An alphabet for leadership learning

Posted on 7th May 2019 in Boarding

Tracy Shand presents an A to Z for boarding school staff


No two days are the same in boarding schools, so adapting to change is crucial. Have you ever had those days that look nothing like your original plan? Take time to ensure that you have a plan B, especially during report writing time when you know that crises will happen.


Did you know that only 7% of your message is conveyed through words? When you work in another country, it can feel a lot less than that. The right body language makes things much easier, especially when you haven’t got a clue what people are saying!


The world of education is made up of many teams. From catering to SLT, cooperation is key. With a missing link at any stage, your community will not run smoothly. What one step can you take to improve the teamwork on your front line?


You are not going to get on with everybody, but it is important to show a united front and consider cultural differences. Be kind and respectful to each other.


Life can be hard for everyone in your community. Put yourself in their shoes, what one thing do they need? Take time to connect.


Each person has different needs. What one step can you take to make a difference to the life of someone else?


Embrace the power of ‘thank you’. It costs you absolutely nothing and yet it makes a huge difference to how you are understood and remembered by people.


Honesty is always the best policy - just be careful how you phrase it!


From the catering and domestic staff to the head teacher, successful boarding means positive interactions. Acknowledge everyone if you can - with a wave or a smile if you don’t have time to chat. And get to know people outside your normal professional circle.


In our multicultural communities, cultural awareness is key. Keep an open mind – think before you act. Some of your pupils may show very little on the surface and that may mean that they need you to watch more carefully.


Perform a random act of kindness – enough said.


Active listening is crucial. Listen without interruption to what is being said and what is not being said. Can you remember the last time that someone really listened to you? How did it feel? Pay it back to someone in your team.


We all have skills to offer, so share your wisdom. Help new staff or boarders or become a volunteer mentor outside work.


Look for a win-win situation when problems arise. Step back and apply De Bono’s PNI thinking strategy. For any situation, what is Positive, Negative and Interesting?


According to Jim Rohn ‘you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with’, so carry a positive attitude.


In today’s world, you need to be able to do more with less. Budgets are tight, both for schools and parents. Think outside the box or go back to basics.


What if? What else? The answers to these will empower you and your boarding community. And answer me this - what question do you not want me to ask you right now?


You are responsible for your actions, and there’s another R to consider as well - Resilience. Get to know yourself and the skills you need to bounce back should things go wrong.


To lead others effectively, you need to be able to lead yourself first. What are your strengths, weaknesses and what do you really want?


The essence of your community. Are you a team player?


A little understanding goes a long way. We all see, read and hear things differently. Identify the preferred communication styles of the members of your team.


Know your value. Are you the ‘go to person’ for something? What do you bring to your school? How can you add value to your personal life and career?


Are you prepared to go the extra mile?


What unique quality do you have ?


Are you getting enough sleep? If you are having problems sleeping, make sure you download your day in a journal and have a bedtime routine that works for you.

What would your alphabet look like for this school year?

Tracy Shand is the CEO of Simply Boarding