If we didn’t have managers, where would we be? If we didn’t manage the operational side of our organizational practice, would anything get done on time to budget? You might argue that with the right staff and leadership team in place, then, yes. But is it as simple as that? Can you afford to be negligent and ignore the book keeping, stock control and resource side of day to day life in the workplace? The simple answer is obviously, no. Even the most transformational and visionary of distributed school leaders, expert in the finer arts of coaching and mentoring in place of lesson observations attached to performance appraisals, needs to keep an eye on the operational managerial as well as the touchy feely human stuff.
It’s a good job then that we have excellent resources available for our own CPD that can help plug those gaps if all we’ve done is teach RE for the past 5 years and now we decide we would like to make the leap to middle leadership and beyond: resources that allow us to learn independently and empower us forward.
The Chartered Management Institute not only provides membership with associated qualifications and training from level 3 to 7 in team management, supervision skills, coaching and mentoring and more, but it also gives you a kick start with ongoing CPD that you can be getting on with by yourself. One way the CMI has done this ready for your big leap forward in 2018 is by creating their CMI Management Book of the Year Shortlist. I’ve given this list some thought as to how their value in the context of school leadership and management might be recognized.
Firstly, under the heading of ‘practical manager’ they list ‘Time, Talent, Energy’ by Michael Mankins and Eric Garton as a book that will revolutionize the way you unleash the productive power of the people in your care – perhaps one to evaluate against the teacher workload problem then? Or might this just be a step or two on from time and motion measurement studies? I’ll leave to you read, think and share!
Next, they recommend Harvard Business School Professor Joseph Badaracco’s ‘Defining Moments’ – a book about managers facing situations that trigger conflicts with their personal values and what to do in such circumstances. Perhaps this will help those of you working in a no excuses school who suddenly realize they were meant for humanist Montessori settings after all. Or perhaps you never realized how trad you were until you looked around you in the staffroom and noticed the progs had you surrounded.
Third, ‘The Finance Book’ – an introduction for all managers needed to understand the language of finance: an essential piece of reading for all aspiring school heads who at some stage will have to decide how they are going to spend the school budget or perhaps approach the MAT board with a business case to make some radical changes. Also, if you want to start up your own Free School and are looking for sponsors, this might just help you clinch the deal!
Fourth, ‘Strategy Journeys’ – tells you how to put together a strategic plan. Again, useful for implanting change or starting up your own school.
Under the section of ‘Management Futures’ – for those school managerial jobs that don’t exist yet, is a selection of books to prepare to be one such manager of the future. One assumption seems to be that things are going to get increasingly techy, and increasingly changey. So the first book on this list is ‘Building Digital Culture’ – one to help you manage your data even better than you currently might be trying to, based on the idea that you will need that data to help you respond to regular change. SIMS be gone! Here you have some new technical sorcery to wave your lazer beam enhanced IWB clicker at.
The next book on their list under this category is ‘Fully Connected’ by Julia Hobsbawm. Perhaps this may be the missing link between data and social media overload we have all been looking for – a manager’s version of mindfulness and wellbeing for the practical school leader of the future who, again, doesn’t want his NQTs running off under workload avalanches or fear of data. Never mind the future – this is a now problem, surely?
‘Inclusive Leadership’ looks like one for the #BAMEed and #WomenEd book shelf for sure, but not to be dismissed by any in SLT, ever again methinks! The CMI say of this book: “The most successful organisations are those with the most diverse and engaged workforces. Studies show an 80 per cent improvement in business performance among those with high diversity levels. When people feel included and able to reach their full potential, they are more engaged, more productive and often more creative. Inclusive Leadership will help you drive culture change using organisational development principles”[i]. Just what the head teacher should have ordered perhaps?
Have you ever got jaded by the amount of policy updates you get through as a school leader? Or DfE/Ofsted induced changes you are made to feel you have to jump through the hoops for? Have your staff lost the will to live and find it hard to respond with enthusiasm and motivation when change is ushered in? Then maybe ‘Disruption Denial’ is a book for you and your team. They say at least recognizing you have a problem is a step towards solving it. So here you go!
Under the heading of ‘Commuter Reads’, the CMI draws our attention to another one for #WomenEd advocates: ‘The Paula Principle”. They explain (what WE know already!): “An expert on innovation and work argues that many highly capable women are not being recognised, and that this harms businesses, societies, and individuals alike. Whereas The Peter Principle, a four-million–copy bestseller from the 1960s, argued that most (male) workers will inevitably be promoted to one level beyond their competence, Tom Schuller shows how women today face the opposite scenario: their skills are being wasted.”[ii]
Another tome in futurology, ‘Megatech’ comes next on the list – one to help you consider, along with scientists, industry leaders and science fiction writers, what the world, or possibly your school and classroom will look like by 2050 and how you will manage it. Probably a step beyond dinner supervisors floating the school corridors on invisible hovercraft no doubt. Perhaps Matrix style lessons where children don’t even need to get out of bed and come to school? Learning can just be downloaded digitally via the ether?
Next, ever wondered how Steve Jobs, Marie Curie or Thomas Edison might have run your school if they were on SLT or made the leap to headship? Well, now’s your chance, ‘Think Like an Innovator’ will help you consider how!
Finally, in this category, comes one we all need on a daily basis for when we think to ourselves, “I could have said that better!” Perhaps you had to give a teacher some feedback on their obs and didn’t get quite the response you were looking for? Well, “The Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook” could be just for you! What everyone in a managerial position needs. In bucket loads!
Finally, finally, in the last category of all, come five books recommended for those new or aspiring managers among you already on the stairway to leadership and management heaven by way of some kind of CPD course (see more at http://yearbook.managers.org.uk/shortlist/shortlist-2018/new-manager/). Books recommended here include: ‘Potential’ (to help you assess your strengths – essential when carrying out a leadership needs analysis for an MA Education L&M course!); ‘Happy Working Relationships’ by Simon Jones – a guide to people management intertwined with current employment law – remind yourself on how to survive in the staffroom and not lose your job; the ‘Harvard Business Review’s Manager’s Handbook’ – an essential ‘Bible’ for all would-be managers covering everything from finance and strategy to recruitment and emotional intelligence – the very thing every English teacher stepping up to HoD needs under their Christmas tree this 25th; and, ‘Brilliant Coaching 3rd Edition’ – you all know how coaching and mentoring is the new appraisal post lesson obs, so don’t be shy.
And that’s all folks (well, not quite, I did leave a few out – see http://yearbook.managers.org.uk/shortlist/shortlist-2018/ for the full short list under category headings).
What books would you recommend for new or aspiring school leaders and managers?