Adaptive leadership

I am often looking for new perspectives on leadership and find the Harvard Business Review valuable professional reading. There is a good article in the July-August edition by Heifetz et al on ‘Leadership in a (Permanent) Crisis.

The article examines three key tasks for leaders today that I believe can be adapted to schools and systems:

1. foster ‘next’ practice while maintaining good practice. This is about blue-sky thinking. What can our schools become in a twenty-first century world and how can we leverage off what we are currently doing well to create the most desired future?

2. use the chaos and confusion of change to your advantage. Getting staff to confront the realities/dangers of maintaining the status quo, routine is the enemy of innovation. Viviane Robinson also encourages school leaders to create cultures where ‘courageous conversations’ occur regularly. Conversations that lead to sustainable and improved change instead of allowing fear and personal preferences to derail the process. It’s really about Covey’s habit of beginning with the end in mind!

3. looking for leadership at every level of the organisation. This is critical in school environments because good teachers enable and empower their colleagues. They contribute to building and sustaining powerful and adaptative communities of learning. They are not fearful of questioning their own, and their colleagues practices. Organisations can only grow when communities, groups, individuals share and celebrate best practice.

Finally, and perhaps the most important point is:

4. leaders taking care of themselves. They take personal responsibility for their wellbeing. Schools need strong leaders who are around for the long-haul. Great leaders work hard at the things that make the difference and not the things that detract from their work. They take their professional pride in so doing,

It is something worth reflecting on as we prepare for Term 3.


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