Thursday, 28 June 2018

The Leadership Challenge

Why 70% of middle managers fail to become leaders?

Harvard Business School scholar John Kotter has argued that there are three fundamentals processes for effective leadership that a lot of managers have failed to grasp.
  1. Establishing a compelling direction, a vision for the future and the strategies for how to get there. 
  2. Aligning people, communicating the direction, building share understanding, getting people to believe in the vision and then persuading and influencing people to follow that vision. 
  3. Motivating and inspiring people to enact the kind of change that you have articulated. 

Kotter further argued that finding people with leadership potential is much more difficult than finding people who are good managers. Since driving change is much more difficult than striving for efficiency and meeting near-term financial and nonfinancial targets.

"A leader is not simply someone who experiences the personal exhilaration of being in charge. A leader is someone whose actions have the most profound consequences on other people's lives, for better or for worse, sometimes forever and ever."
Warren Bennis

When you are responsible for managing and leading people, you have the opportunity to make a profound impact on your employees, but it’s up to you as the leader to recognize that your staff are your most prized asset.

Leadership is about people, it's about inspiring people to believe that the impossible is possible, it is about developing and building people to perform at heights they never imagine and it's about making a positive impact on your community, your school, your team, your staff and by extension your pupils.

Leadership is never about tearing people down and making people feel less than themselves. If you want to be a great leader you must first start with being a better human being.



Saturday, 23 June 2018

The Power of Positivity

Does your school fully grasp the impact of culture on performance? Do leaders understand their culture for what it is and are they able to identify what they want it to be while working to fiercely protect what must never change?

Not all are convinced by positive psychology and the power of positive thinking, but authentic positivity plays a vital role in aligning and strengthening a school’s culture. Schools that find ways to emphasize a positive outlook and attitude are more likely to see improved performance and motivation among staff. 

However strong leadership is more than having a charismatic head of the school. Yes, a strong leader is where it starts, but great leadership, in clarity, has the opportunity to inspire at a level that cascades across the whole school in order to embolden, motivate, and steer toward even greater success.

Is it a purposeful choice or an accidental consequence? 

Southwest Airlines and Apple have very purposeful cultures. Are there any tips on how we could try and develop that culture in our schools? Here are 10 simple ideas:

1. Give positive reinforcement
I appreciate the way you…
I’m impressed with…
I really enjoy working with you because…
Your team couldn’t be successful without your…
I admire the way you take the time to…
You’re really good at…

2. Show gratitude
Thank Someone for something they did but weren’t expecting to get thanked for – be specific about what it was and why it was helpful or important; be sure to coby their boss.
3. Spread happiness
Smile and say “Hi” to twice as many people as you normally would – but be genuine in your smile.

4. Celebrate wins
Start a meeting off by sharing something positive that is going on in your group, project, work etc. Encourage others to do the same.
5. Celebrate
Find some occasion to celebrate with others, whether it be a project milestone, birthday, new house, etc. Pass around a card for people to sign or make a sign.
6. Encourage positive thinking
Anonymously post a positive quote or picture by the copier, coffee machine or some where else that receives high foot traffic so that others can see.
7. Change the way you respond
When someone disagrees with you about something at work, think “how interesting” instead of immediately getting defensive.
8. Get moving
If you have a meeting with only one or two other people, make it a walking meeting; get outside and get your blood pumping.
9. Encourage fun
Add some light fun by picking a day for a dress-up or desk-decorating theme – ex. hat day, wild sock day, or decorating with flowers, pictures of tropical places, etc.

10. Engage in random acts of kindness
Do something kind for someone else (especially someone who wouldn’t expect it). Offer to help them with something, give them a snack or treat, or simply ask them how their evening or weekend was or about something going on in their life.


Excerpted from Leading Clarity: The Breakthrough Strategy to Unleash PEOPLE, PROFIT, and PERFORMANCE (Wiley, April 3, 2018).



Thursday, 21 June 2018

5 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Social Media

"Embracing social media isn't just a bit of fun, it's a vital way to communicate, keep your ear to the ground and improve your business."
Richard Branson

1. To share expertise.

Albert Einstien famously said, "a life lived in the service of others is worth living." Passing on your knowledge and experience to others that otherwise wouldn't have had the opportunity to do so is a gift of service you should take seriously.

2. To be human.
When leaders are social they get the opportunity to show they are human and can connect with their people on a human level. David Rubenstein once said, "What do most people say on their deathbed? They don't say I wish I had more money or I wish I worked more. They say, I wish I would have spent more time with my family and done more for my society and community." By being social, you can do more for your society, community, and the people underneath you.
3. To connect with your people.
Social Media provides a great opportunity to connect with people if you don't get the opportunity to do it in person. You have to know how important the digital world is in many people's lives and go be active with them.
4. To communicate.
One of the hardest parts of any leader's job is consistent communication. Social media provides an unbelievable medium to communicate with people across geographies, time zones, and demographics. about knowledge, life experience, vision for the team, or individual team member achievements.

