do you know? Why is it important?
- How is leadership different from adminstering or managing? Does it matter?
- What motivates leaders to be the best they can be?
- What supports do leaders need? Who? How? What actually supports leaders? How do leaders prioritise needs?
- How important is context to leadership?
- If this is about being human and having a sense of ‘humanness’ with one’s leadership, what does this look like in your setting?
- How might you develop the skills and capacities of an effective leader?
- How do you ‘learn’ to be a leader?
A key question: What difference can I make for learners as a middle leader?
During the rich conversations over the three online session the following reflective comments were made:
- The importance of relationships and trust; being reliable and trustworthy
- The role and concept of humanness in leadership
- Having intelligent failures
- Making mistakes is OK, not being perfect, not pretending, being real
- Anyone can be a leader, it is not confined to one focus
- It is about confidence and competence
- One can be a reluctant leader but make a difference
- One needs to be flexible and agile
- Disposition, skills and knowledge = capabilities
- The importance of vision, courage and passion and not just admin.
- Having beliefs, a self-belief, values, a purpose that are visible in practice
- It is about creating opportunities for others, empowering
- Being fair, having empathy
- Listening, seeking feedback as in being in conversation with others
- Being able to listen with no need to respond, just to hear, think through and act if needed
- Checking in with others
- Balancing risk taking with stability
- Having a moral purpose, a moral and ethical compass
- Being supported and mentored, having someone walk with you
- Clarity over expectations, knowing what is expected
- Time and space to be a leader - the important over the urgent
- Different styles of leadership (i.e. when to be autocratic, when to have a coaching style) for different situations
- Being mentored (guided into what might work best) and coached (listening, asking pwerful questions in order to guide where you wish to go)
- Growing a coaching capability yourself, asking more than telling
- Not being a fixer and solving problems for others (let go of what is not yours)
- Seeking opportunities, offering, being involved, agreeing to take on, seeking out these and not waiting, seeking and committing to areas of responsibility
- Connecting with others, networking, considering, reflecting, talking through with others
- It is about having an impact and influencing, nudging towards soemthing different
- It is about being present, how you present and be with others
- Self care, hauora matters
- Weaving strengths through, sharing what you are good at
- Seeing the whole and knowing the detail
- Being responsive, having respondibility
- Being a sense maker of complexity, for yourself and with others
- Making connections between ideas (and people)
- Growing a sense of belonging and identity
- Focused on inclusion, diversity, equity
- Being able to reframe your thinking
- In conversation (dialogue), holding a perspective and idea lightly, advocating gently, not defending a position so as to be open to the ideas of others
- Collaborating, reflecting, evaluating, deciding next steps together
- Understanding how to share leadership, to enable and empower others
- Being in a school/centre culture which encourages volunteering and putting one’s hand up is important
- When focused on the ‘self’ there is a need for ‘self-care’, for nourishing oneself and to know when to step in and alongside and when to step away and step out, for one’s own self care.
- It is about being open; not just the door for others, also the mind, heart and will.
- Having genuine curiosity
- Being open to challenge
- Ensuring listening without judging.
- Building capabilities across many contexts and situations. Being agile, flexible and adaptive. It is more than just being competent.
This is about being human and having a sense of ‘humanness’ with one’s leadership.
Key consideration: Knowing what underpins your approach to leadership; a theory or a philosophy and why you do what you do.
The voice of participants:
- The reflection I had when engaging in these rich conversations
- I learned a lot by listening to the stories of others
- Learning how to approach different situations by listening to people talk through their own context and their roles
- I learned about being an agentic leader
- I need to take time to learn about leadership by reading, engaging in conversations so as to work out my own approach
- The importance of good role models
- The need for both support and challenge so as to consider my own perspectives.