Tuesday 3 January 2017

Leadership reflection 2016

This time of year always seems to be popular as a period for reflection.  The end of the calendar year married with the holiday, offering the required time to devote to this process synchronises perfectly.

There seems to be a very negative vibe at the moment regarding 2016 in summary with many hoping for a better 2017.

It is true there does seem to have been numerous celebrity/iconic deaths throughout the year, along with huge turmoil at home and abroad on the political scene.  With humanitarian and environmental issues televised daily it would be difficult for anyone to suggest that there is not room for improvement.

For me (as one lowly soul) I try in my reflection to focus on the positives; learning from mistakes and moving on rather than dwelling on them.

Within my role as a school business leader, there has been an ongoing period of major change for several years. Through consultation to academise and the resulting conversion process right through to setting up our own trust and subsequently rebranding to Veritas Multi Academy Trust (and the ugly bit in between).

I believe this has taken a certain type of character to lead such vision and it entails the buy in of senior leaders and staff.  Everyone needs to be singing from the same hymn sheet so to speak.

I read an article this morning which appeared harsh in part and focussed on the firing of employees.  This is possibly misaligned with the STPCD and union guidelines within the education sector...

... however, what struck a chord was the realisation that not everyone will buy in to the vision and it's ok for them to part company.  In fact it is crucial to the success of an establishment; if staff cannot support the goals and aspirations of the leadership how can they carry them out effectively?

It is important when we recruit that we paint an accurate picture of what it means to work within the organisation and what is expected from the employer and employee in order for the partnership to flourish.

Within the school system there are likely to be many long serving staff finding themselves working for very different style establishments with the move away from the traditional norm of the Local Authority to the increasingly diverse system of trusts that is emerging.

It is inevitable that for some whose working life thus far has been fairly stable may fear and oppose what could be perceived to be significant change.

I am always one for a positive or inspiring quote and below is one I came across this morning:

In life you'll realize that there is a purpose for every person you meet. Some will teach you, and some will bring out the best in you.

This was put out on Twitter by Nigel Risner (@Nigelrisner) who spoke at the NASBM national conference this year.  I was not in attendance but could literally feel the inspiration that he imparted to SBM colleagues as they tweeted during the following days.  Nigel regularly posts inspiring tweets - I particularly like this one:

So what have been my personal positives for 2016?  It has certainly been a busy one! (The list is not exhaustive and is in no particular order of priority):

  • NASBM Fellowship - in May I was accredited with this status which gave a great sense of achievement
  • MBA modules passed - during 2016 these have been centred around Change Management and Strategic Management culminating in the development of various plans and documents in particular associated with the development of our trust.  My final project looks at the benefits to be obtained from a centralised central services function in terms of provision, cost and potential impact on educational standards taking influences from international research where relevant. I have taken inspiration along the journey from my tutor @iantindal
  • Trustees approved a new position of Finance Assistant who has recently taken up post
  • Development of my Company Secretary role.  It seems to vary across trusts how much this role involves (dependent upon how much of a governance lead the trustees play and how much this service is outsourced to legal firms) but in our case this role has included not only the administrative tasks of updating trustee information with Companies House etc but providing guidance to the trustees of their statutory obligations and research into best practice particularly linked to the areas of governance, business and finance
  • Development of the MAT growth plan with the Principal and key trustees.  This initially started from research that the Principal and I had undertaken individually, we then started to formulate this into some ideas that could be shared with a core group of trustees and a MAT Growth Strategy Group was formed.  This group continues to shape our way forward
  • Said goodbye to old staff pursuing exciting new ventures and hello to newbies joining the team
  • Bulge class building works - a sizeable project to create two new classrooms - this came in on time and budget working in collaboration with the LA.  It also involved the relocation of our After School Club provision
  • Completion and submission of first set of solo accounts as a new trust in association with our accountants
  • Changing strategy for applying for capital funding; researching, engaging and working with a partner organization to complete submissions
  • Researching procurement requirements particularly in relation to Conditions Survey tendering
  • Legal process associated with the change of name for the trust and all associated tasks
  • In November I was featured in the Education Executive magazine - this was a tongue in cheek article but nonetheless getting myself out there!
  • Increased involvement in sector collaboration, linking in particular with NASBM (or should I say the IISBL?) and contemporaries via social networking streams.  This has impacted my role in several ways:  I have found useful business contacts to aid conducting projects, I have  had a sounding board with others doing the same role (the position of SBM can be quite solitary).  Of course I work within a small team and interact with other groups within the school as required but it is not like teachers or teaching assistants where there are a significant number of contemporaries on site.  Another benefit has been from a training and development perspective - leading on to the next two points
  • NASBM professional standards - this review is shaping the way I carry out my role and I look forward to sharing the set of standards with colleagues as we develop our central services offer

