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1 Being and Becoming a Highly

Effective Team Leader


Only those who have fully found themselves in this world can realise their natures.
Only those who realise their natures can lead other natures to self-realization. Only
those who lead other natures to self-realisation can realize the nature of things.
(Tzu-Ssu, a grandson of Confucius)
INTRODUCTION
Tzu-Ssus wise words about self-knowledge and self-realization may seem a
little divorced from the reality of school life when you are trying to deal with
next years timetable; decit budgets; yet more changes to the syllabus; boys
underperformance; and the underperformance of a colleague. Yet, at the heart
of this chapter, and indeed the book, is the need for each of us as team leaders
to understand the intimate relationship between knowing, understanding and
developing ourselves and knowing, understanding and developing our team
members. This chapter provides guidance to aspiring and existing team
leaders by responding to the following questions:
What is the key to effective team leadership?
How do I become a highly effective team leader?
What about the constraints, demands and choices associated with my
team leadership role?
What are the characteristics of highly effective leaders?
How can I gauge my personal effectiveness as a team leader?
How can I gauge my competence as a team leader?
What is meant by leadership style? How important is this in leading a
team?
How can I help to improve the quality of what we do and achieve as a
team?
WHAT IS THE KEY TO EFFECTIVE TEAM LEADERSHIP?
Effective team leadership relies upon mastering a wide assortment of skills;
skills ranging from implementing policies and organizing procedures to
motivating staff to achieve high standards. The aim of team leadership is to
assist members of the team to achieve their personal best. To achieve this, team
leaders have to:
( set high, but realistic, performance objectives, not only for themselves, but
also for team colleagues;
( nd ways to improve existing practices and policies; and
( meet and, better still, exceed current standards of learning, teaching, and
pupil achievement.
It is this latter point that provides the focus and rationale for the team leaders
role. However, before team leaders and their teams can achieve their goals, it
is important that they are clear about expectations relating to how things might
be done and the standards of performance that need to be reached, for
example, through the schools improvement plan. Communicating these
expectations to others is an important next step. In this way, team leaders can
also demonstrate their commitment to the key task of improving quality.
Maintaining and improving existing standards is, of course, an ongoing
process that requires team leaders to impress upon their team the importance
of analysing the problem areas they encounter and of working together to nd
solutions. Involving staff in this way helps not only to generate fresh ideas but
also to create a climate of participation and increased motivation.
Point for reection
How do you currently involve your team in looking for ways to improve standards,
practices, processes and performance? Which methods have you found to be most
successful?
HOW DO I BECOME A HIGHLY EFFECTIVE TEAM LEADER?
Highly effective leadership, particularly in the role of team leader, is of crucial
importance to the success of any school. How you perform now, and how you
might perform in the future, often depends on career experiences and on
opportunities for reecting on these experiences. How you are perceived as a
team leader will affect the attitude and performance of those both above and
below you. Because team leaders do not work in isolation, they have to
display a complex mix of different styles, qualities and attitudes to be effective.
These important skills and qualities are likely to derive from your perceptions
of the effectiveness of team leaders that you have worked with and the values
that underpin your approach.
Point for reection
Think of a team leader you know who, in your view, is ineffective in the role.
Suggest reasons why she or he fails to provide adequate leadership. Now, think of
a team leader who you consider is effective. Why do you consider him or her to be
successful?
To be highly effective as team leaders we need to know something about
ourselves. In doing so, we expand the range of behaviours upon which we can
2 MANAGEMENT SKILLS IN SCHOOLS
Table 1.1 A model of management competence (based on Boydell, 1985)
Level Characteristics
Level one Manager as
technician
( focuses on performing standard routines and procedures
( places great store on responding to things correctly
Level two Manager as
professional
( develops a personal style of doing things
( accumulates personal knowledge
( builds systems of knowledge rather than collections of
unrelated facts
( synthesizes ideas
( chooses effectively from alternative courses of action
( does not rely on standard, correct, pre-determined solutions
( monitors own decisions
( develops increasing levels of self-awareness
( learns consciously from experience
( makes personal sense out of what is happening
( generates creative ideas
( looks at old problems in a new way
Level three Manager as
artist
( fully understands what it means to be a manager/leader
( understands and displays personal standards and values
( fully understands how the work ts with all other aspects of
personal and professional life
draw in different situations. Several models exist that help us to understand
our own development. For example, Boydell (1985) proposes a model of
management competence that has three levels (Table 1.1).
