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What’s Your Reputation as a School Leader?

Whether we like it or not every leader has a reputation in the eyes of the people they lead. What three words would the people YOU lead use to describe you?

Superhero-kidCaring, considerate and confident OR Cranky, chaotic and inconsistent?

If the three words that your staff would use to describe you are not what you would like them to be then now is the time to act.

One of my favourite sayings is, “Live the reputation you want to have!” I find it very helpful to work out what THREE words you would like your staff to use to describe you and then ensure that your behaviours align with those three words.

The following are the leadership traits that I believe make a great leader and would be great to have as part of your reputation.

People person – great leaders have tremendous people skills – after all we work in the people business. They take a genuine interest in people. This is evident in them remembering names as well as faces, being “in the moment”, making good eye contact during conversations and building positive relationships. They listen well, ask great questions and make everyone feel like they are being heard and valued.

Visible – great leaders are highly visible. They know the prime times of the day when it is vital that they are not only accessible to people, but that they are seen to be available and connecting with the reality of life in schools. Being visible and available not only demonstrates interest in the reality of the school day it also helps prevent small issues being blown out of proportion.

Reliable – great leaders get things done. If they say they will do something, they work hard to make sure that happens. If they can’t deliver on what they promised they go out of their way to apologise and follow through.

Advocate – great leaders support their staff publicly and address under performance privately. They believe that everyone has untapped potential to grow and improve and give their people the confidence, resources and support to achieve their own goals.

Trustworthy – great leaders respect confidentiality. They don’t talk about people behind their backs. I’m always suspicious of a leader who criticizes someone behind their back. I wonder what they are saying about me, behind my back.

Proactive – great leaders don’t bury their head in the sand hoping that a problem will either go away or that nobody will notice, they deal with challenging situations. A terrific example of this is the leader who endeavours to address under performance. Whilst dealing with unsatisfactory performance is very challenging and personally draining, turning a blind eye, pleading helplessness just undermines the confidence of our great staff.

Selfless (I love this term) – great leaders are all about empowering their people. As acclaimed leadership expert Ken Blanchard says, “When things are going well they pay tribute to their great team. When things aren’t going so well, they accept responsibility for the issue and take ownership of not having provided the support, information or resources that their people needed to do better.”

Inspirational – great leaders bring out the best in their people. They paint a clear picture of what the future looks like and inspire staff to be a part of that success. They successfully communicate in a way that inspires others to take action and put in the necessary discretionary effort. Appealing to people’s emotions, using images, stories and metaphors they move people to take action and be part of the team. They involve others in order to give people a sense of ownership and control.

Optimistic – great leaders add energy to the group. They focus their energy on school improvement by addressing issues, solving problems and removing barriers rather than whinging and complaining. They are optimistic about the future and build teams and cultures that people want to be a part of.

Positive Attitude – great leaders have an attitude that is worth catching. The attitude of a leader is contagious – is your attitude worth catching?

Are you living the reputation you want to have?