School team: The manager as a team leader by Patritsia Andrioti
Published in e-newsletter hyphen in April 2006
The staff team, as you already know, is the most important resource in a school setting, and, of course, it is vital that this team works together for the manager (and the school) to function effectively.
All hyphen executive club members already know (through extensive repetition from our side!) that a school manager needs a clear vision, a vision about education in general and a vision about the mission and purpose of their school; and that this vision should be a more or less clearly defined one for the manager to share with the team. It is through the team’s support of this vision that everyone will be working towards the same end. In addition, it is important for the team to share the same principles. The manager’s role is to make sure everyone knows what they are aiming for, what the expectations are, and what the standard practice is.
However set the practices are, one cannot overlook that work in a school involves people, and that people are not at all the same. A manager should also be able, therefore, to recognize these differences and any individual staff members’ methods of work. This will enable you to clearly define strengths and weakness of your staff and reassess their role in the team. In order to do this you need to involve your staff more through regular staff meetings. Managers should make every member of the team feel valued through discussing and evaluating everyone’s ideas and opinions, and making everyone feel appreciated. Staff need to know that their efforts make a difference to achieving common goals. Recognise all contributions, celebrate your team and do not wait for a special reason to praise them (every day’s hard work needs praising!). You might also think about establishing an appraisal system as a way of consolidating your staff’s strengths and weaknesses, and planning how to best support them.
Remember that successful teams develop and succeed through mutual trust. As a manager it is you that will determine the ethos of your school setting and you will often influence the attitudes of your staff. Motivation, delegation and development are key features of managing a team. Successful managers are able to acknowledge all contributions made by staff members in order to create a successful and cohesive team. In order to motivate our school’s team on a daily basis so that they achieve their goals & targets effectively, as a manager you should use negotiation skills to e.g: show the staff the impact that they have on others by their action (going sick at short notice), the importance of getting involved in all aspects of the school’s life, the importance of balancing out individual needs with school’s needs (staying late sometimes), the benefit of contributing with their opinions (about a work-practice issue, training etc).
Motivating one’s staff is not an easy procedure. The most effective way has been proven to be individualizing your staff’s needs for development, coaching and support and offering it at every occasion. Encourage your staff to develop their own initiative and be there for them whenever they need your support. It is important to delegate appropriately so that you give everyone opportunities to develop and have a sense of achievement.
Last but not least, remember that a manager leads by example! This requires you to continually develop yourself, take responsibility of your decisions and your errors, and share responsibility with the rest of the staff. You are a role model in your school and to this role you should be up to.
Adair, J. (1997) Effective Leadeship Masterclass, Pan.
Drucker, P. (1999) Management Challenges for the 21st century, Butterworth Heinemann
Heller, R. (1998) Managing Change, Dorling Kindersley
Pettinger, R. (2002) Introduction to Management (3rd Ed.), Palgrave Macmillan