7 Middle Leadership Behaviours Explained for Practice by 17 School Heads and SLT Staff – by @DrCWebbBAPhD

What behaviours should a middle leader in a school environment demonstrate? What is going to be expected of you if you are aspiring to such a role? Is there anything you can be doing now that will help you to work towards becoming a good middle leader as defined by such behaviours? The UK DfE (Department for Education) outlines 7 behaviours as part of the leadership development National Professional Qualification (NPQ) suite that are expected of all leaders in schools to be developing and improving on. These include: commitment, collaboration, personal drive, awareness, resilience, integrity and respect. But what do these mean? These behaviour labels may seem intangible. In what way might you be able to show an example of these in your working life in school? I asked 17 school heads and members of senior leadership teams to share their views on how they would expect middle leaders to demonstrate these behaviours in practice. This is what they said – what would you say?



“Commitment – an example of how they have gone over and above in their work” – Mary, Special School Headteacher, @Mishwood1


“Dedication to doing the best they can for each individual learner and for each member of their team. Working hard and leading by example” – Jill Berry, Former head, now leadership consultant, @JillBerry102


“By going the extra mile and ensuring they are constantly developing self and team” – Kathleen Sorrell, Vice Principal, @Kat_S76


“Aligning themselves fully to the vision within the academy and following through” – Helena Brothwell, Principal, – @educurious2015


“We expect this of all of our teachers but I think for middle leaders that real ‘commitment’ to improving practice and driving practice forward outside of own classroom and indeed their own school is imperative. That middle leaders can demonstrate real impact wider and across the system whether that is through peer to peer support, leading CPD, leading a small team or leading on a particular initiative – all of the above show real commitment to improving the quality of teaching and learning through leadership. It has to be about that commitment to growing others and having impact to improve outcomes for all children” – Emma Bone, Executive Head and National Leader for Education, @bo_ebone


“A middle leader must be fully committed to school values, culture and vision. They must also be committed to the school priorities and ensure that those are met. One way of demonstrating these commitments is by supporting and managing up. Another way is by leading by example and thinking about how others perceive you” – Anoara Mughal, AHT, @anoara_a

“They should strive to meet deadlines and strive to ensure others do too”– Caroline Doolan, Assistant Head, @caroline_doolan

“I want to see a shared passion to transform lives, learning & communities in the disadvantaged & challenging contexts that I work. I want to see a commitment to the school values driven vision” – Patrick Ottley-O’Connor, Executive Principal & Leadership Coach, @ottleyoconnor

“Undertaking study towards a qualification – for example NCETM offer training to improve maths teaching, and a coordinator with additional personal expertise will be better able to fulfill their role”  – Roy Souter, Headteacher, @Exe_Head

“As we are in the business of helping students succeed, I would be looking for people truly committed to helping ALL students. The most impressive educators are those that constantly go the extra mile to support our struggling students and those that are harder to love” – Charles Martin, Assistant Principal, @MrCharlesMartin

 “See projects through to fruition. It’s not always about looking for the next step for promotion. Show that you care about the school and most importantly the pupils” – Tim Head, Assistant Head, @MrHeadComputing

“1) Length of time at school and current role or examples of loyalty at previous school, 2) Positive promotion of school with external stakeholders” – Stuart Maginnis, Principal, @StuartMaginnis

“Developing autonomy in the role, moving from seeking permission to innovate towards seeking guidance having already come up with ideas and having begun to put them into practice” – Jonny Walker, Primary Assistant Head, @JonnyWalker_Edu


“Prepared to give own time and effort to developing a less experienced colleague” – Andrew Cowley, Primary DHT, @andrew_cowley23


“Adherence to the school vision/ethos, devotion to the pursuit of excellence for all students. Walk the talk“ – Mark Adams, Senior Vice Principal, @2Markdavid

“Understanding the requirements of the role and ensuring the desired outcomes are achieved” – Damian Weare, Vice Principal, @damianweare46



“How they have influenced / led change involving a group of others in school” – Mary, Special School Headteacher, @Mishwood1


“Working AS a team and not just IN a team (as Dylan William says) – recognising that the strength of the team lies in the effective facilitation of the complementary skills and strengths of all members. The ML does not have to be the one with all the answers! Clear recognition and discussion of that” – Jill Berry, Former head, now leadership consultant, @JillBerry102


