Having been recruited to facilitate a leadership and development training event for a new team of senior leaders, I can’t wait for this week to get started.
The school board have booked a great venue and I am pleased when the ‘Sat Nav’ guides me uneventfully to the hotel car park. The conference room is at a plush golf hotel and I half expect Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy to pop out from behind a golf buggy on their way to the first tee. My clubs are in the back of the car but I have a feeling that I will be too busy for them to see the light of day.
The conference room is in a great position overlooking the golf course and the staff are very helpful as I figure out the audio visuals. I ask for a second flip-chart and the conference suite manager, Aisher, obliges. I help myself to coffee and settle down to read through my notes.
I half expect Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy to pop out from behind a golf buggy on their way to the first tee!
I begin the training by introducing the Head Teacher who sets the scene beautifully. He talks about the vision, the values and the key priorities for the year ahead. It’s an inspiring start and I can see that the team are all on board.
I show a couple of tacky video clips and make a couple of tenuous points before we get stuck into the task at hand. I’ve split the two days into three sections: ‘leading the vision’; ‘leading together’ and ‘managing performance’. It’s a simple structure but we have a lot of ground to cover.
We explore each of the key priorities in depth and I make sure that the school values remain uppermost in the minds of the group as we work. The Head Teacher has made it clear that all of our work should be framed around the five school values and I have built this into the activities throughout.
The team work really hard and they are suitably rewarded with some sweet pastries and a stunning lunch.
The delegates complete some peer action planning and hold the team’s first proper meeting, which I observe in preparation for Day 2. We finish at about 6pm and retire to our rooms before dinner.
Kindly, I have been invited to join the team for dinner and I accept. I make the decision pretty early on in the evening that I will take myself off to bed at the first opportunity. This is their evening to bond and develop as a team and I don’t want to get in the way of that.
Representatives from the school board arrive early on Day 2 to address the team and to welcome the new staff. We re-cap all that we have covered on Day 1 and then turn our attention to ‘leading collaboratively’. We discuss effective meetings and collaboration and I present some ideas from the texts that I have read.
I feedback my observations from the meeting on Day 1 and put them through their paces with a strict one hour meeting which has one very clear goal. I nominate one of the group to lead this meeting and coach them as the hour progresses. They are surprised when they complete the task, well within the allocated time, and I reward them by letting them break early for coffee.
The final session is a tough grind. The team are tired and there is still some vital work to do. We discuss leading staff and holding challenging conversations. I role-play typical scenarios with the Head Teacher and the team are surprised by the level of attention to detail and planning that goes into these types of conversations. We briefly touch on coaching and co-acting styles before breaking for the final time for afternoon tea.
We end the day by uploading the action plans from Day 1 onto the school development plan before saying our farewells.
I receive some e-mails later that evening and again the following morning saying how valuable and productive the two days had been, which is extremely rewarding. I send a brief message to the board, leaving them in no doubt that they have a thoroughly professional and capable team of people leading their school.
Later in the week, I visit a boys’ school in Salisbury, Hampshire. The Head Teacher is a friend of an ex-colleague and he welcomes me warmly. After a brief conversation in his office, he takes me on a tour of the site and we visit a few classrooms. We make some plans to work together in September and I head off with a copy of the development plan to read and some proposals to make.
I look forward to the weekend and ‘just visiting’ some more schools next week.
Hopefully, I’ll be invited to come and visit yours. #justvisiting