Analysing & Identifying Personal Educational Leadership Needs: Aspects to Research and Tools to Help Analyse
Webb, C. (2017).
Before you analyse your own leadership needs, you will need to understand what is required of a school (or other educational establishment) leader. This assumes that you have read widely on the topic (blogs, books, journal papers, policy documents and school guidelines), and researched and considered the different models and theories of leadership and applied them to your local school context in the country you are working in and any relevant policies and expectations according to school ethos, vision and values.
You might have also taken the time to research what is required for particular leadership roles by evaluating job advertisements and working out what you are still missing in your own personal profile that would allow you to get that next leadership position. You might have also reflected on role model leaders you have worked with or are working with now. All of the above should give you an idea of what is required of someone in a role of school leadership.
You might also have factored in your own experience in a leadership position and already know roughly what areas for development you currently have – perhaps such a list might be derived from considering your on-the-job effectiveness and relationships with others, or based on previous performance appraisals and feedback from others.
Perhaps you are also considering eventually pursuing other goals and you know that each of these in turn will present needs for your own development in order to reach those goals. If you have worked out that your current setting is not for you due to a mismatch in values, perhaps identify the need to investigate schools where you might be more at home. This also assumes you know your own values and have analysed those against your school (see further below for tools to help you analyse your values).
Once you’ve done this legwork you’ll need to go beyond a level of description, and analyse. You might use a range of tools to do this thoroughly, and then be able to derive a list of simplified needs by using these tools.
One quick and easy way to assess, analyse and identify your own personal leadership needs is by using the well-known SWOT analysis tool. The image below (found at https://creativelead.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/swot-analysis/) is an example of how one student did this.
Once you have used the SWOT tool in this way, you can create SMART goals to focus on each weakness and threat through targets related to your own continual personal development (CPD) plan (e.g. one former Headteacher told me that when she first stepped into her role she was weak on financial management skills – having identified this she quickly made plans to address this need and obtained training to help her plug this gap). See a step by step guide on how to create your own SMART goals at https://www.smartsheet.com/blog/essential-guide-writing-smart-goals. You can do something similar with opportunities, and feed these into next steps on how to make use of opportunities. Equally, you should seek to create targets to maximize your strengths, perhaps factoring in networking, seeking out organisations that match your values, and job search activities. You might also consider sharing your strengths with others in the form of volunteering to delivery CPD sessions, writing blogs, books or papers and speaking at conferences.
From these SMART goals you could then create a Gantt chart to schedule in all your mini personal development targets, goals and plans, perhaps over the short, mid and long term (1year, 5 years, and 10 years). See https://www.ablebits.com/office-addins-blog/2014/05/23/make-gantt-chart-excel/ for some simple tips on how to create a Gantt chart.
Another tool you might use is the ‘Least Preferred Coworker’ scale, based on Fiedler’s Contingency Model. This will help you find out your so-called ‘natural leadership style’. See https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/fiedler.htm to find out more about it and instructions on how to use it yourself.
Another online tool at https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_50.htm also helps you to think about and assess your leadership skills in order to analyse personal needs.
You can also search online for lots of other leadership tests and quizzes that will help you to reflect on your own leadership skills and styles. It’s up to you to reflect on the value of these and to apply your own critical evaluation of how effective these tools are however.
Some of these might include, for example:
In addition to the above, and as hinted already, you should be aware of your own values – you should really know these before you do any SWOT or other kind of leadership style analysis. ‘Te Ipsum Nosce’ – Latin for ‘Know Yourself’. Some online tools that allow you to explore and reflect on your own values include the following (you might know some better ones though!):
Once you’ve identified your core values and what’s important to you, it’s time to look around and see if your values fit with your current working environment. Are you where you need to be or do you need to look for a better fit elsewhere? Can you try to find somewhere that values the same things as you do? In educational terms this might mean linking to schools that focus on humanist education, for example, or, perhaps a ‘no excuses’ school – it depends entirely on what you personally esteem, value and hold as beliefs. On the other hand, are you in a position of influence or leadership where you might feed your values through into your current establishment so as to seek to change your school vision, rather than you feeling as though you have to just leave your current school?
A final challenge, once you’ve got the above all wrapped up: can you ask yourself if you can articulate your own personal vision? What is your leadership vision? What would be your school vision if you got to decide? What steps do you need to take to make this reality? What changes might need to occur before your school vision was how you think it should be? What mission do you need to reach the vision? Does your vision match that of your current school? Are you in the right place? …