By being open to various methods of developing, for example teach meets, Facebook groups, working with different subject areas” – Kathleen Sorrell, Vice Principal, @Kat_S76


“Working with colleagues to share their best practice. Putting themselves out to support others, e.g letting new staff observe them” – Helena Brothwell, Principal, @educurious2015


“For me, when I did my NPQH the bit that most resonated about growing new teams and ‘Leading from the Middle’ was the idea of Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing. I have returned to this many times particularly when growing a new SLT as I have now done several times. At the heart of collaboration is listening, really listening. The stages – forming: when middle leaders begin to learn about each other and start to develop a rationale for how their group will function. As a Senior Leader, what I am looking for here is those who listen, evaluate, reflect and demonstrate understanding and credibility. Storming: The stage where differences and conflict potentially come to light – particularly when members are new to the team. A period of growth will result often as a direct result of conflict! Norming: this is the beginning of realising the power of true collaboration. A sense of shared goals and visions are achieved and productivity increases as a result and relationships flourish with all pulling in the same direction. Performing: where the sky is the limit. This means the team have achieved the utopia of healthy professional disagreement and harness the power of it to achieve true growth. Progress in this way is only possible where true collaboration exists. At its strongest, every member fully embraces accountability for every child and every team member” – Emma Bone, Executive Head and National Leader for Education, @bo_ebone


“Collaboration begins with opening up the doors of communication, listening, developing a team culture and having a motivating demeanour. Making yourself available to staff is also important. Having an open door policy and giving staff time even when they may have 100 e-mails to attend to or books to mark. Sharing resources and insights about pupils is also a collaborative strategy. Consulting with staff and pupils to identify issues in the department are also important. Effective communication is also important when establishing the vision and purpose and also to understand the rationale behind the day-to-day decisions. Frequent dialogue sharing whether it is discussing teaching and learning or issues arising in the department is a key feature of the collaborative process” – Anoara Mughal, AHT, @anoara_a

“Be willing to work with senior leaders to make and shape policies and also other departments to move the school forward, e.g. amending the marking policy” – Caroline Doolan, Assistant Head, @caroline_doolan

“Middle leaders need to be able to enthuse & engage their team through articulating a compelling vision to empower them to effect impactful & sustainable change. I regard myself as a collaborative entrepreneur & look for others with the intention to lead through motivating and energising students, colleagues and other educational staff, uniting them around a shared values driven vision. In addition middle leaders must be able to empower colleagues so that they secure personal growth by utilising a well-developed toolkit, including, coaching, mentoring, supporting & challenging team members to be the best they can be” – Patrick Ottley-O’Connor, Executive Principal & Leadership Coach, @ottleyoconnor


“Attending and participating fully in any training events and meetings with colleagues performing the same role in other schools. Being able and willing to share their ideas, as well as to use the ideas of others to refine practice in our school” – Roy Souter, Headteacher, @Exe_Head

“I love team players, people always willing to give a hand. Everyone is busy but it’s often always the same ones raising their hand to volunteer their help” – Charles Martin, Assistant Principal, @MrCharlesMartin

“Work with the SLT, with staff in other phases and other schools. Moderate with others to check your own practice. It also stops you from getting stale and “doing what we have always done” – Tim Head, Assistant Head, @MrHeadComputing


“1) Working positively with dept’ colleagues, 2) Promoting work with colleagues around the school and celebrating the success of this, 3) Actively seeking to work with external colleagues and organisations” – Stuart Maginnis, Principal, @StuartMaginnis


“A sensitivity toward the ways in which their work might impact upon the work of others, and a desire to tackle issues alongside colleagues, rather than ‘competing’ for esteem or for other school resources like curriculum time and CPD time” – Jonny Walker, Primary Assistant Head, @JonnyWalker_Edu


“Working with an open mind with subject leaders in other schools in moderation and sharing work” – Andrew Cowley, Primary DHT, @andrew_cowley23


“Working effectively with all stakeholders (internal and external) to secure the above [commitment]. Cross curricular, working parties, effective parental engagement etc“ – Mark Adams, Senior Vice Principal, @2Markdavid


“Problem solving as a member of a team and contributing solutions for consideration” – Damian Weare, Vice Principal, @damianweare46


Personal Drive


“CPD they have initiated themselves e.g. reading they’ve done or training they’ve been on” – Mary, Special School Headteacher, @Mishwood1


