I often look towards other people, leaders and leadership for inspiration. I find it in strange places. Recently all these have inspired me to reflect and be better at what I do, which is lead a school…

Mandy Harvey on America’s Got Talent following her passion despite the difficulties,

Rocky III: a winner who loses touch and has to relearn everything

My school community because we want the best for the children in our school and this makes for happy children

Family because despite a recent life changing and critical moment – there is a positive attitude to what happens next

Jeremy Corbyn for proving that when you have principles and beliefs that are about a much better society and you have to fight, fight, fight for them… and you are ridiculed, lambasted and deserted… don’t give up. Make it your life’s work.

The Zen of running, those moments of total exhaustion that slowly turn in to exultation (At around 8k for me)

A book about the leadership secrets of the SAS; plan, brief, deliver and debrief making such sense to me when thinking about school improvement planning

An eclectic list I’d say.

You see, leadership is work under the microscope, whilst swimming in the fish bowl. Your every decision will have repercussions often on an organisational scale. Your actions and your attitude sculpt the climate that your school breathes. Therefore you need to be a swift learner and damn fine at reflecting, or as the SAS call it – The debrief.

As much as I am inspired by leaders I also reflect on the lessons of bad leadership. For example:

Imagine a school leader who made these mistakes:

They write a School Development Plan that runs the school down and only meets the needs of 20% of the school… including creating a special room for the cleverest 8%

Was unable to have empathy with the people they serve alienating over halve of them

Appointed a governor who was running a local campaign entitled, ‘Save Somerset from Sodomy’ and called homosexuality “immoral, offensive and obnoxious”

That made budget cuts without once referencing the figures but just kept saying, “There is no money tree”

Never once appeared outside the school to meet parents or answer questions

Kept referring to the ‘strong and stable’ leadership that they, and they alone, would provide in the upcoming negotiations when the school pulled out of a successful collaboration. Despite the fact that there were no plans, costings, vision or team to do it.

And finally predicted that the school would have its greatest results ever when in fact they were an utter disaster and left the school in the weakest position it had been in for a long long time…

I’d give that head very little chance of future success.

You learn lessons from leaders but you also need to learn lessons as a leader. Take inspiration from around you. Try and make sure that this is not only from your own comfy bubble… look at leadership beyond your world but most importantly listen. You can learn so much from listening.

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