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Navigating the Hard Bits

A Leader’s Dilemma in School

Leadership heads up

As a school leader, you love your school. However, the reality of leadership is it brings many challenges, as well as victories. The intricate dance between managing parent concerns, handling classroom incidents, and grappling with staff dynamics can make the job more demanding than one might anticipate.

Let’s face it – being a leader means facing the ‘hard’ decisions head-on. A concerned parent, a disruptive incident in class, or struggling attendance figures – these are the hurdles that demand your attention. And then there’s the challenge of managing your team, who, as much as you love them, can pose their own set of difficulties.

Consider a staff member being who is often absent.

Which ‘hard’ do you choose?

Arrange cover, ask the team to pull together, pay for supply or teach the class yourself.
Have the difficult conversation about their sickness level, with a view to it improving to at least in line with the school average.

Each option is undeniably challenging, but one leads to a resolution, while the other lets the issue persist like a chronic ailment.

Or think about someone in the team who is causing disruptions – feathers ruffled, again.

Which ‘hard’ do you choose?

Deal with the fallout, the grumbles, and gossip amongst staff.
Talk to the person about their behaviour and work towards improving it, lifting the unintentional cloud they bring to the team.

And when someone isn’t performing up to the mark, yet again.

Which ‘hard’ do you choose?

Let the team keep trying as best they can, knowing the underperformance is holding them and your pupils back.
Set about improving performance.

In each scenario, you’re presented with a difficult decision. However, one option resolves the issue, while the other resigns you to live with it as if it were a chronic ailment.

It’s true; not all ‘hard’ things are within our power to change. But when it comes to people issues, the power to improve the situation undoubtedly lies within your hands.

So, as you navigate the complex landscape of school leadership, remember that each ‘hard’ decision you make has the potential to shape the future of your school. Embrace the challenges, tackle the difficulties, and lead with the intention to resolve, not merely endure.

Sonia Gill, is a qualified teacher who has taught children of all ages from Reception to 16 and was selected to join the prestigious John Lewis leadership programme where she led a number of multi-million-pound business areas. She is a speaker at educational events and the author of two number 1 ranked Amazon books ‘Journey to Outstanding (2nd edition)’ and ‘Successful Difficult Conversations in Schools’.

P.S. If you find yourself needing guidance on the legalities of addressing people issues, consider joining us at our ‘Capability Conference: kindly and effectively tackling under-performance’ on 14th March, 2024. It’s an opportunity to equip yourself with the tools you need for tackling those hard people situations well.

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Heads Up creates high performing school leadership teams that deliver consistent, high quality education every day to those children who need it the most. Maximise success with half the stress. Training is 100% recommended and highly effective.

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