A guest post by @
Stepping into a new school leadership role can feel a bit like stepping into the middle of a hurricane. You’ve got so many things being thrown at you, new and old, and it’s often not long before that voice in your head starts to whisper…
“I’m terrible at this job. The old Head was so much better than me. Any day now they’re going to find me out.”
It’s enough to paralyse you! If you don’t actively work on trusting in your own abilities and eliminating self-doubt, it will have a huge impact on how you occupy your role — and it will rob you of the confidence you need to lead.
So what can you do?
1. Look backwards.
When you’re in the middle of starting a new role, it can feel impossible to keep a handle on the present, much less look at your past. But revisiting old victories can help you remember how you got to where you are now. So look back at your career to date and how you’ve moved through it. What were the defining moments, the times when you had to show courage and take risks?
What can you learn from these moments; when did you show courage, resilience and optimism? Remember to consider these questions both in the context of your current role and in your life outside of it. You’re a person in a role, not the role itself, and you can often learn a lot about yourself by reflecting on how you show up both in and outside of the school leadership role.
2. Look around you.
Similarly, look to the people around you to reflect on how they see you as a leader. What qualities do you have that draw people to you; what feedback have people working under you given you? How about the people who hired you? They saw potential in you, and that potential is still there, even if at times, when the stress levels are high, you feel as though you have lost something of yourself.
Tests can also be a great resource for understanding your potential and yourself as a leader. If you haven’t already, consider taking some psychometric tests to get a sense of yourself and your leadership style. Looking at these objective measurements can be a great antidote to self-doubt.
3. Look inside.
Most importantly, you’ve got to learn to look inside yourself and listen to your intuition. So many Heads get so caught up in rushing around that they never pay attention to their gut instinct — but as I can tell you from experience, ignore it at your peril!
If tuning into your intuition sounds a bit airy fairy to you, then think of the most naturally inspiring school leaders you know. The ones who just seems to know what to do. They are calm and collected under pressure and possess an inner knowing, an inner wisdom. Their strength comes not from their status as Head teacher, but from their own inner moral compass. They are the ones who have learnt to trust their own inner voice. They’re the ones that know how to listen to their intuition, so if you want to develop those characteristics in yourself, you need to learn to do so too.
It’s as simple as taking time to breathe. When something comes up that you’re not sure about, stop, don’t react. Take five minutes just to sit with it and breathe. Ask yourself, “What should I do?” and wait for the answer, and trust your voice when it comes! If you have become used to listening to the voice of others over and above your own, it may take a little while to discover what your own true voice sounds like but stick with it. It will be worth it, when you discover the freedom and self confidence that arises from being able to dance to your own tune and not someone else’s.
Believe me, I know it’s hard. It can seem like a Herculean task when you are at your lowest ebb. But facing your self doubt and cultivating your own inner practice, is necessary for growth — and it’s how you become that highest, most confident version of yourself. And it is how you learn to serve your staff and your school to the best of your abilities.
Are you a school leader who’s tired of trying to go it alone? We’re here to help! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0208 767 7664 to set up a short, no strings conversation.
Viv is the director of Integrity Coaching and author of Staying A Head.
This post was first published on Integrity Coaching’s blog and is reproduced here by kind permission of the author.