I was once invulnerable. Nothing in leadership scared me. Nothing stopped me from doing what I felt was right… many mistakes later I am not so sure.
Sometimes I feel like a skinned rabbit, splayed out on my back, in full view of the butchers window.
Sometimes, I feel a little vulnerable. My legs akimbo, aching and twitching against the cold front as it heralds the spring storms. We are all ‘meat’ when we break it down to the raw basics; we are all tender, bite sized titbits, in the salivating stare of someone who holds power over us. The hawk eyed DFE hovering over the playground verges as we push our foot to the floor, furtively looking in to the sun. The Ofsted Owl silently waiting in the darkened tree tops. You should never think you are safe from predators when you take on a leadership role.
Should I care?
IT keeps me awake. It is my achilles, my bread and butter. I have badges proclaiming my prophesied martyrdom. I have stories, sea shanties, poems, tales, picture books, myths and legends; they all state my solid leadership. They all paint a pretty picture, as they twist the truth just enough to convince strangers I am the leader they wished they had.
If only the truth were as sexy as the day to day.
I am a mighty fine charlatan. A prophet of promises; a subverter of possible truths and dreams. I am a fool upon a stage with the spotlight switched off.
The irony is, no one knows the job of leading a school better than me… and yet, the longer I do it the more I know I am bailing out the boat with a leaking bucket. Knowledge is not always the easy friend it promises to be. The job gets harder as experience grows barnacles on the soles of my feet.
What is the mistake I made?
Believing the hype… believing that I was once immortal, that I knew what was happening… that I was gifted and luck played no part in my success. It is one of the great mistakes I see in leaders as they ascend the ladder of success. They strut down the corridors with a swagger and they bask in the glory of the attention, confident that their right to be here was hard worn by talent alone but talent is fickle and time can snap it in an instant.
Educations great lesson is teaching you that you are always the student. You are always one page away from ignorance or failure. School leadership is a thick tome of minuscule writings, confusing sub genres and dull as dish water eulogies. If you think you have it all wrapped up in neat results and happy Ofsted reports you have much to learn. The Hawk and the Owl have feasted upon greater prey than you.
April 7, 2017 at 7:01 pm
Ooooo yes! Painfully true.
May 10, 2017 at 11:21 pm
A post applicable to many industries (many good people to be found wobbling along the tightrope between impostor syndrome and Dunning-Kruger…)