  • Microsoft OneNote - this has transformed the way I work (and has improved the organisation within my home life too).  I feel totally confident that as my skills develop in OneNote this will only increase its impact.  I was introduced to the idea of this through Twitter feeds and subsequently stumbled across the OneNote conference week.  Two tutorials that I found particularly inspiring were:
    • @bealers …. I had been aware of colleagues who complete handwritten journals and I had always liked the idea but struggled with how I might remember how to locate the piece of information that I might be looking for in the future with the myriad of tasks that I get involved with on a daily basis.  I had come across OneNote and this tutorial taught me how to make much better use of it; it encouraged me to start organising my thoughts and planning differently and I am now trying to include the completion of daily, weekly and monthly planning into my routines
    • @ulrikahedlund - this tutorial was intended to focus on how to use OneNote to improve organisation within your home life.  I thought this would also teach me a few tricks of how to lay things out and I have found this extremely useful - instead of having to riffle through paper files when I need something I am starting to obtain a bank of documents filed within OneNote - this includes school letters and information relating to my children, holiday planning, important receipts/guarantees the list goes on (of course this can be shared with others so in time my husband and I could share the same resource)
  • Other tech that I have used more widely in 2016 includes the Google suite of packages; in particular      Google docs and sheets. This has simplified the process for recording cash paid to the school office and accounting to the correct ledger codes easily and also several of our core SLT documents are shared and collectively updated in this way.
  • In November I was featured in the Education Executive magazine - this was a fairly tongue in cheek article but nonetheless getting myself out there!  If you fancy a chuckle check out page 46!        http://flk.bz/3xLR
  • Teach Meet - our annual all staff Teach Meet took place in November and offered a point in time to reflect on our own learning  (I presented on NASBM Professional Standards and Microsoft OneNote) and share in other's learning journeys.

It is true that some of the items encountered above would have landed on my plate regardless of the type of person I was; they are simply part of my job.  I do feel however that many of the achievements have been sought out due to my determination to ensure that we create the very best trust that we can.

An enquiring mind and a positive attitude have helped immensely.  Positivity can play an enormous role and not only in the workplace.  As I taxi along the runway leaving Canada behind, it would have been easy to focus on the negative when my daughter fell and injured her knee on the second day of our skiing holiday.  I remember there being a conscious moment in time when I told myself that this would not ruin the holiday we had been working towards all year.  No one was out to get us- it was no one's fault - it was just one of those uncontrollable things.  As a group we had to acknowledge that the holiday we had planned was not going to happen but in order for it to be a success we needed to adapt and change allowing other opportunities to present themselves.

There has been a constant need to adapt and change to our given circumstances in my working role and I think the skills learnt through studies and 'on the job' have equipped me with an ability to see the wider picture.  Research and reasoning is not a bad start to most problems and if you add in a bit of reflective practice you can improve; learning from (and understanding) your mistakes.

As I look to the new year, there is much to be excited about.  Our relatively new office team is developing well and the handover of finance tasks to our new Finance Assistant has begun.  I look forward to continuing this training in the new term.  I would like to lead the development of a Central Services team offering a customer services focus (customers being all stakeholders - parents, community, staff, pupils and outside agencies etc).  We will create an effective and efficient, systems based facility which will work across a number of schools.  Duplication in finance and admin will be reduced and group procurement will enable additional financial efficiencies.

There will be projects associated with the development of the trust - initially the development of a new website and any marketing initiatives and continued business planning.

My Principal is an advocate of Mentor Coaching and this is being developed within our organisation. I will look to prioritise this during the next 12 months both looking at my own practice and that of others as required.  If you are interested in this have a look at:

@chizkent has posted many interesting blogs related to teaching and educational leadership which may also be of interest.

Who knows what 2017 will throw at us but I at least intend to react to it with as positive an attitude as I can muster and a willingness to adapt to ensure that we don't change our goals if things don't go to plan but we change our planning.

Happy New Year!

No comments:

Post a Comment