Friday, 13 July 2018

How Leadership Changed Me

Leadership changes people, or at least leadership has most definitely changed me! Had you asked me four years ago whether I wanted to be a school leader I would have given you a resounding no, nope, definitely not! However, on writing this post I have been in school leadership for three years and leadership has changed me in many ways.
Next year I will step down from leadership and go back to a full-time class teacher role. This is partly to work on some personal goals that I want to achieve, but also because I want to spend a year focussing on great teaching and re-assessing whether leadership is for me.

Leadership changed me in many ways; some good, some bad.

Confidence - This has been the biggest change for me. As a teacher in the UK, I never felt good enough. Even though I received positive feedback from the schools I worked in, I would keep my ideas to myself and never felt like I was a good teacher. On entering leadership, I made decisions based on my knowledge and when those decisions worked out, my confidence increased and I realised that actually, I did know what I was doing. This has continued to grow and I'm now in a position where I would feel confident in my ability as a teacher no matter where I worked.

I grew balls. Very big balls!  - Before taking on the role of leadership I was a very quiet, shy person; not really the kind of person you would expect to be in a leadership position. While I don't go looking for it, in the role of leadership you often have to take on confrontation and challenging conversations. They were always the hardest thing for me to do and I would feel sick to my stomach at the thought of taking them on. Fast-forward three years and they are a breeze now. I know they have to happen so it's much easier to just get them over with, and I do!

I learnt how to utilise every second of my time - Teaching is a busy job, there is never enough time in the day. Throw leadership into the mix and 24 hours just isn't a long enough day to tick off your to-do list. I quickly realised that time was one of the most valuable things to a leader and so I stopped wasting it. I stopped spending hours perfecting every detail, talking too much about a task instead of doing it and flitting from one task to another. I set out my goal, sat down and hammered it out so that I could move onto the next task. I can't recommend this approach enough to others who struggle with not having enough time in the day.

I lost my ability to sympathise - For me, this is a con to the changes I have experienced in leadership. I'm very much a 'get on with it' kind of person who is rarely off sick and would much rather suck up an undesired task than complain about it. In my leadership role I have realised that not many people are like that; many love to complain, often about the smallest of things. As a leader, when things are not done properly or people complain about tasks I am now completely unable to sympathise. I never expect people to do anything that I wouldn't do, but when others complain about things, I find myself making the right noises while inwardly groaning as my frustrations grow.

I became solution-focused - As a leader there is nobody to fix a problem for you, it's your job. I am pretty good at identifying problems, but as a leader I have also become good at finding solutions too. As soon as I spot a problem, I find myself brainstorming ways to resolve it and acting on them. This is a far step from how I used to be and I really appreciate this change that leadership has given me.

I stopped standing still - During my time in leadership I have thrived on change. There is nothing I love more that writing proposals, planning changes, actioning them and seeing their success. As soon as one project has finished, I find myself looking for another. I'm always looking for ways to move forward and the buzz that I get when I find a new project makes it all worthwhile.

I became 'busy' - This is the one that has pushed me to step down from leadership for the year and re-assess whether it is for me. Prior to leadership I was a fun-loving person who prioritised people and life. Leadership has made me busy; sometimes I am genuinely busy but sometimes I am just 'busy.' I don't want to be somebody who is too busy for the important things in life which is the reason I have chosen to make a change. I'm interested, are all leaders 'busy'?

There are so many others ways that leadership changed me, but these are probably the biggest.

Does leadership change us all? Have you changed in your role as a leader? I'd love to know your thoughts, leave a comment to let me know. 
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