Leading leaders lead23rd April 2021
It really isn’t my place, through these missives, to be overtly or overly political. Sometimes it’s hard not to look at what’s happening in the world, in particular when we consider politicians and politics, and not be tempted to put out a personal position. However, there have been occasions when I’ve been known to have a significant private ‘chunter’. In the autumn of 2020 there were too many occasions when we were being asked in education to do things too quickly, without consultation and without the appropriate checks and balances, which one might expect as a consequence of policy being driven down from central government. I’m pleased to say, things have calmed somewhat in the recent weeks and months; long may that continue. I have also on occasions been moved to make comments about the political leadership in the United States of America. The previous presidential incumbent conducted himself in such a way that it was always tempting and incredibly difficult not to take issue with positions or statements he was taking/making. All that brings me to a broad thought about strong, stable and principled leadership.
Let me start with the United States of America. I know that President Joe Biden will have his detractors. I am guessing that many of us might view him and think that he cannot be in the presidential game for the long term. However, the marked change in presidential behaviours is particularly pleasing to see from the side of the Atlantic. There have been some significant, challenging and emotive issues played out in the States of the last couple of weeks; in particular the court trial of Derek Chauvin, for the murder of George Floyd. The marked difference in approach that President Biden has taken, in the lead up to the jury considering their verdict and subsequently since the findings of guilty on all counts, has been in stark contrast to the way that President Trump behaved over his presidential term, particularly when there were potentially times of racial tension. President Biden seems to take a principled, honest and humane approach to the statements he makes. As is often discussed the President of the United States needs to act as the moral guardian or mourner-in-chief for that country. President Biden seems intent on being something of a thoughtful and unifying father figure for the country. The reactions to the convictions this week across the States has shown how Biden’s leadership, when rooted in a calm sense of moral leadership, can have a positive impact upon communities.
In addition, President Biden this week hosted a global conference on the environment. It would be relatively easy for an elderly president, who is likely to only serve one term (by choice) to take short-term political decisions, which are focused on domestic and electoral gain in one’s own country. However, President Biden seems to be taking a more strategic long-term view of environmental change. Although the pronouncements of yesterday did not change the world they are a start in changing the tone and dialogue of our major polluting economies. It takes a leader of some real conviction to think not just beyond their term but, as is clear in this case, beyond their lifetime.
Across Inspire Trust and your trust schools and college you can be reassured that all of your leaders, whatever status, role or experience they have got, endeavour to take positions and decisions rooted by a morality and integrity and with a longer-term vision. Throughout the whole of the pandemic crisis, we have worked to ensure that all pupils, students, parents and staff feel and understand that they are supported in the here and now. And yet, we have always had an eye on the future and have endeavoured to shape a strategy which will allow the individual institutions to come out of the COVID crisis stronger, not weaker. To stand still is to be overtaken; usually by events but invariably by others. In all of our decision making, despite some of the pressures that we have been under, we have been mindful of the short-term impact whilst considering the long-term effect on our educational community. I want to take the opportunity to publicly thank all of those who have worked as leaders and all have shown leadership (you don’t need a title to be a leader or show leadership) over the past 18 months or so. I wholeheartedly believe that we have a culture across our schools and college which promotes strong leadership and supports strong leaders. We invest in time to develop leadership and ensure that those staff who have responsibilities for others understand that they operate in a supportive and challenging culture. We might not always get it right but it will never be for the want of trying. Perfection doesn’t come from not doing. We have to try, we have to demand of each other and we may have to fail to move forward.
As I’ve written before; you don’t affect real change until you change the culture. I am increasingly confident that the established culture within our schools and college is such that all of our leaders understand their roles and responsibilities and work professionally, passionately and effectively to deliver the very best conditions, which in turn allow for all our children and young people to be as successful as they possibly can be.
‘The right way is not always the popular and easy way. Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character’. Margaret Chase Smith
‘Goodness is about character – integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people’. Dennis Prager
It is reassuring to note that the leadership behaviours we exhibit on a daily basis seem now to be more prevalent at a national level (within the UK) and possibly across the ‘pond’.
It looks like the sun will be shining this weekend. Enjoy your ‘rule of 6’ outdoor events.