The usefulness of Boydells model in helping you analyse the development
you are now undertaking as a leader, is that it provides a perception of where
you might be heading so that ultimately you have a fuller insight of what it
means to you personally to be a highly effective team leader. This self-
development is the product of making sense of your own experiences and
dealing with challenges as they impinge upon your professional and personal
life. In effect, self-development is about change of self, by self (Figure 1.1)
itself a form of learning. Pedler, Burgoyne and Boydell (1986) refer to this as
managing ME:
Managing ME is the rst step for the self-developer unless I take charge of
myself, how can I take charge of situations; unless I create order in myself how
can I contribute to creating order with others? Managing ME rst is the key
of self-empowerment and the empowerment of others.
Leaders and managers who are comfortable operating at a technician level,
focusing on routine administrative tasks, often lack the condence to deal with
outcomes that are unpredictable or vague. A major dimension of effective
leadership is having enough condence in yourself and in your ability to
respond appropriately in given circumstances. Ultimately, of course, this
entails knowing yourself, your strengths and weaknesses and learning from
the everyday experiences presented to you in the role. For Boydell (1985),
self-development involves personal change:
BEING AND BECOMING A HIGHLY EFFECTIVE TEAM LEADER 3
Table 1.1 A model of management competence (based on Boydell, 1985)
Level Characteristics
Level one Manager as
technician
( focuses on performing standard routines and procedures
( places great store on responding to things correctly
Level two Manager as
professional
( develops a personal style of doing things
( accumulates personal knowledge
( builds systems of knowledge rather than collections of
unrelated facts
( synthesizes ideas
( chooses effectively from alternative courses of action
( does not rely on standard, correct, pre-determined solutions
( monitors own decisions
( develops increasing levels of self-awareness
( learns consciously from experience
( makes personal sense out of what is happening
( generates creative ideas
( looks at old problems in a new way
Level three Manager as
artist
( fully understands what it means to be a manager/leader
( understands and displays personal standards and values
( fully understands how the work ts with all other aspects of
personal and professional life
draw in different situations. Several models exist that help us to understand
our own development. For example, Boydell (1985) proposes a model of
management competence that has three levels (Table 1.1).
The usefulness of Boydells model in helping you analyse the development
you are now undertaking as a leader, is that it provides a perception of where
you might be heading so that ultimately you have a fuller insight of what it
means to you personally to be a highly effective team leader. This self-
development is the product of making sense of your own experiences and
dealing with challenges as they impinge upon your professional and personal
life. In effect, self-development is about change of self, by self (Figure 1.1)
itself a form of learning. Pedler, Burgoyne and Boydell (1986) refer to this as
managing ME:
Managing ME is the rst step for the self-developer unless I take charge of
myself, how can I take charge of situations; unless I create order in myself how
can I contribute to creating order with others? Managing ME rst is the key
of self-empowerment and the empowerment of others.
Leaders and managers who are comfortable operating at a technician level,
focusing on routine administrative tasks, often lack the condence to deal with
outcomes that are unpredictable or vague. A major dimension of effective
leadership is having enough condence in yourself and in your ability to
respond appropriately in given circumstances. Ultimately, of course, this
entails knowing yourself, your strengths and weaknesses and learning from
the everyday experiences presented to you in the role. For Boydell (1985),
self-development involves personal change:
BEING AND BECOMING A HIGHLY EFFECTIVE TEAM LEADER 3
Figure 1.1 Self-development is about change of self by self
it is not just about improving, rening and adding to what you have already,
but about moving out of comfort zones, expanding your personal limits and
aiming for peak performance. It involves changes in thinking, feeling and
willing . . .
Point for reection
Having considered Boydells three-level model of competence, where would you
locate your existing competence level as a leader and manager? Which areas lend
themselves to further improvement? What development opportunities might be
most helpful for you to seek to bring about these improvements?
WHAT ABOUT THE CONSTRAINTS, DEMANDS AND CHOICES
ASSOCIATED WITH MY TEAM LEADERSHIP ROLE?
Anyone with leadership and management responsibilities in schools is faced
with choices, demands and constraints in relation to their role. Performing a
role as important as team leader is dependent on a set of separate, but
interacting, inuences:
( personal characteristics, e.g. personality, skills, motivation;
( self-presentation, e.g. visibility, prole, role modelling;
( self-organization, e.g. time management, stress management, selecting
priorities;
( self-development, e.g. reection, career aspirations, development oppor-
tunities; and
( situational characteristics, e.g. school context, team maturity, length of
experience.
