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The First 19 Lessons of Headship

Nothing prepares you for headship other than headship.

Based on our experience and observations, these are the first nineteen lessons that any new head learns.

And learns quickly.

  1. Essentially, leadership is the process of making it up as you go along and dealing with what happens next.

  2. Establishing a vision is important, not losing sight of it more so.

  3. Impose values, not rules.

  4. At the end of every inclusive, distributed and consultative process someone needs to make a decision and that person is you.

  5. ‘I’m sure they mixed the letters up’ - Imposter syndrome is a thing so you have to learn how to handle it

  6. ‘Is it me? It must be? It’s me isn’t it?’ - No, it's not you. It's them!

  7. It’s really lonely at the top.

  8. A good head makes things happen but a good deputy makes sure things happen.

  9. You are immediately more influential than you imagine - your smile (or lack of one) can alter the mood in the entire building
  10. Just because you say something, doesn't mean they heard it

  11. Some staff do very silly things

  12. Just when you think the adults know how to behave to each other, when you're not watching, they don't.

  13. The gap between deputy and headship is a massive leap compared to step up from middle management to deputy.

  14. You not only have less time for bullshit, you can smell it at greater distances now.

  15. You better understand your troublesome kids when you meet their parents.

  16. Only other heads understand what you’re going through.

  17. You really appreciate praise and it often comes when you least expect it.

  18. Every day there is something that can only be filed under 'weird shit’!

  19. There isn’t a day that cannot be improved by a glass of Prosecco.

If you're a new head and any of this sounds familiar be reassured, you're not alone. Honest. [ITL]

Ian Gilbert is the founder of Independent Thinking. Check out more of his writing at his Independent Thinking Press page here.


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