10 Tips for Incoming Heads
The skillset that gets you into headship isn’t the one you really need in the job.
Before you start life as a headteacher it is all about persuasion and potential; afterwards it is all about performance-turning ideas into action. New heads need to keep their focus on the changes they want to make, while handling everything else they must deal with.
1. Identify and pursue the essential. If you aim at everything you might hit something or nothing.
2. Hire who you need when you can. The people you inherit might not be the ones you need to move the school forward.
3. Have an open door, but a private office. See as many people as you can. Make sure you have effective time management, you get quality information quickly when you need it, you keep important stakeholders in view, you are discreet and you are seen to balance transparency and confidentiality.
4. Create the structures you need to lead effectively. Make sure the systems work and the key functions of school actually happen as you want them to.
5. Be strategic in hiring and promoting staff. Senior staff can make or break a Head, so balance skills with shared vision and their ability to collaborate.
6. Concentrate on delivery. Manage and monitor the activities that create positive results. Use a simple performance management approach so everyone knows what they are responsible for delivering and how it will be measured.
7. Balance goals. Temper long-term improvement with short term, easy to see successes.
8. Communicate a narrative. One that fits into but still challenges the status quo.
9. Be visible but not ineffective. Allocate enough time to be seen by the school and to see the school without wasting your time or anyone else's.
10. Heads lead, Boards govern. The Head and Board should work as members of the same team with this relationship clearly defined. The ability of one limits the success of the other.