Over the coming months I will share my experiences of the two years which have led to the second group of staff from Catholic College Wodonga participating in the Leadership Development Series (LDS). Interestingly, there were two significant moments that led to my decision to explore how I could develop leadership skills at Catholic College Wodonga.
Firstly, in the second half of 2016 I had my mid contract appraisal. The appraisal was facilitated by Educational Consultant, Ann Sexton. Ann’s approach was highly reflective, using the feedback from staff to assist in opening up a conversation for future growth. What pleased me the most was the focus on leveraging off my strengths as a leader.
The following comment,
“Take time to provide deeper guidance to those in positions of leadership,” was the catalyst for a rich discussion. It became very clear to me that one of the roles of a Principal not just to assist staff who are leading or aspiring to lead and to develop their skills, but to facilitate opportunities for this to actually happen.
The second moment came through my participation in the ACEL Early Career Principal Program in which I participated throughout 2016. A key aspect of the program was the appointment of a leadership and development coach for the year. I was incredibly fortunate to have Dr. Paul Browning, Headmaster of St. Paul’s School Brisbane, as my coach. Paul and I were able to explore the concept of leadership development within a school through the work he had done with his staff.
My ‘why’ as Simon Sinek the author of “Start With Why,” would say had become clear. I believe that if I am able to assist staff develop their skills as a leader, then they in turn will increase the outcomes for staff and students in our community.
Within regional settings such as Albury/Wodonga, exposure to professional development is limited. A great deal of professional development is offered in capital cities such as Melbourne or Sydney. Further to this Paul highlight that the vast majority of professional development was conducted by the staff in his school, they were the experts. Added to this, not all staff had the time to enrol in University or TAFE courses as the juggle between professional and family life can be very difficult. From these two key moments, the concept of providing professional development for staff, regardless of their role, was born.
Paul again provided further direction, pointing me to the work of Kouzes and Posner, as well as Lencioni. This, combined with other reading from authors such as Sinek and Fullan, and the insightful formation provided to me from Brendan Spillane lead to the first draft of the Leadership Development Series in early 2017. Finally, I placed one other key “driver” in the timeline to being ready to deliver LDS in the second half of 2017. I was to present to Australian and New Zealand Catholic Principal’s on the title of “Developing Leadership from within,” by May of 2017.
So, the challenge was before me, it’s now time to combine the research with an approach that would resonate with staff and other leaders to whom I was presenting. My ‘why’ has quickly becoming “how”?