Maximising Relationships With Your Senior Leadership Team
Successful leadership and management of a school (or other organisation/business) relies in part on a leadership team which is strong individually and collectively.
The size of the SLT will usually depend on the size of the school and how staffing is structured (and the budget!) I’ve worked with SLTs ranging in size from 1 (the Head of a small school) to a team of 8, in a larger city school. As with any team, the larger it is the greater the potential for a richness of ideas, strengths and experiences … as well as a greater risk of conflict and power struggles.
A range of factors contribute to an effective team, one of which is a positive and productive working relationship. Heads new to a post can come into a school with an already established SLT, which can create its own challenges.
To build and maintain effective relationships with the SLT, there are several things that I’ve found in development work with Heads…
1: Clear vision – shared with (or developed alongside) the SLT
It’s important that each member of the SLT knows how they contribute to the vision. Teaching staff can lose sight of the big picture (which the Head tends to hold), as they deal with the day-to-day tasks. This is why the vision needs to be revisited and reviewed on a regular basis.
2: Role clarity
It’s also important that each member of the SLT knows his/her role in the leadership and management of the school.
– Which parts of their role are leadership and which management?
– Do their combined leadership roles (I’m including the Head here too) provide appropriate coverage of all development areas within the school or are there gaps?
– How do you know?
– Are tasks appropriately distributed and is there fair delegation?
Lack of role clarity can lead to staff losing focus and direction, resulting in feeling demotivated. Staff who are externally motivated will need more direction and feedback on how they are doing, otherwise relationships could break down.
3: Building rapport
Building rapport is easiest with people who are similar to ourselves; it’s a subconscious thing. There’s a saying: People like people like themselves. This is fine when choosing your friends but can be limiting when choosing staff to be part of a multi-skilled and dynamic team, where complementary expertise and experiences are key.
Having common values helps build rapport, as does speaking the same language. (A focus for a forthcoming blog!)
4. Maximising strengths
As a Head / leader, how well do you know your SLT’s individual strengths (and your own!)? Not just curriculum strengths or a wide range of experience; I would also include here leadership and emotional intelligence strengths (e.g. optimism, initiative, building bonds, conflict management).
This is not an exhaustive list – so what would you add to it?
How do you maximise relationships with (and within) your team?
Thank you for taking time to read this blog.
I’m Debbie Inglis, a performance coach, mentor and trainer, working with Heads, Principals, School leaders and their teams to maximise leadership performance, create more effective, confident, and motivated teams … in a way that brings out the best in you.