“Determination to continue to learn and grow as a leader. Acceptance that they have never ‘cracked it’ and a commitment to their ongoing learning and development – whether they aspire to Senior Leadership of not” – Jill Berry, Former head, now leadership consultant, @JillBerry102


By always seeking to be the best and being open to learning” – Kathleen Sorrell, Vice Principal, @Kat_S76


“I was always taught to do the job you want, not the job you have. I value it when staff step up first and demonstrate why I need them at the next level, then when a role comes up they are well placed” – Helena Brothwell, Principal, @educurious2015


“Personal Drive is not, for me, about doing more things but showing a commitment to do things well. Personal Drive is what gets people out of bed in the morning and that is different for different people but as a Senior Leader I am looking for those who turn ideas into action and action into results. They are tough in times of challenge and lead by example (set the weather!). They are able to be truly reflective, demonstrate resilience and model this for all team members. As developing leaders it is about getting their teams to understand not the what but the why – about empowering others to deliver great results” – Emma Bone, Executive Head and National Leader for Education, @bo_ebone


“This is an important leadership behaviour. Having ambition and inner drive to make and implement change and sustain it is required to drive change at school level. A middle leader must have high standards of their staff and pupils and be results driven. They must be ambitious for themselves, their staff and the pupils they teach” – Anoara Mughal, AHT, @anoara_a

“Be reflective as well as ambitious, thinking about their own performance and that of their team so that improvements are made” – Caroline Doolan, Assistant Head, @caroline_doolan

“I want middle leaders to be ambitious. Not just for themselves, but for their colleagues & all students. They should have the same high expectations of themselves as they do of those that lead them, their team & their students. Middle leaders should continually seek opportunities to support the development of their colleagues. I look for leaders that are prepared to work outside of their comfort zone. They should have a willingness to learn & develop/acquire new knowledge, skills or experiences regardless of the personal challenge” – Patrick Ottley-O’Connor, Executive Principal & Leadership Coach, @ottleyoconnor


“Putting themselves forward to take part in activities outside the core role of class teacher. For example, offering to run the School Council, shadowing senior leaders, running an after school reading event. Not waiting to be asked, but taking the initiative and suggesting things that will benefit the children” – Roy Souter, Headteacher, @Exe_Head

“Leaders must first and foremost be learners. I would look for educators that have a track record of being involved in continuous and never-ending improvement. Professional growth is our responsibility. I would be looking for people that assume that responsibility” – Charles Martin, Assistant Principal, @MrCharlesMartin

“Understand how you want to improve yourself as a leader, but understand that this must be driven by how you can help the pupils. How is you going on umpteen courses going to translate into benefits for your pupils?” – Tim Head, Assistant Head, @MrHeadComputing


“1) Looking to keep aware of subject changes, 2) Take responsibility of their own CPD, 3) Looks for whole school responsibility” – Stuart Maginnis, Principal, @StuartMaginnis


“A desire to self-improve is evident through personal and professional actions” – Andrew Cowley, Primary DHT, @andrew_cowley23


“Ambition and determination to be the best at what they do. Dedicated“ – Mark Adams, Senior Vice Principal, @2Markdavid


“The desire to be successful, demonstrated through attention to detail and the capacity to achieve goals” – Damian Weare, Vice Principal, @damianweare46




“How they have recognised challenges in achieving a goal but have overcome those challenges and achieved the goal anyway” – Mary, Special School Headteacher, @Mishwood1


“The capacity to recover (quickly) from mistakes/failures/disappointments – not to dwell on them and ‘hug the hurt’ to themselves, but to be determined to reflect, learn and move on – do better next time” – Jill Berry, Former head, now leadership consultant, @JillBerry102


By being strong in character despite challenges” – Kathleen Sorrell, Vice Principal, @Kat_S76


“Resilience is key in the school I work in and is a key part of our values. Staff must be able to withstand tricky days, emotionally and physically, so we take well-being very seriously and work hard to reduce workloads” – Helena Brothwell, Principal, @educurious2015


“Crucial. It’s a hugely rewarding role but can, at times, be tough. I think particularly middle leadership as you are often the conduit between the Head and the team. Sometimes you have to stick your smile on, roll up your sleeves and get on with it and that resilience is supported only when you have an SLT that work truly as a team. The dictionary definition of resilience is all about ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.’ Are middle leaders able to be truly reflective and constantly driven to re-evaluate and improve their own practice – if they don’t it is going to be incredibly hard for them to achieve credibility with their teams” – Emma Bone, Executive Head and National Leader for Education, @bo_ebone