5. To recruit talent.
Approximately 2 million people are graduating from colleges and universities this year and they spend 135 minutes a day on social networking sites. Using social can attract top talent from the competition.



Monday, 18 June 2018

Real leaders serve

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” 

This was what John F. Kennedy  implored in his inaugural address in 1961. 

Truly effective and inspiring leaders aren’t actually driven to lead people; they are driven to serve them. For a leader to be a leader, they need a following. And why should any individual want to follow another individual unless they feel that person will look out for them and their interests?

It is our job as leaders to help the people we lead or work with, be good at their jobs. This means helping them get the: 
  • resources
  • information
  • support 
they need to perform at their best. The more we do that, the more we will earn their trust so that when we need them to go the extra mile, they will ... gladly. 

Leadership is as much about environment as it is about practice. People should generally feel that we’re there to help them be the best version of themselves.  A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done and to succeed beyond what they thought possible.

Leaders lead not to serve those above them; they lead to serve those who serve them.



Saturday, 16 June 2018

How do I become a leader?

Have you ever had a teacher ask you...

"Make me a leader"

In response to this you may reply with "What do you mean... what are you lacking?"

Often their reply would be that they feel they lack authority and would like to be able to tell others what to do. However when the teacher is then challenged to list all the times that the Headteacher or SLT has directly told them what to do... when they feel they have been ordered around... often they cannot think of many examples at all.

It would be a painful day to day experience of leaders relied on their authority to work with staff.

Which brings us back to the original question

"So what do I need to do to become a leader, then ?"



Monday, 11 June 2018

Vision to Provison



On Friday, EYFS Leads across the Borough came together for the final session of ‘Vision to Provision’. The programme is designed to facilitate continuing professional development for Early Years Leaders, focusing specifically on the establishment of a vision for everyday practice, the practical application of leadership strategies and the ensuring of a great start to school for all Havering Reception aged pupils.

Throughout the programme, we were able to support EYFS leads and Headteachers to form a compelling vision for their Early Years setting. We wanted to ensure that EYFS leaders felt more confident about their leadership potential and skills and to link feedback from moderation and data to the ongoing cycle of continuous improvement.

100% of participants strongly agreed/agreed, that they had been inspired to review their vision and practice within their own school.

100% strongly agreed/agreed that the vision for Early Years and the day to provision is now stronger, clearer and more consistent

97% strongly agreed/agreed that they have developed more confidence and have established a stronger knowledge and understanding of leadership.


“It has been hugely beneficial to meet with colleagues so regularly - it is a constant reassurance that I am on the right track as a new lead.”


“The course has allowed me to grow as an Early Years Lead and practitioner…I have taken ideas back to change aspects of the environment, which has not seen change for a few years.”


“The course has supported me in improving my leadership skills, helping me to understand more of what is needed and my confidence to discuss data.”


“V2P has supported my leadership and encouraged me to think/develop different areas of Early Years. EYFS and the SLT have a greater understanding of our vision in the Early Years.”



"V2P gave me the inspiration to make changes and the confidence to do so!”

We look forward to working with the EYFS Leads in 2018/19, and would like to say thank you to all of you for your excellent participation throught the year.


Forget the mistake, remember the lesson.


Leaders do not need to be perfect. They need to be inspiring.

Do you have a healthy environment at work where people are not afraid to take responsibility for failures and mistakes? Rapid learning and progress are more likely to be made if the culture remembers the lesson and not the mistake.

In such schools there is no fear - only respect.

In such schools teachers are not expected to be perfect - the expectation is to be creative, energetic, supportive and helpful.

Nobody is perfect.

It all starts with leadership. Do you show that you aren't afraid to be open about your own imperfections, shortcomings and mistakes?

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Stephen King Writing Tips

Stephen King’s books have sold over 350 million copies. Here are our favourite pieces of advice for aspiring writers:

First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story. Your stuff starts out being just for you, but then it goes out.”

Avoid adverbs. “The adverb is not your friend. Consider the sentence “He closed the door firmly.” It’s by no means a terrible sentence, but ask yourself if ‘firmly’ really has to be there. What about context? What about all the enlightening (not to say emotionally moving) prose which came before ‘He closed the door firmly’? Shouldn’t this tell us how he closed the door? And if the foregoing prose does tell us, then isn’t ‘firmly’ an extra word? Isn’t it redundant?”

Don’t obsess over perfect grammar. “Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes. The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story… to make him/her forget, whenever possible, that he/she is reading a story at all. “

Read, read, read. “You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

Turn off the TV. You must be prepared to do some serious turning inward toward the life of the imagination. Reading takes time, and the glass teat takes too much of it.”



Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Cognitive Bias - are you aware?

What is cognitive bias?
A cognitive bias is a mistake in reasoning, evaluating, remembering, or other cognitive process, often occurring as a result of holding onto one's preferences and beliefs regardless of contrary information. 

Psychologists study cognitive biases as they relate to memory, reasoning, and decision-making.

