Leadership reflections this week

1) How lucky I am to have the line manager I have.  It is very, very unusual to have someone line manage you who just knows you.  My line manager knows me.  He knows when I am on form and he knows when I am not.  He knows when I am pissed off, upset, happy, frustrated, energised but, more importantly, he knows how to handle me at any point.  This means when I am pissed off, he lets me vent; when I am upset, he is my shoulder to cry on and when I am energised, he questions me and pushes me that little bit harder to get that little bit more.  He is there for me 24/7 and we constantly speak on the phone addressing things that crop up during the week or actions we need to consider putting into place.  We have a great working relationship – one minute we can be laughing together, the next shouting at one another but we work so well together because we have this unbelievable passion for our profession and for the school we work in.  Being a HOF can be quite a lonely experience – pressure from SLT above and demands from your team down below with both veering from support to criticism.  Balancing this is hard but it becomes easier when you have a good line manager who can sort you out.

2) Everything is moving in the right direction.  I am an impatient person.  I want everything now.  I want my department to be good now.  And yet, I forget, the words I uttered at interview – ‘it will take 5 years’.  My line manager had to remind me of those words this week when I was in floods of tears, desperately frustrated and feeling like I was going nowhere.  It is important to reflect (I always do) but sometimes I don’t reflect far back enough.  Only two other people will know what it was like to walk into my school building a year and a half ago and, only those two, therefore will really know how many steps we have actually taken forward, although my line manager has been with us every step of the way.  I have spent a lot of time this week thinking about how far we have come since April 13.  The area has been transformed, the team is full, the beginnings of solid systems are in place, students’ work is being more accurately marked, weekly dialogues about teaching and learning take place and, most importantly, the relationships with students are there so we are getting more and more from them.  So whilst we still have some way to go and, at times, that can feel overwhelming, it is important to stand still sometimes and see just how far we have come.  And that is when the smile comes back on to my face.

3) Directing.  The hardest part of a job is directing others to do theirs.  It is something a number of us have been discussing this week.  There is a tension between assuming others will use their intuition to fulfil their job roles and guiding others to do the job they are paid to do.  Too often, I have naively assumed that people will know and understand their job and simply do it, and too rarely, I have guided staff to do what they need to do.  No-one, prior to joining the academy, has ever really guided me and this is why I think my role as guide has been less forthcoming.  I have always relied on my intuition.  If I have not known something, I have sought answers from others, from the internet, from the Twitter community.  However, not everyone works like this and, therefore, I know I need to start to guide people more to ensure I get what I need from them.  This is what takes time – careful thinking, planning and delegating to ensure what is important is prioritised but, in the long run, I know it will become a more effective way of doing things.

4) The importance of team.  The English Faculty have laughed this week.  It has been a tough week but we have laughed.  Our Monday night, optional planning group expanded by one this week and the energy and enthusiasm that was brought was a joy.  Seeing people working together, sharing ideas, producing resources and laughing was one of my highlights.  The teachers within my faculty are a real joy to work with and the longer the team stay, the closer we are getting and the more supportive a network it is becoming.  I love working with my team and am eternally grateful for the hard work they are putting in.

Outside of my team, the team we have at school is one of the most supportive I have every worked in.  Not a week goes by without the Head or any member of the leadership team asking me how I am doing.  Not a request goes unnoticed for guidance, advice or support.  Not a week goes by where someone doesn’t sit down with me and talk through the worries I am having or the concerns I may have.  I love the fact that I feel I can be as honest with the people I work with as I feel I need to be – both when there are positives to share and frustrations to vent.

The other team is the Pub Friday team.  Last year I closed myself off to everything.  I was too busy sorting out other people’s messes.  This year I was badgered into coming.  A colleague insisted on waiting behind until I was ready to go but go I was.  It is the time, once a week, where I get to talk to colleagues from other faculties – we offload the week over a glass of wine or two and share many laughs.   I am so sad that I didn’t afford myself that time last year but am so happy that it is now a regular part of my week.  I live for Pub Friday 🙂

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