“This can be demonstrated by having a strong character, never giving up in the face of adversity, being solutions focused. Encouraging others and inspiring in the face of adversity, having a growth mindset and being bold. Being prepared and expecting to fail and being able to self-reflect from that failure makes a middle leader highly resilient. Having a solutions focused attitude can help you get back up and start again. When the going gets tough, being part of a professional network both within and beyond school can be useful and can add to the resilience. Being professionally informed and bold can also improve resilience. Having the weight of research evidence, as back up or stimulus, when risk-taking means that you can develop justification when trialling new teaching methods” – Anoara Mughal, AHT, @anoara_a

“Adapting to changes and potentially stressful situations and remaining calm. E.g. being head of department and sorting cover when two colleagues call in sick” – Caroline Doolan, Assistant Head, @caroline_doolan


“I tell middle leaders that “We learn from mistakes & some days I do a lot of learning!” I genuinely believe that we should learn from our mistakes & actively share & celebrate these learning opportunities! It is by modelling and demonstrating this level of emotional maturity that enables leaders to remain focused when faced by increasingly challenging circumstances. I look for middle leaders who demonstrate the ability to respond appropriately, manage uncertainty and bounce back even in times of pressure and the most trying of situations. I also expect middle leaders to own their own mental health and wellbeing. As well as looking after their colleagues, they must be able to demonstrate that they can and will look after themselves” – Patrick Ottley-O’Connor, Executive Principal & Leadership Coach, @ottleyoconnor


“Resilience, for me is the most powerful attribute a leader can have in their armour. It doesn’t come naturally. Experience. In our roles, we will constantly have high expectations of our learners and of ourselves. And yes, ultimately we are under relentless pressure. As a leader, I have the expectation that leaders around me will adopt a mind-set that is positive. In every scenario or moment. We are all presented with many challenging circumstances but quite simply, we should approach with an intent to resolve and move forward for all involved. Being resilient for me, we display strong character and awareness of others. Others are important. Because we work together. We bounce back and we try to lead by example. A leader who learns from a negative experience is a leader who will be stronger next time. Emotional intelligence. Nothing is easy. We should give leaders time, opportunity and support to approach with an intent to resolve and move forward. Positively” – Ritesh Patel, SLE, @Mr_Patel100

“Resilience isn’t about how you feel, but how you react to those feelings. No-one likes being challenged or to have their ideas questioned, but if you are asking teachers to change their practice they won’t always do this without being convinced that it’s the right thing to do. Understanding that initial negativity is not personal is a huge step” – Roy Souter, Headteacher, @Exe_Head

“Leadership is a demanding job. Resilience is in large part the result of having a clear set of values and beliefs. People that know who they are, what they want and what they believe in are more apt to stay the course when they face bumps along the way. Therefore, I would look for people that have deeply reflected about their profession and have a strong internal compass that guides them” – Charles Martin, Assistant Principal, @MrCharlesMartin

 “Leadership is tough. Some days more so than others. You need to be able to develop a thick skin when parents are not happy. You also need to use this when you learn horrifying things about children through safeguarding issues. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and face each new day with a smile” – Tim Head, Assistant Head, @MrHeadComputing


“1) How they react when things get tough – can’t be a mood Hoover! 2) solution focussed leaders” – Stuart Maginnis, Principal, @StuartMaginnis


“Developing awareness of the inevitability that things will not always go as well as planned, but the versatility to recognise the bad in a seemingly good outcome, and the good in a seemingly bad outcome. This ‘rolling with the punches’ allows for a more resilient approach to the role, which doesn’t require regular Herculean acts of strength and perfection, but regular sustainable improvements, even if small” – Jonny Walker, Primary Assistant Head, @JonnyWalker_Edu


“Able to recognise what may not have worked but to learn from it and not to walk away” – Andrew Cowley, Primary DHT, @andrew_cowley23


“An unyielding drive in the pursuit of excellence, solution focused, unwavering in the face of barriers” – Mark Adams, Senior Vice Principal, @2Markdavid


“Adapting to changes quickly, positively and in a professional manner” – Damian Weare, Vice Principal, @damianweare46




