Questioning my leadership
Good questions inform. Great questions transform.
I have been reflecting on the use of questions in my leadership, more specifically my relationships with middle leaders. Questions are critical when developing and deepening a coaching conversation with colleagues. I am mindful that with experience, it can be all to easy / intoxicating to share the benefits of that experience with your colleagues. However, in doing so, you miss an opportunity to encourage deeper thinking in your colleagues and honing your own coaching ability. Ironically it hurts your both.
I also have been questioning myself. My personal values. The leader I aim to be. Understanding why I hold the opinions that I do. Seeking out challenging or opposing viewpoints, pursuing professional dialogue and wider reading.
As a man in my twenties, I lacked the self-awareness to consider or even identify my limitations. I have two former school leaders to thank for setting me off on my personal journey. Thank you Ian for the continued coaching and extended friendship. Thank you Gerry for organising my first coaching appointment with Maureen Bowes. Writing the occasional self-awareness or leadership post certainly helps clarify my own personal thinking. Car pooling with two trusted senior leaders rarely fails to leave it’s mark. A fantastically honest and patient wife is not taken for granted. Now more than ever, I see value on developing one’s self awareness. As far as self awareness goes, I do not see there being a destination.
We grow too soon old, and too late wise.
Questions then, are clearly, the starting point to become aware. Feedback, in what ever form it takes (360, one-to-one, coaching, solicited) has the potential to reveal those personal blind spots.
For any school leader, any teacher, The Future Leaders Trust Competencies Framework offers a useful definition for self awareness. How would you evidence each sub-component?
Aware of one’s personal strengths and areas for future growth and understands how own behaviour impacts on others.
Being aware of one’s own emotional triggers and identifying ways to manage these more effectively.
Taking ownership for what one can do and sharing out responsibilities when others are better placed to accomplish particular tasks or objectives.
Incidentally, I am still hung up on questions in my teaching too. IMHO questions are an important much undervalued teaching tool. I set myself the challenge of preparing one key question in every lesson. Of course, this is made more interesting by the fact I am teaching Maths for the first time in my career. Checkpoint or hinge questions and Plickers are proving a critical pause in our Maths lessons and direct our next steps.