Consistency is key within SLT
The most important components to the success of each and every school and college (and indeed to the success of every business) is to be found within the members of the Senior Leadership Team. Each member of this key team needs to be impactful and effective, and be capable of evidencing a consistency of performance and ambition for their school.
A senior leadership team can come in all forms, and consist of colleagues with a variety of roles and responsibilities; and there is certainly not one single structure that should be replicated from one school/college to the next. In my experience, rather than a focus on structure or defined roles, the most effective leaders create leadership teams which have consistent and shared values – and it is this shared and consistent ambition that is pivotal to the success of their college or school.
In every team – but it is particularly true in senior teams – it is a key requirement that every member of the team should have clarity about their own role and its expectations, alongside a clarity about how that role can contribute to the overarching vision and ambitions of their school/college. The analogy with an orchestra is often used but is still a good one – if one player or one section in an orchestra of sixty or so is not performing well or is playing out of time, then the results are immediately obvious and the performance suffers. But if one player in a smaller group – say a quartet or quintet – is not contributing to the success of a performance piece, then the results are almost always catastrophic; and rather than just reflecting badly on the one poor performer, actually reflect badly on the performance of the group as a whole, including the contributions of those colleagues who might have played exceptionally throughout the piece.
Creating a consistently high performing and high-quality team with colleagues who have different skills, a variety of roles, and perhaps a range of motivations, is not an easy one. But if the main shared value within any school or college is that ‘the students’ needs come first’ then I believe that consistency of performance within the leadership team will inevitably follow.
Nonetheless, people-centred organisations are complex ones. Leaders and managers come with a range of experiences, attitudes, talents and motivations. They come to work with different challenges in their personal lives, with different personal ambitions, with different habits they have picked up under previous leaders they have worked with, and with different ways of interacting with other colleagues.
SLT’s have to find ways to overcome these complexities so that their focus is consistently upon the young people they serve and overarching success of their school.
From my own experience at Alps and elsewhere working with SLT’s from across the globe, the most effective in achieving consistent performance share similar qualities:
- There is a shared commitment across the SLT and whilst members of the team might have specialisms in different areas, no one elevates themselves above the others.
- Their individual roles are clear and the ways that they report the progress they are making to the rest of the team are consistent.
- There is an expectation of positive and rigorous challenge.
- The mission of the organisation and its values are important and shared across all members of the team.
- They understand the importance of their own role in ensuring that the vision is fulfilled.
- Their shared sense of purpose ensures that the right decisions are made for the right reasons – the needs of their young people.
Partnership Director – Alps
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