“Able to see / understand the whole school picture and understand how decisions they are making impact on the wider school” – Mary, Special School Headteacher, @Mishwood1


“To know each member of their team, and the students they teach, very well. What are they good at – and are we making the most of it? Where are they developing, and what support and constructive challenge do I need to offer them if they are to be their personal and professional best? – Jill Berry, Former head, now leadership consultant, @JillBerry102


By recognising when further or different action is required and not being shy to address issues” – Kathleen Sorrell, Vice Principal, @Kat_S76


“Critical to building relationships at all levels – this is the bit you can’t teach. Staff must be self-aware and able to adapt on a six-pence to any given situation” – Helena Brothwell, Principal, @educurious2015


“Awareness of self is crucial as is awareness of others around them. Listening, looking and reflecting. Are they able to really look at themselves as leaders? Know thy impact? Are they aware that they set the weather – strive for the best but also make decisions to gate keep staff from new initiatives for example? Are they able to take feedback and constructive criticism and truly understand their leadership styles and the impact that each will have on others? Emotional intelligence is a critical skill here too” – Emma Bone, Executive Head and National Leader for Education, @bo_ebone


“Awareness is required for team building and deploying staff effectively. Being perceptive and having an understanding about how a member of staff may be feeling is a key skill for a middle leader. Balancing support and challenge at the right time can be skilfully used to enhance performance. Self-awareness to situations is crucial for a middle leader. In addition to this, having an awareness of others, including individual motivating factors and strengths is also important. Having diplomacy and holding people to account is also important. Middle leaders need to be aware of current research, practice and pedagogy. A middle leader also needs to be diplomatic, being able to have difficult conversations without alienation. Other areas where diplomacy is required include when giving feedback, managing up and reviewing performance. Middle leaders must not only be fully committed to the role itself but also have an awareness and commitment to the language they use to promote positive behaviours from those they lead” – Anoara Mughal, AHT, @anoara_a

“Being aware of the needs and qualities of their team and using but also developing them accordingly. E.g. setting up a working party to improve the marking in the department” – Caroline Doolan, Assistant Head, @caroline_doolan

“I look for middle leaders that have an accurate perception of their own strengths, weaknesses and unconscious bias, as well as knowing how their own behaviour impacts on others and what actions are required to take steps to improve. Middle leaders must see and own their own emotional triggers and manage these effectively, as well as understanding their own level of capability, accountability and authority in any situation” – Patrick Ottley-O’Connor, Executive Principal & Leadership Coach, @ottleyoconnor


 “Knowing when to push and when to ease off a bit. Linked to resilience, when you’re asking people to try something new or different listen to their responses, and be prepared to slow down the implementation of a new strategy or approach if people are struggling” – Roy Souter, Headteacher, @Exe_Head

“As a leader, it is important to have empathy. I would be looking for people who know their surroundings, who spend the time to connect with their colleagues and students. You can’t really be aware of your environment if you don’t know your people” – Charles Martin, Assistant Principal, @MrCharlesMartin

“Every decision and action you take is like dropping a pebble into a lake. It is the ripples that can cause upset. Not just the initial splash. Also know your staff well enough to spot when all is not right. People will not always tell you when they are struggling” – Tim Head, Assistant Head, @MrHeadComputing


“Keep up to date with subject pedagogy and exam board changes” – Stuart Maginnis, Principal, @StuartMaginnis


“A clear recognition of the realities of what goes on in classrooms, and the understanding that it is this – rather than what they have on their action plan – that will guide them towards a clearer picture of how things are going. An idea may be great, but may not work immediately in practice; is the teacher present enough across the school to see this, and to talk to teachers about it? And in addition, there should be an emotional awareness of how their interactions might affect others – this cannot be presumed, and may need to be coached” – Jonny Walker, Primary Assistant Head, @JonnyWalker_Edu


“Knowing when to intervene/stop talking/leave another to develop for self” – Andrew Cowley, Primary DHT, @andrew_cowley23


An appreciation of the latest evidence based research. An acute awareness of performance of staff and students” – Mark Adams, Senior Vice Principal, @2Markdavid


“Show empathy, know the team and build upon the individual members’ strengths whilst being aware of their weaknesses, then providing appropriate support and guidance” – Damian Weare, Vice Principal, @damianweare46




“Doing what is right by the children even it is a challenging conversation with someone they work with / have a friendship with – – Mary, Special School Headteacher, @Mishwood1


