Leadership Renewal - From Crisis to Creativity

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A short reflection on leadership in schools. For more: www.HumansNotRobots.co.uk

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Leadership Renewal:

Leadership Renewal Matt Grant, 2013 www.HumansNotRobots.co.uk From Crisis to Creativity [Reflecting on Leadership]

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A good leader in a crisis gets directly involved, takes charge, and makes hands-on decisions. When an organisation is in crisis, it’s no time for a democracy. You don’t have time to gain consensus for change; you need to set the direction and force execution of new ways. – Mark Sheffert

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Consider the wolf pack…

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When a wolf pack is in good health the hierarchy loosens. Wolves living wild near a regular food source have no observable hierarchy. But when the wolf-pack is in danger, such as hunting a large animal or fighting for territory, it works to a much stricter hierarchy. The same pattern has been observed in other canines (such as coyotes who only form hierarchical packs during winter). In primate species, hierarchies vary depending on similar factors such as group size and health / imminent danger. Level of flexibility is used as a measure of their intelligence.

Relevance to Schools?:

Relevance to Schools? Schools or school teams in crisis require commanding, pace-setting leaders. A change in direction is needed immediately – for the school or school team to survive. Quick (though not necessarily easy) gains are required. However, as the ‘crisis period’ ends, so must the leadership styles and structures change.

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Renewed Styles Commanding Pacesetting Visionary Coaching Democratic Affiliative Modus Operandi Requires immediate compliance, no time for discussion. Sets high standards for performance. Shares with people a vision, promotes / builds alliances with those who share it. Develops leadership knowledge and skills for the future. Builds consensus through encouraging participation. Creates and maintains emotional bonds. Style in a phrase “Do what I tell you.” “Do as I do, follow me.” “This is where we’re going.” “Try this.” “What do you think?” “People come first.” When Style Works Best In a crisis, to kick start a quick upturn in results - and avoid catastrophe. To get quick results from a highly motivated and competent team. When a clear long-term direction needs mapping out, and breaking down into a series of short-term aims. To develop long-term strength, to allow for greater delegation. To build buy-in or consensus, or to get input from valuable colleagues. To heal rifts in a team or to motivate people following stressful times. crisis calm centralised distributive Source: Daniel Goleman

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A key function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers . - Ralph Nader

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Renewed Structures Source: Ori Brafman& Rod Beckstrom Spider Structures structured around one leader or small leadership team – ‘the head’. ‘the head’ steers the rest of the organisation - ‘the legs’ – in a top-down, centralised way. can produce clear direction and quick turnarounds in the short-term. creates high risk of crisis in long-term as it rests on a small pool of talent – less diversity of voices and expertise. if ‘the head’ becomes depleted or damaged in anyway, the whole organisation (‘the legs) is at high risk of catastrophic damage. Banks Schools Record Labels TV / Press Companies Military Government

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Renewed Structures Source: Ori Brafman& Rod Beckstrom Occupy Movement Wikipedia Napster E-Bay Al-Qaeda Starfish Structures Distributed ‘flat’ structure in which strong leaders (‘heads’) are located in each department (‘leg’). these ‘heads’ function autonomously but remain connected through a shared ‘survive and thrive’ vision. they steer the organisation as a network rather than top-down. if one of the ‘heads’ is cut off, the rest of the organisation is less prone to damage and more able to recover. a cut off ‘head’, if strong enough, will often grow into a new like-minded ‘ally’ organisation.

Relevance to Schools?:

Relevance to Schools? Brafman and Beckstrom recommend traditional organisations, like schools, adopt starfish features to build creativity and resilience. In doing so they will become ‘hybrids’. This can only be carried out when: There is a period of calm. There is a clear vision. There is a talent pool of potential leaders. Next step is developing the skills and the systems (‘standard operating procedures’) to facilitate a more networked / distributive approach to leadership.

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Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing. - Thomas J. Peters

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Leaders first, managers second… Managers… …schedule and prepare for forthcoming events… …monitor the budget, equip team with material resources… …delegate tasks amongst the team… …uphold rules and systems, focus on process / means… …solve day-to-day glitches as they happen… …operate a performance management cycle… …check data for specific problems, react with sticking plaster… Leaders… …create a long term vision – “where we want to be in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years…” …connect with the ‘cutting edge’, champion / communicate new ideas… …involve the team in reviewing and improving practice… …evaluate systems from the point of view of effectiveness, focus on product / ends… …foresee problems – then act to prevent… …capitalise on each team member’s strengths, seek to address weaknesses… …use data to identify long-term trends and patterns – to inform future planning…

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Meaning Creating and championing dreams and aspirations. Bringing expert ideas & views to the team, communicated accessibly. Fostering optimism and hope. Attention Identifying finer details / steps needed to reach the big picture. Controlling the focus of the team along the way. Capitalizing on each team member’s strengths to get there. Trust Gaining credibility as a competent, constant, caring leader. Acknowledging vulnerabilities and facilitating honest dialogue - ‘leaving the ego at the door’. Self Understanding and continuously developing own knowledge, expertise – and confidence. Proactively maintaining inner resilience and stability during prolonged periods of pressure and during crisis. Core leadership competencies… Source: Warren Bennis

Relevance to Schools?:

Relevance to Schools? Moving towards new leadership styles and structures will require honest evaluation of our own strengths and weaknesses against an agreed criteria. There will need to be a collaborative approach amongst leaders to helping one another develop their competencies. Leadership, rather than management, competencies will need to form the core of new performance management systems and staff development initiatives. The very nature of the project – the ‘hybrid’ structure we are aiming at - requires this to emerge from all leaders of the school, not simply imposed top-down by senior leadership.

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The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born - that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That's nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born. - Warren G. Bennis Traits or Training?

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Matt Grant, 2013 Originally produced for Thornleigh Salesian College, UK. Permission to present this material and distribute freely for non-commercial purposes is granted. If you modify this work, please note where you have modified it, as I want neither credit nor responsibility for your work. Any suggestions and corrections are appreciated and may be incorporated into future versions of this work, and credited as appropriate. If you believe I have infringed copyright, please contact me via the above website and I will promptly credit , amend or remove the material in question. For further resources or to contact the author, please visit: www.HumansNotRobots.co.uk

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