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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Leadership Styles

Goleman(2002) in his book "The New Leaders" talks about six fundamentally different leaders. Four of them are positive (visionary, affiliative, democratic and coaching) and two others which can be harmful to an organisation.

I found the reading to be fascinating. Having worked in a variety of independent schools (co-ed and single sex) over the breadth of my career it was interesting to read a description of a leader and think "I know someone like that".

David Loader was the Visionary Leader. I worked at MLC for three years towards the end of "The Loader Years" and it was great. There was a lot of talk about where the school was going, there was a culture of learning and he was confident enough to be able to say "yes" to an initiative that he felt was worthwhile. I suspect that other leaders might have been too democratic and demanded a committee to evaluate proposals, but David would approve something on the spot. This has a positive effect on staff and the wave of enthusiasm, that often encompasses innovation, would continue. I still make reference to many of the documents that I contribute to during my time at MLC.

Susan Danckert, former Principal at Academy of Mary Immaculate, was a Democratic Leader. She was skilled in involving her staff in decision making, even if the reality was that she made the decision earlier. She had a system where she would lunch in the staff workroom once a week. She wouldn't say much, just listen to the issues at hand. This informal way of gaining feedback often resulted in things being done differently or processes being improved.

Dr Timothy Hawkes, former Principal of St. Leonard's College was an excellent example of a coaching Leader.  In my second year of teaching I had a short term contract at St. Leonard's. Dr. Hawkes was all about improvement. Every morning was a staff briefing. He didn't regurgitate what was on the briefing sheet but he talked about how we could improve student learning, whether it was for a student who was having difficulty or a year level that we had to focus on. Dr. Hawkes taught Year 8 RE, and this gave him operational knowledge to make changes. He was all about developing others and reading through his newsletters gave you this sense of "coaching".

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