I have been a school leader, albeit in a relieving position, for I think, close on four years now. I have grown into this, learning a great deal about myself, ego, and other people. Mostly good.
I have enjoyed the challenges that leadership brings, and the potential it creates to improve and support my school and other people (both students and staff).
At first, as a leader in the English faculty, I learned how to handle conflict effectively. I also learned that being the ‘boss’ can be very lonely and at times, gut wrenching. It is never easy to have to put your foot down and express that this is the way it will happen when you know others disagree.
But ultimately the buck stops, in schools, with the Head Teacher.
I was very blessed throughout my time as English Head Teacher to be mentored by my very close friend, Donna. She taught me that sometimes you just need to do what you need to do without pandering to the egos of other people. Having difficult conversations is never easy and the approach one adopts must be appropriate to the situation. And after the conversation, especially the difficult ones where you have to be the ‘dictator’ for want of a better word, it is vital to move on quickly and not carry the ‘dictation’ with you. Say what you need to say and move on.
Another mentor, and close friend, that supported my early development as a leader, a long time before I became a leader officially, is Leanne. Leanne taught me the value of process, the necessity for meticulous paperwork and records, and the importance of investigation. Skills that are now, for the majority, reflexes.
This foundation has enabled the lessons from Donna to be taught; we cannot walk before we crawl.
A different type of leader is required in different situations. I do not necessarily like being a head teacher but I am good at it. I love the people I work with because they give their best for where they are, but I do not always like what they do. And I think, for the most part, most of my staff would say the same for me. It is an awkward role, and one in which close friendships are difficult to maintain. At times, it is a hard line between friendship/mentoring and being the boss.
I had to deal with two difficult situations last week. I was quiet here because I need to allow the processing of such events to take place before I can express what I have learned.
I have moved to being the substitute Head Teacher of Maths, just for two more weeks. I am very committed to process, and people being in positions where they are able and supported to offer their very best. I perceive that it is my job as Head Teacher to ensure optimum conditions for this and further learning to take place. I expect that people will be honest and if they have a concern, express it to me.
I have often on here referred to my understanding of Tolle’s reckoning of ego. The ego that speaks when we feel that someone has diminished or disrespected us. This is the ego that often will tell us to take action without reflecting on the situation at hand. This ego causes problems for everyone that it connects to because it craves feeding and intimidates people into feeding it. The ego can be a powerful and damaging beast.
I occasionally succumb to this monster but try very hard to process before I act or speak. I will vent from ego in a safe place, but act after reflection and deliberation. Generally, I am measured in these actions.
Two difficult situations. The situation I expected conflict and ego from did not happen; smooth and peaceful transition. The situation I did not expect too much grief from blew up. And I had to have a difficult chat because of ego jumping in. Ego forced the person to not follow process and to create significant conflict for many others.
I woke this morning reflecting on the best way to move forward to nurture the growth of the person operating from ego. A conversation would usually be my approach but I think, for the words and intent to be accurately portrayed, in words needs to come first. An old fashioned method in this day and age.
Through writing though, I believe that I can outline my perspective whilst paying homage to theirs. I do understand why they reacted the way that they did, probably better than they do, but as leader, I see a larger picture, that’s my job, and I need to meet the very different needs of many rather than one.
And it is this that I dislike about being a Head Teacher, but also where I get to make a difference in many lives.
Leadership is a journey. A journey of discovery of the self, others, and the broader world. And it is lonely and difficult.
Friday ended with the other staff member telling me how much they appreciated my support of them whilst the other was running me down. Funny how your impact can be so extreme in two different situations, both where you were just doing your job. The best way you know how.