“Always honest, truthful, open. Never complain about one member of the team to another. Don’t over-promise, and delivery what they say they will” – Jill Berry, Former head, now leadership consultant, @JillBerry102


By living out sound moral values at all times” – Kathleen Sorrell, Vice Principal, @Kat_S76


“Integrity – because what do you have if you don’t have that?” – Helena Brothwell, Principal, @educurious2015


“The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles – crucial in leadership. This is particularly difficult at times when different educators may have different moral principles. For our team – our key principle is ‘Children first – in every decision that we take’ – this is what I am looking for in our middle leaders. That through tricky conversations, tough decisions they keep this at the forefront. Sometimes it is necessary to deliver tough messages and that shouldn’t be involved for the good of our children but always done with honesty and care. Deliver the tough messages and survive the tough times but remember to treat all with dignity and respect” – Emma Bone, Executive Head and National Leader for Education, @bo_ebone


“Middle leaders must have the ability to develop relational trust between team members. This will enable collaboration and innovation. In addition to this there must a personal regard for others and expertise of teaching and learning. Openness where leaders tactfully but honestly share their views and raise concerns leads to high levels of integrity. They must lead by example and demonstrate moral leadership” – Anoara Mughal, AHT, @anoara_a

“Thinking before speaking, not gossiping, not building a ‘them and us’ between head of department and SLT. Even if they don’t agree with the decision they must be seen to support it in front of colleagues” – Caroline Doolan, Assistant Head, @caroline_doolan

“I expect middle leaders to act in ways that are principled and built upon a clear set of personal values. A middle leader must model an unswerving belief that they have a crucial role to play in changing lives and improving life chances. It is not enough to honestly say the right thing; instead, a middle leader’s behaviour, actions and decisions must be made with the best interests of children at heart” – Patrick Ottley-O’Connor, Executive Principal & Leadership Coach, @ottleyoconnor


“Don’t say anything unkind or untrue to or about anyone. As Gandhi said, ‘Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony” – Roy Souter, Headteacher, @Exe_Head

“I would be looking for educators that constantly display strong moral principles and honesty in how they interact with students, parents, and colleagues” – Charles Martin, Assistant Principal, @MrCharlesMartin

“To be a leader you need to be credible. You gain credibility by showing you have integrity. Don’t share information that shouldn’t be shared and most importantly walk the walk!” – Tim Head, Assistant Head, @MrHeadComputing


“1) Acts with gravitas but confidential, 2) Demonstrates high level of emotional intelligence” – Stuart Maginnis, Principal, @StuartMaginnis


“Integrity – Their actions match their words, quite simply. If something is planned, it is planned sensitively without unrealistic ambition, and every effort is made to make it happen. No promise is made to teachers that cannot be kept – they have enough unpredictability as it is. Manifests most clearly in the extent to which their words are matched by their actions, and the extent to which both are oriented towards providing the most ideal whole school context for good learning” – Jonny Walker, Primary Assistant Head, @JonnyWalker_Edu


“Honest, clear personal values, will take one for the team” – Andrew Cowley, Primary DHT, @andrew_cowley23


Morally upright in beliefs and actions, unshakable, a sincere approach with staff and students, humility” – Mark Adams, Senior Vice Principal, @2Markdavid


“Be professional throughout in all that they do, showing a clear understanding of their responsibilities. They should also possess the self-awareness to seek further guidance and support as and when required” – Damian Weare, Vice Principal, @damianweare46




“Ensuring equality / diversity is recognised in the decisions they are making / day to day practice” – Mary, Special School Headteacher, @Mishwood1


“Earn it and give it. Show respect for others and gain it by doing the best job they can and continuing to learn and grow in the role. Establish and maintain mutual trust across the team” – Jill Berry, Former head, now leadership consultant, @JillBerry102


By being open and embracing of all despite differences” – Kathleen Sorrell, Vice Principal, @Kat_S76


“Respect – even more than this though, we must be explicit in our treatment of each other – purposefully kind, students must know ‘with certainty’ that we care about them (Paul Dix)” – Helena Brothwell, Principal, @educurious2015


“Respect for all. Intrinsic. Respect for every child, every member of our team, every parent and every professional” – Emma Bone, Executive Head and National Leader for Education, @bo_ebone


