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The First Nineteen Lessons of Headship

Based on experience and observation, here are the first nineteen lessons that any new head learns.

      1. 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. You are immediately more influential than you imagine — your smile (or lack of one) can alter the mood of the entire building.
      9. Just because you say something doesn’t mean they heard it.
      10. Some staff do very silly things.
      11. Just when you think the adults know how to behave to each other then, when you’re not watching, they don’t.
      12. A good head makes things happen but a good deputy makes sure things happen.
      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.

At the end of the day, nothing really prepares you for headship better than headship.

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

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About the author

Ian Gilbert

Ian is an award-winning writer, editor, speaker, innovator and the founder of Independent Thinking. He has lived and worked in Europe, the Middle East, South America and Asia and is privileged to have such a global view of education and education systems.

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