Five essential tips for climbing the FE leadership ladder
"...walk with Kings-nor lose the common touch.”
Here we look at 5 tips for helping individuals to achieve a mindset to allow them to climb the leadership ladder and flourish.
Tip 1 - Have Perspective
Pure unadulterated naked ambition within the teaching profession can be very dangerous. Personal ambition can drive departments, faculties and year groups forward. However, it must not be at the expense of young people. There is nothing worse than seeing a bored group of middle/senior leaders feeling that they have to be at a college event to enhance their profiles and to be seen to do the right things.
We recommend a measured pathway to the top. Do not set any predefined goals such as becoming a Deputy Principal by a certain age. Look to acquire relevant whole college experience and take advantage of mentoring before looking to reach the next stage. The very best college leaders have strong credentials, are college centric and genuinely wish to enrich the lives of young people. Ambition is healthy, but it must be due to a genuine passion for education and not the attraction of an inflated salary.
Tip 2 - Outline Your Credentials
The advent of the leadership qualifications has helped to give formality to aspiring to the top of the ladder. Training in managerial techniques, college placements and leading a programme of change is great preparation. Nevertheless, experience and the ability to work under pressure are paramount to able be to demonstrate to college governors that you possess the required credentials. At interview, you must be able to espouse your achievements and we advise you to take ownership of outcomes to help you prepare for increased responsibility.
Values must not be overlooked. A fair and just leader is someone who can be trusted. A highly thought of leader is one that is less likely to face descent from the staff room. This can save valuable time and always adopt the mindset of treating others how you would like to be treated yourself. You will never be all things to all people and inevitably you will experience some unpopularity in some quarters. However, you can always strive for improvement and be aspirational for your college. Staff will value this mindset and value your credentials.
Tip 3 - Be College Centric
A big attraction of working within a college environment is the diversity that exists. This is evident in the vast array of academia, culture, sport and art. Versatility is a theme of college life and as a senior member of staff, you are required to be a good all-rounder who accepts responsibility. In decision making, listening to the varied views in a staff room is time-consuming. However, it is thoroughly recommended. Leaders cannot be dismissive of staff members and must take their views onboard prior to making decisions. Every interaction helps you become more experienced and prepares you for future decisions. An honest approach with colleagues means you must make decisions and explain why you have made them. Always get back to staff and build your reputation as someone who cares immensely about all aspects of college life.
In climbing the ladder, an appreciation of the intricacies of the college budget is required. Whilst this may not be your particular area of expertise, there is considerable pressure to balance the books. Aspiring Principals are encouraged to spend time shadowing their Finance Officer to gather experience in budget planning. This can be furthered by volunteering to manage an element of the college budget. This means that you gather responsibility and become accountable. This is something which could set you aside from another candidate at interview.
Tip 4 - Consistently Deliver High Standards
The very best college leaders inspire confidence in both young people and their colleagues. This can be achieved by adhering to very high standards. Punctuality and following up on all issues is paramount to ensure the smooth running of a college. You must meet deadlines, otherwise, staff will soon lose respect for you. Ensure that your speeches, staff meetings and INSET training are well planned and thought-provoking. This will show that you care and that you adhere to high standards.
Presence is an important characteristic of a senior leader. Avoid spending too much time in front of a computer screen and ensure that you are a regular presence in the corridors. Maintaining a calm and collected persona might sometimes be challenging. However, you must pride yourself on exhibiting these traits. Maintaining a connection with teaching is strongly advised. This will help you understand the pressure that colleagues are under.
Tip 5 - Make Development a Priority
The role of a senior leader is to provide genuine leadership. This will enable colleagues to feel supported and allow them to display confidence in their role. As a leader, you are responsible for creating an environment for young people to succeed and access their chosen pathway. A good way to consider the work of a highly effective senior leader is to think like an architect. This profession is characterised by planning, design and implementation. This means that the leader must remain in post long enough to see through the changes that they have made.
Staff are a very expensive resource and their development must be a priority. Having a robust appraisal system is an important means of monitoring their performance. Also, it serves as a means to highlight development opportunities. Your own appraisal is an opportunity for you to map out your intentions to gather whole college experience. However, this must not be to the detriment of the college. Your own personal ambitions must be correlated to the work you are undertaking. This synergy will ensure that staff, students and you all benefit which is highly desirable. Success of this nature will mean you build a profile that will enable you to further your career and reach the pinnacle.
We are fortunate to meet a wider number of senior leaders in supplying our product college. From experience, we find that the very best senior leaders are time efficient and whole college minded. They are still great teachers and have staff and students at the forefront when making decisions. The ladder to the top involves many late nights and difficult conversations. We pride ourselves on creating software that streamlines processes and saves valuable time which can then be devoted to leadership.
CollegeiP helps to empower aspiring senior leaders with the wealth of information needed in order to improve their college. CollegeiP is a web-based tool for staff appraisal and professional development, which helps to identify strengths and target key areas of weakness. The leader who has opted for CollegeiP has a proven robust framework for success.
If you would like to drive college improvement and save hours of professional time, please make contact with our sales team. Call 0333 0433 450 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a demonstration of CollegeiP. Alternatively, click here to arrange a no-obligation demonstration.