4 MANAGEMENT SKILLS IN SCHOOLS
Table 1.2 Team leaders experiences of their role
Role Experience
Role ambiguity In this situation, teamleaders believe that there is insufcient information
available describing their role. The result is a lack of clarity about the
precise nature of the role, e.g. the parameters of the role are ill-dened
leading to duplication of effort or important functions not being carried
out.
Role conict Here, the team leader may be uncomfortable with particular role
requirements, e.g. a pastoral team leader whose views on school uniform
are quite relaxed having to enforce the schools rule that students should
be in uniform on school trips.
Role overload Team leaders, in these circumstances, feel unable to full the range of
expected roles because of sheer work overload. Team leaders are often
required to take on additional tasks brought on by, say, increased
legislation but nd that few if any tasks are removed to make way for
them.
Role underload This occurs when team leaders expectations of the role exceed those of
the organization, e.g. assistant team leaders being given routine
administrative tasks.
Point for reection
This is an opportunity for you to analyse your own performance as a team leader in
the light of the constraints, demands and choices associated with your leadership
role.
( Identify constraints on you in your team leadership role (they may derive from
resource considerations; national, local or school policy; peoples attitudes; time;
etc.).
( Identify demands on you as a team leader (they may derive from national, local
or school policies; the extent and nature of your responsibilities; the types of
relationship you have with colleagues; etc.).
( Now list some choices you make in:
how you do your work
what work you do
how you work with others
It will come as no surprise to anyone that managing a diversity of roles
brings signicant pressures and challenges. In performing their roles, team
leaders may experience some or all of the role strains examined in
Table 1.2.
Point for reection
Taking into account the nature and extent of your role, identify examples of the
different kinds of role strain that you may have experienced or are currently
experiencing. In what ways are the four concepts identied in Table 1.2 useful for
understanding others behaviours, as well your own.
BEING AND BECOMING A HIGHLY EFFECTIVE TEAM LEADER 5
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE TEAM
LEADERS?
A trawl through the literature suggests that there are certain attitudes, key
behaviours, leadership styles and management approaches that appear to
characterize the more effective team leaders. Among them are the following:
( Strategic leaders are able to picture a range of possibilities several stages
ahead of the current phase of organizational development. It was said of
Napoleon that like a good chess player he could envisage several steps
ahead and consider various permutations.
( Strategic leadership is pragmatic rather than head in the clouds. The
strategies developed will lead to tactics which will need to engage with and
succeed in the real school world. These strategies must therefore be based
on a realistic appraisal of the environment in which the school nds itself,
the resources at its disposal and the opportunities that exist.
( Strategic leaders have a great sense of timing they have the patience to
wait until the time is right to make a major intervention, yet have the
boldness to strike decisively when the moment is right. They and their
schools are alert and ready to seize an opportunity.
( Leaders whose current work is future-focused are more likely to be
working strategically. They invest their time in developing people and their
capability for the future of the school, as well as managing the current
needs of the school.
( A strategic leader is willing to work with others in alliances and
agreements to make a more signicant intervention than either party
would be able to make alone. If necessary, the strategic leader is willing to
subordinate the schools need for recognition to making progress against a
broader agenda for change.
Point for reection
Review the above characteristics of highly effective strategic leaders. To what
extent do you display these characteristics? Who in your team is able to contribute
to strategic considerations and discussions in a meaningful way?
HOW CAN I GAUGE MY PERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS AS A TEAM
LEADER?
To be effective, your team leadership behaviour needs to be consciously
directed and controlled. This implies a need to understand yourself and your
actions. In her book, The Successful Self (1989), the psychotherapist, Dorothy
Rowe describes the successful or effective person as having:
( Awareness not only an insight into themselves but also into others;
6 MANAGEMENT SKILLS IN SCHOOLS
Table 1.3 The seven habits of highly effective people
Habit Characteristics
Independence 1. Be proactive
2. Do things with an end in mind
3. Manage your personal priorities
Interdependence 4. Operate on a win-win basis
5. Empathize rst understand, then be understood
6. Work to create synergy
Renewal 7. Preserve and enhance your productive capacity physical,
socio/emotional, mental and spiritual
( Understanding holding theories about the causes of events and peoples
behaviour, but also being aware of how these theories are formed.