“Middle leaders must demonstrate this at all times towards pupils and those that they lead. One way of showing this is if there is a difference of opinion to challenge people behind closed doors and not publicly. They must protect the reputation of the people they lead. They must know how to lead with both strength and boldness and a degree of humility, respecting others’ opinions. Working collegially is another way of demonstrating respect” – Anoara Mughal, AHT, @anoara_a

“Treat everyone fairly and be polite and calm” – Caroline Doolan, Assistant Head, @caroline_doolan

“Respect is a two-way street. Middle leaders must gain respect and model respect to all others. Whilst understanding the perspectives and priorities of others, middle leaders must demonstrate the intention to make a positive impact on colleagues, students and the wider community. As such, they should be able to convince others and bring them round to their perspective” – Patrick Ottley-O’Connor, Executive Principal & Leadership Coach, @ottleyoconnor


 “Thank people publically for their efforts, especially when you know they’ve tried hard to make a success of a new project or initiative that you’re involved with” – Roy Souter, Headteacher, @Exe_Head

“As a leader, you will have to present and defend positions and ideas that could be unpopular. It is important to be able to articulate clearly such positions in a respectful and considerate way. I would be looking for people that not only have strong beliefs but that can also articulate and sell them in a way that always shows consideration and respect for others” – Charles Martin, Assistant Principal, @MrCharlesMartin

“Treat everyone the same. It doesn’t matter whether head, cleaner, cook, or caretaker. They are all humans. Treat people how you would like to be treated. This is the same for parents. NEVER EVER patronise” – Tim Head, Assistant Head, @MrHeadComputing


“1) Best leaders command respect with colleagues 2) Good results and ability in classrooms, 3) Walk the Walk, 4) have kindness and humility” – Stuart Maginnis, Principal, @StuartMaginnis


“The middle leader should over time come to recognise the different approaches being taken by other middle and senior leaders, even if these other approaches strike them as wrong-minded, initially. Certain ways of doing things may be better than others, but may not be the most effective way for that particular leader to work; understanding and respecting how others choose to work, in a working culture that allows middle leaders real autonomy, helps leaders to reflect on their own emerging styles. This does not mean there can be no critical interactions, but that these professional dialogues shouldn’t take place in the context of ‘I’m right, they’re wrong’ but, ‘What might they achieve by doing things in this way?’” – Jonny Walker, Primary Assistant Head, @JonnyWalker_Edu


“Knows boundaries with SLT, parents, children” – Andrew Cowley, Primary DHT, @andrew_cowley23


“Genuine admiration for others’ achievements – however big or small they are perceived to be. Willing to give praise openly and in private. Supportive of staff” – Mark Adams, Senior Vice Principal, @2Markdavid


“Be kind and caring, let others know that their thoughts and feelings are important. Inculcate mutual self-respect within the team by demonstrating personal self-respect” – Damian Weare, Vice Principal, @damianweare46


What about you? Do you agree or disagree with these examples? Can you add any other views of interpretations of the 7 leadership behaviours not considered above? Please do add your comments below and discuss on Twitter.


With thanks to all heads and SLT members from various schools and countries who gave their time and effort to contribute to the co-creation of this blog post.


List of contributors

  1. Mary, Special School Headteacher, @Mishwood1
  2. Jill Berry, Former head, now leadership consultant, @JillBerry102
  3. Kathleen Sorrell, Vice Principal, @Kat_S76
  4. Helena Brothwell, Principal, – @educurious2015
  5. Emma Bone, Executive Head and National Leader for Education, @bo_ebone
  6. Anoara Mughal, AHT, @anoara_a
  7. Patrick Ottley-O’Connor, Executive Principal & Leadership Coach, @ottleyoconnor
  8. Roy Souter, Headteacher, @Exe_Head
  9. Charles Martin, Assistant Principal, @MrCharlesMartin
  10. Tim Head, Assistant Head, @MrHeadComputing
  11. Stuart Maginnis, Principal, @StuartMaginnis
  12. Jonny Walker, Primary Assistant Head, @JonnyWalker_Edu
  13. Andrew Cowley, Primary DHT, @andrew_cowley23
  14. Mark Adams, Senior Vice Principal, @2Markdavid
  15. Damian Weare, Vice Principal, @damianweare46
  16. Caroline Doolan, Assistant Head, @caroline_doolan
  17. Ritesh Patel, SLE, @Mr_Patel100

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