What might cognitive bias look like in education?
The Hawthorne effect

This is named after an experiment at the Hawthorne Factory in the US.

Keen to find out how their staff could be more productive, the owners of the factory observed them. Knowing that they were being watched, the employees worked much harder and productivity increased. When they were no longer being observed, productivity returned to normal rates.

This has some interesting implications for teacher observations, as it is difficult to give someone feedback on how they are doing if your mere presence alters how they act. Having regular low-stakes observation that focuses on feedback rather than judgement should go a long way to remedying this.

Likewise, if pupils are undergoing an intervention to improve a particular area and they know they are part of an intervention, it will probably impact their subsequent behaviour. This is why subtle and stealthy interventions are likely to have greater impact.

Read the full article here



Monday, 4 June 2018

Leadership - It is not all about me!


One of the greatest things about leadership is that we all bring something different to the table. If you were to read articles on good leadership qualities, you would usually see factors like integrity, effective communication and influence. These are all wonderful qualities of a leader, but to stand out as a leader —you need to put people ahead of yourself.


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Sunday, 3 June 2018

Effective Listening

1. Listen with your whole self.
Maintain eye contact without staring or glaring. Concentrate on the speaker and lean slightly forward to communicate that you are open to what is being said. Nod, smile, or ask a relevant question if you need clarification. This way, you send a nonverbal message that you are “in the moment” and fully involved in the conversation. Don’t rush or hurry the exchange.Be wholly and fully present, and you’ll be long remembered.

Related: Listening Is an Art, and Mastering it Will Make You a Great Leader

2. Smile.
A warm, genuine smile is the most beautiful curve on the human body. Your friendly expression says, “I’m approachable and interested,” and it can immediately put others at ease. When you smile during small talk you let people know you appreciate talking to them and you increase your longevity.
3. Open up and relax.

We have a tendency to “fold up” when we feel uncomfortable or threatened. We cross our arms, legs or ankles, shift in our seat, put our hands in our pockets or even angle our body away from others.

These postures, in effect, “disconnect” or close you off from the person who is speaking. Body language expert Janine Driver writes in her bestselling book, You Say More Than You Think: “The direction our belly button faces reflects our attitude and reveals our emotional state. When we suddenly turn our navel toward a door or exit or away from someone, we subconsciously send the signal that we want out of the conversation and perhaps even out of the interaction.”

4. Be aware of nervous gestures.
It’s natural to feel tense in certain situations, but if you want to socialize and meet people you should try to conceal your nervousness as best you can.

Nervousness manifests itself in many ways. Common signs of unease include fussing with your hair, jewelry, or clothing, adjusting your tie, clearing your throat every few minutes, repeatedly clicking a ballpoint pen, wiggling your foot, picking at your cuticles, and biting your fingernails in public. Keep your body parts as still as possible without appearing stiff.

Try to relax and take a few deep breaths.

5. Initiate contact.
If people don’t seem to be approaching you, then take the initiative and be the first person to say hello. This demonstrates confidence and immediately shows your interest in the other person. As the conversation begins, nod, focus on what the other person is saying, and resist the temptation to interrupt or finish someone else’s sentences.

6. Ask questions.
People perk up when we demonstrate a focused and sincere interest in them and their story. If you take an active interest in the lives of those around you, people will remember and appreciate you for making the effort.

Active listening and being fully present for the other person will make you more memorable than you imagine. The willingness to step outside of yourself and your concerns happens when wisdom, generosity of spirit, and compassion are combined with your intent to honor another human being.

Read the full article here


Saturday, 2 June 2018

Profile of Women - Star Wars not yet groundbreaking!

Even in a movie where the protagonist is a woman, Star Wars is still biased towards male actors.

A new study has ranked the Star Wars films by the amount of time given to female characters – and the original 1977 movie is at the bottom of the pile.

According to Glasgow University lecturer Dr Rebecca Harrison, in Episode IV: A New Hope, women (a category which here includes female robots and aliens) get just 15 per cent of the film's screentime.

Explaining how she arrived at the figures in a blog post, Harrison said that non-speaking characters were not included, and that the definition of "women’s screen time" excluded scenes in which women appear in the background while men talk, or in a purely passive role as a "visual object".

The most recent film included by Harrison, 2017's The Last Jedi, comes top with 43 per cent.

The ranking: Star Wars films by women's screen time
  • 43% Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
  • 37% Episode VII: The Force Awakens
  • 35% Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • 23% Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
  • 22% Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  • 20% Episode I: The Phantom Menace
  • 18% Episode II: Attack of the Clones
  • 17% Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  • 15% Episode IV: A New Hope

Friday, 1 June 2018

Marginal gains


Small changes that make a big difference to your teaching


Teachers can learn a lot from the world of competitive sports when it comes to making small changes to improve their practice, says this head of department.

When it comes to education, we are the professionals. We are the elite and the experts who can benefit from this level of fine tuning. Once we have got the basics right, we can look for those small tweaks to our practice that might not seem like much on their own, but as a combination could make a huge difference to the children we teach.

Read the full article here

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