She goes on to suggest six characteristics of a successful self, which
complement these core elements of awareness and understanding:
( feeling valuable, self-accepting and self-condent;
( not engaged in a constant battle to preserve their personal reputation;
( exible and creative in developing themselves in ways that are congruent
with their sense of who they are and their purpose in life;
( using their view of the world as a basis for making their own decisions and
being creative;
( having developed the skills to understand and work with other views of
the world; and
( having created a life story for themselves that gives a sense of progress
past events are interpreted in a positive light and are seen as leading to a
positive future.
On the same theme, Covey, in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989),
proposed that the concept of personal effectiveness is, in fact, based on
character which he describes as:
creating an empowering center of correct maps from which an individual can
effectively solve problems, maximize opportunities and continually learn and
integrate other principles in an upward spiral of growth.
He believes that our character is a composite of our habits because they are
consistent, often unconscious patterns; they constantly, daily, express our
character and produce our effectiveness . . . or ineffectiveness. His seven
habits of highly effective people which form the basis of character are shown
in Table 1.3.
BEING AND BECOMING A HIGHLY EFFECTIVE TEAM LEADER 7
Point for reection
In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey maintains
that habits have tremendous gravity pull, which we may need to break out of if we
are to enhance our effectiveness. Breaking these deeply embedded habitual
tendencies such as procrastination, impatience, criticalness or selshness that
violate basic principles of human effectiveness involves more than a little will-
power. Think for a moment about your, and your teams, habitual tendencies. How
might the more desirable tendencies be strengthened and the non-desirable ones
eradicated or their effect minimized?
HOW CAN I GAUGE MY COMPETENCE AS A TEAM LEADER?
At this point in your reading, you may nd it useful to spend a little time in
gauging your own capabilities in whatever team leadership role you currently
occupy. For example, you may be head of a primary school, a subject
coordinator for maths and technology, pastoral head of the upper section of a
high school, a Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO), or assistant
headteacher within the schools leadership group. However, it may be that you
are aspiring to one of those positions, in which case the exercise is just as
valuable because it provides you with a professional development agenda.
Whatever your particular role and perspective, come to a personal view about
your existing competences by working through Table 1.4. You do not score this
exercise but the nearer your level of competence is to the descriptors set out
in column D, the more advanced is your development in relation to that
competency. There are at least three ways in which you can complete this
exercise to gain valuable insights into your present level of effectiveness:
1. Consider each of the competences in turn and, from the four descriptors,
select the one that most accurately describes the current situation. This is
a useful exercise and may offer you a view of how well advanced your
skills are in particular areas. As important is the perspective this exercise
offers you on what you might need to attend to in order to develop new
or more advanced skills. This can be useful when discussing your
development objectives and opportunities with your own team leader in
the performance management review.
2. Complete the exercise as described above, but share your perceptions with
one or more colleagues who know what your role entails and the way you
perform it. Use this as an opportunity to gain constructive feedback, using
actual examples, of the way you currently do things and how you might
improve on the way in which you do things in the future. This could be a
useful part of your performance management review.
3. Again, complete the exercise as described in (1) above and try to identify
some concrete evidence to support your views, e.g. things that people have
said, actions that have resulted in improvements. In short, when you have
8 MANAGEMENT SKILLS IN SCHOOLS
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BEING AND BECOMING A HIGHLY EFFECTIVE TEAM LEADER 11
1. selected a descriptor that best summarizes your personal perception,
simply ask: How do I know? Where is the evidence that shows that?
This can result in a very comprehensive self review in preparation for your
performance management review.
WHAT IS MEANT BY LEADERSHIP STYLE? HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS IN
LEADING A TEAM?
Your leadership style is the pattern of behaviour that you adopt with your
team, to plan, organize, motivate and control its activities and performance. It
is the extent and manner in which you listen, set goals and performance
standards, develop and implement action plans, guide and direct others,
provide feedback, etc. Research over many years, (e.g. Tannenbaum and
Schmidt, 1959; Blake and Mouton, 1964; White and Lippitt, 1983; Leithwood,
Jantzi and Steinbach, 1999; Gunter, 2001) has shown that leadership styles are
important because of their impact on how individuals within a team feel, and
the extent to which they are motivated to perform at higher levels and
therefore have a greater impact on standards. Highly effective team leaders use
a range of leadership styles to suit the requirements of the various situations
they encounter. By doing so they create a context and a climate in which staff
will want to succeed at the core purpose securing higher standards of pupil
achievement.
It is not the intention here to describe all existing leadership models and
styles. This section simply identies six leadership styles that you can consider
and so form a view of their relevance, or otherwise, to your professional
context. Table 1.5 sets out these styles and describes the circumstances in
which they are most and least effective.
