Leading without a title

It’s a funny thing, going from huge responsibility for the running of the school to…nothing. After planning my lessons, marking my books, and printing my resources, I simply…go home. At breaks and lunchtimes I sit and eat my lunch, have a chat, surreptitiously check the BBC news website. It’s liberating, it’s relaxing, it’s peaceful, calming and it’s stress free. It’s weird.

I find it nigh on impossible to focus solely on one thing – when lesson planning, surely I should also be writing a document on last term’s attendance for the Governors, whilst simultaneously having a phone conversation with another senior leader about end of term arrangements, before suddenly remembering I’m on break duty in 2 minutes, and need a wee first?

In my more self-flagellatory moments, I wonder if I’ve destroyed my career for good. Surely no-one will want to employ an ex-golden girl, fallen spectacularly from grace, unable to cope with what everyone else seems to manage flawlessly – combining a new family with working life? Who wants a leader that can’t lead her own life?

I am buoyed by the connections I have made through twitter – the empowering roar of WomenEd and the MTPT Project. The knowledge and experience, backed up by infallible evidence, of countless leaders before me, that it can happen, you can have it all, and it will work! The reassurance of shared views and values through #SLTChat and #NewToSLTChat reinvigorate me. My transformative coaching sessions help me recognise my achievements, and forge a new pathway. I am re-assessing what it means to be a ‘strong’ leader, and owning my vulnerability.

At work, I find that although my official responsibilities have gone, the skills and attributes of leadership remain, and I discover to my surprise that more colleagues than ever approach me for advice. Not having a formal title clearly seems to make me far more approachable for informal advice. Taking a step back, rather than being in the thick of the action, enables me to see the broader issues, and excitingly, think of creative solutions.

Having the space and time to reflect on myself as a leader feels extremely indulgent, and strangely free-ing, after the sheer busyness of having every second accounted for – even down to scheduling time for a wee! I feel much more in tune with myself, my emotions, and as a result I can more clearly and confidently articulate what my strengths are, and where and how I need help. I love having the time to lift others up, providing much needed optimism and joy wherever I can. I now look forward to forging my new pathway in leadership, and I know I don’t need a title to do this.

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