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A good leader needs long-term vision

24 March, 2021
The accelerated evolution of education, as a result of today's dynamic society, has created a need for leaders to lead the change process effectively, with care and attention to all stakeholders. It is early education that lays the foundations for the development of future adults, which is why it is so important that the foundations in the early years are qualitative and valuable.

To help create assertive and competent leaders in early education, the FIRST7 Parent and Educator Training Centre and Helen O'Donoghue, early education trainer, director of Sunridge Associates, have designed a leadership programme for educational team coordinators and those who run nurseries and kindergartens in Romania. In the third edition of the webinar How to be a good leader in early education. Conducted with the support of Kinderpedia, Helen talked about the power of the "why", what motivates it and the need for schools to have a leader with a long-term vision. A visionary leader is one who brings the team together and motivates them around a common goal.

What personal qualities should a good leader have?

"The coordinator paves the way, the manager walks it, but the leader creates it." Peter Drucker, 1996

First of all, a good leader must know himself very well and be aware and confident of his own powers. We can be what we choose to become, we just need to be extremely careful and conscious of our choices. In order to become a good leader in education, the teacher needs to assess themselves in terms of their core role of teaching and then see how they build their journey to the next step, leadership. By the time he becomes a leader, the teacher may feel lonely and notice that people tend to drift away from him. One way to get to know yourself through the eyes of others is to conduct a 360 feedback questionnaire, i.e. anonymously gather feedback from those you interact with - colleagues, parents, subordinates. In this way, she will be able to get an objective picture of what she knows. It may also reveal things he is not aware of or find that what he does or thinks he does is not visible to others. Self-analysis should become a habit in the daily practice of a good leader. It can start with daily time for reflection - the journal is a useful tool - and continue with daily analysis of how effective one is as a leader, feedback from others - parents, friends, colleagues, and regular sessions with an objective coach or friend to lead the process.  
Once this analysis is complete, it is very important what we do with the results and how the information can help build a leader. A good teacher can only become a good leader if they know and understand who they really are and how they can use their experience as a good teacher to become a good leader. Leadership involves leading, but it also involves kindness and humanity. The journey from teacher to leader involves constant learning and evolution, through self-discovery and learning from others, without constantly losing sight of the impact on children through the learning process. Like education, leadership has changed and successful leaders are those who embrace change and seek to make the best of any situation.

Successful schools start by mobilising people around a common goal, then create systems and structures to support it. Each school has its own procedures, its own rules, and the role of the leader is to make them all converge around the original goal.

The answer to the question "Why?" is the starting point in the leadership process

Simon Sinek, quoted by Helen O'Donoghue, believes that good leadership starts with the question Why? Why do you do what you do and how can your actions improve communication at a deep level? There is a golden circle that has at its core motivation. Knowing your why, you'll know what to do and how. In the case of school, the why refers to the core purpose and values that guide all actions. The what refers to the services offered and the processes that take place in the school, and the how refers to what differentiates a particular school from the rest. The why, the purpose, helps to create schools that inspire and give us a sense that we are the creators of something great. It's a sense of complicity and emotional communion that creates the connection within the team, but also between the school and the community, and it's the leader that creates all of that. A good leader is one who refers to "us" "our school" and not "me".

When knowing the motivation, the why, a good leader can create a clear, long-term vision
Simon Sinek, quoted by Helen O'Donoghue, believes that good leadership starts with the question "Why?", "Why do you do what you do?" and "how can your actions improve communication at a deep level?".

There is a golden circle, which has at its centre the core motivation of leaders. Knowing why makes the big picture clearer and the action steps easier to outline. In the case of schools and kindergartens, leaders are guided by a main goal oriented towards improvement, and possible actions can target the services offered and the processes taking place in the institution. When leaders know the "why", the purpose, they build inspiring institutions. It is a sense of complicity and emotional communion that creates the connection within the team, but also between the school and the community, and it is the leader who generates all this. A good leader is one who is about us, our school, and not about me.

When the goal is well established, a good leader can create a clear, long-term vision

Clarity creates a positive learning culture, provides the freedom to take risks and make informed choices, and reduces the risk of syncopation. Knowing purpose leads to actions that are impactful and make a meaningful contribution to school processes. However, the core purpose and vision are not sufficient if they are not integrated and aligned with the final outcomes. A good leader sets a vision for the school, linked to long-term goals, and adapts it following discussions with teachers, parents and students. Leadership is about guiding and facilitating processes and is more than a position, it is an attitude. A good leader is inspiring and has the power to inspire others, to identify and value the potential in others.

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Leadership for Education serves as an introduction to a number of key educational leadership strategies.
It is designed for teachers, educators and school leaders who feel they need a toolkit to create a vision and build a trusted team.


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Leadership styles in education

The accelerated development of education in recent times has created new needs and standards, often with higher demands than we have known before. Among these has emerged the need for role models to set and implement standards appropriate to the current level of education, but above all to prepare the ground for the future. Education plays an important role because it is here that the foundations of all development are laid; therefore, educational specialists should pay particular attention to this sector and find the best strategies to give every child the best possible start. 

There are six leadership styles based on the categories defined by Daniel Goleman: visionary, directive, democratic, guiding, collegial, promoting. 

Each style comes with a number of advantages and is perfectly suited to certain situations. Some leadership styles we need in the short term, others in the long term, some we can use on an ad hoc basis, others we can deepen. Each of us has a style that we feel comfortable with, that represents us as leaders, but at the same time we can also practice other styles that may be useful to us at some point. An effective leader knows his or her strengths and uses them so that the goals set are achieved, but at the same time manages to remain flexible to look at other styles that he or she has not yet mastered in order to get the big picture. 

An effective leader knows his or her strengths and uses them so that the set goals are achieved. At the same time, they manage to remain flexible and look at other styles that they have not yet mastered in order to get the big picture. When the leader juggles the advantages of each leadership style easily, he or she is able to quickly embrace the dynamic changes that inevitably occur. Together with their teams, leaders are challenged to keep pace with digitisation and new learning developments. It is important that children's educational needs are met at school and at home, and this can happen when the family-educational partnership is healthy. Find out why some of the most prestigious schools and kindergartens have chosen Kinderpedia and discover for yourself the benefits of the communication and management platform for education.

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