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What can you enjoy without being good at?


According to this bumper sticker, GOLF and SEX are things you can enjoy, without being good at! (…and no the sticker is NOT on my car but thanks for asking!!!)

Once I recovered from the fits of laughter after reading the bumper sticker, I got to thinking about leadership. Sadly, being a leader is ALSO something that people can enjoy without being good at! I have a feeling Donald Trump enjoys being a leader, we are about to find out whether he is any good at it!

The vast majority of leaders in schools enjoy their position of responsibility and eagerly tackle the challenges faced. Most school leaders enjoy their role. Yet, staff in many schools are quick to recount stories of ineffective leadership. The saying that, ‘a fish rots from the head’ is true. Few would argue that leadership is a crucial factor in schools. Leadership has a huge impact on school culture and staff morale. We all know the difference that a great leader makes.

Enjoying leadership isn’t enough to be effective as a leader. Just like enjoying golf doesn’t mean you’ll be a success on the pro tour. (I’m deliberately leaving the other analogy alone!)

Helping school leaders to be the best leader they can be is an area I am passionate about and have three suggestions to assist you in 2017.

1. Self-awareness is vital as a leader

I developed the SurveyMySchool instrument to support school leaders in benchmarking the school’s culture. The reports from STAFF, PARENTS and STUDENTS provide clear insights into the effectiveness of the leadership and the emerging issues. You can find out more here.

You should plan to benchmark your school culture in 2017.

2. Become Recognised as an Employer of Choice

happy-school-employer-of-choice-badge-frontGreat staff make a huge difference to both the outcomes achieved by a school as well as the school’s culture. Attracting and retaining great staff is paramount. Superstar teachers – dedicated, hardworking, talented staff who have a great work ethic and a terrific attitude can afford to be fussy! They are highly sought after and in-demand. They are a great asset to a school and are in the fortunate position of being able to ‘pick and choose’ where they would like to work. To attract such staff to apply for positions in their school it is more important than ever that school leaders position their school to be the employer of choice.

Being an ‘employer of choice’ means becoming an employer who potential and existing employees want to work for, over and above others in the same marketplace. Positioning your school as an ‘Employer of Choice’ is not easy and it’s certainly not a quick fix.

Whilst school leaders in many schools don’t have a lot of flexibility with the pay or conditions that they can offer, they can position their school as an ‘Employer of Choice’ by ensuring they support a culture within their school that listens to their staff, addresses their concerns, values their staff through professional development and promotion opportunities and appreciates their staff.

Contact to apply for accreditation as an ‘Employer of Choice’.

3. Leadership Team Development Programs

We often promote great teachers to positions of leadership. Skilled and talented teachers are identified and promoted to leadership roles. However, many of these great teachers receive little guidance or professional development on leadership. Many appear to be expected to develop their leadership skills and knowledge through osmosis.

The skills of effectively teaching a class are different to the skills and knowledge required to lead people, implement a program or drive an improvement agenda. Good people are hampered by very limited exposure to the skills required in leading others.

I am passionate about helping effective teachers become highly effective leaders. However, programs for aspiring leaders are only part of the solution. Effective leadership teams need to be on the same page and have time to discuss a strategic approach.

The leadership programs are designed specifically for school leadership teams and are being offered in a number of locations across Australia in 2017. The cumulative program is designed to build leadership effectiveness and density and is presented by experienced Principal and Leadership Development expert Steve Francis.

  • 4 Half days over 2017 – gather with teams from a cluster of nearby schools for lunch and then high quality professional learning, specifically on leadership and strategic planning.
  • Designed for leadership teams from a cluster of schools to experience the same professional learning TOGETHER as a leadership team
  • Provides time away from the operational demands of school to plan strategically.


The feedback from 2014, 2015 and 2016 teams has been awesome. The clusters of leadership teams love having time to experience high quality professional learning together, to unpack and discuss what it means for their team and school and plan the next steps in implementing their shared understanding for school improvement.

The cost per participant for the program of four professional learning half days is $950 + gst. The programs are developed according to the needs of the cluster of schools from a wide range of contemporary topics.

To download a list of topics covered, click here.

Contact us to enquire about programs in your area or setting one up.