Sunday, 18 October 2009

Last week was one of those weeks when I go from meeting to meeting and find it hard to see the difference it makes. The great thing, however, is that you meet wonderfully talented people at these meetings... people who are doing things, creating things, changing things, making a difference and challenging the assumptions we all make about what is possible...

On Monday, I met colleagues from Hangzhou in China who were visiting their partner schools and were really impressed with our learning environments and our focus on teaching and learning. On Tuesday, I attended the corporate leadership team away-day at Farnley Hall where we looked at the budget issues and challenges facing us over the next year. At lunchtime I managed to pop out to join colleagues at Bramley Shopping centre to launch the Bramley Schools Stephen Lawrence Education Standard. At the end of the day I attended the DCSF/British Council event at the Civic Hall, celebrating the success our schools have had with the International Schools Award. On Wednesday, the Education Leeds board visited Swallow Hill Community College for their monthly meeting, and I then attended executive board to gain approval for: the consultation on the expansion of fifteen primary schools; and the closure of City of Leeds, Parklands and Primrose High schools to be replaced by two Academies and a 14 - 19 Centre. On Thursday, I attended the Leeds Strategic Plan strategy group at the Carriageworks, before Professor Stephen Parkinson and I attended leader management team to discuss the key challenges we are facing with the two leaders of Leeds City Council. On Friday, I attended leadership forum at the West Park Centre to talk to colleagues, before moving on to Weetwood Hall to talk to the secondary headteachers, finally going to the Thorpe Park Hotel for meeting of the Leeds skills board with Phil Willis MP who chairs the Commons Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills.

I know I am incredibly lucky that I work in an organisation where people, partnerships and relationships are central to everything we do, and weeks like this remind me that we need to focus on improving communications and listening to colleagues' feedback so that everyone is clear: why we are doing what we are doing; that we are responsive to criticism, ideas and alternatives; and that we value colleagues' contributions and viewpoints. And it's true, you know, that you get back what you give away... smile and the world smiles with you... laugh and the world laughs with you... compliment people and the compliments come flooding back... trust people and they repay you by the bucketload. Sadly some people haven't a clue about this and they simply let their own limitations and frustrations get in the way. We must all remember that good communication lies at the heart of our success and it's true that being positive helps colleagues to be their brilliant and outstanding best.

These are some of the things I have learnt about leading successfully... we must:
  • always try to see the bigger picture;
  • always be as positive as possible;
  • always share ideas and problems;
  • always tell the truth;
  • always listen carefully to what is being said;
  • always smile whatever happens;
  • always go the extra mile; and
  • always say thank you.


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