Point for reection
Having considered the six styles of leadership outlined in Table 1.5, what views have
you come to about their relative strengths and deciencies? Which style do you
favour and why? Is there a mismatch between the style you favour, the one you
employ most regularly, and the one that your team respond to best?
HOW CAN I HELP TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF WHAT WE DO AND
ACHIEVE AS A TEAM?
In their efforts to improve the quality of what they and their team do, one of
the rst tasks for team leaders is to dene key standards: standards that are
so crucial that they stand apart from others because of their potential to impact
directly on learning, teaching and pupil achievement. These key standards,
and methods for achieving them, are described in Table 1.6.
The Teachers Standards Framework (DfES, 2001a) is helpful for supporting
team leaders at all levels within schools subject leaders, SENCOs, Advanced
Skills Teachers and headteachers because it sets out the expectations for
12 MANAGEMENT SKILLS IN SCHOOLS
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BEING AND BECOMING A HIGHLY EFFECTIVE TEAM LEADER 15
Table 1.6 Improving standards of quality
Key standards Approaches to securing these key standards
Leadership leading the
team towards high
performance by seeking
continuous improvement in
all that they do.
Ensure that team members are focused on continuous
improvement of all aspects of their performance. Recognize
and acknowledge individuals within the team for the success
of their efforts
Strategy developing the
team vision, values and
strategic direction
Establish all objectives with the aim of reaching the highest
quality standards. Communicate and reinforce aims clearly to
all, and review and update them regularly
Staff ensuring that team
members are motivated,
well managed and
empowered to develop and
improve
Develop all teammembers in the skills and competences they
need to meet their improvement objectives. Communicate in
ways that are appropriate for individuals as well as the whole
team using a range of media
Resources using nancial
and other resources
efciently to achieve key
objectives
Ensure nances are managed efciently and everyone knows
what is happening and why. Invest in the most appropriate
technology to support teammembers in managing their time
and priorities
Processes ensuring that all
policies and processes are
consistently highly effective
Agree performance measures and provide feedback to
maintain the momentum for improvement. Encourage team
colleagues to formulate innovative ideas for improving
practices and processes
effective performance in different roles. It maps the standards that currently
exist, and the expectations they contain. It shows how the expectations of
teachers can grow and change at different stages of a career as they assume
different roles within schools. It helps them to recognize their existing
expertise and achievements as well as any development needs they may have.
The framework summarizes the key elements in each of the standards under
ten dimensions of teaching and leadership within a school:
( knowledge and understanding;
( planning and setting expectations;
( teaching and managing pupil learning;
( assessment and evaluation;
( pupil achievement;
( relations with parents and the wider community;
( maaging own performance and development;
( managing and developing staff and other adults;
( managing resources;
( strategic leadership.
16 MANAGEMENT SKILLS IN SCHOOLS
Table 1.7 Standards framework for subject leaders and headteachers (adapted from DfES,
2001a)
Role Strategic leadership
Subject leaders ( Create a climate which enables other staff to develop and maintain
positive attitudes towards the subject and condence in teaching it.
( Develop and implement policies and practices for the subject which
reect the schools commitment to high achievement, effective
teaching and learning.
( Ensure that the headteacher, senior managers and governors are well
informed about subject policies, plans and priorities, the success in
meeting objectives and targets, and subject-related professional
development plans.
( Establish a clear, shared understanding of the importance and role of
the subject in contributing to pupils spiritual, moral, cultural, mental
and physical development, and in preparing pupils for the
opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life.
Headteachers ( Create an ethos and provide educational vision and direction which
secure effective teaching, successful learning and achievement by
pupils and sustained improvement in their spiritual, moral, cultural,
mental and physical development, and prepare them for the
opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life; and secure
the commitment to the vision and direction of the school.
( Present a coherent and accurate account of the schools performance
in a form appropriate to a range of audiences, including governors,
the LEA, the local community, OFSTED and others, to enable them to
play their part effectively.
( Lead by example, provide inspiration and motivation, and embody for
the pupils, staff, governors and parents vision, purpose and the
leadership of the school.
( Ensure that all those involved in the school are committed to its aims
and are accountable in meeting long-, medium- and short-term
objectives to secure school improvement, and targets which secure the
educational success of the school.
( Ensure that the management, nance, organization and
administration of the school support its vision and aims.
( Provide information, objective advice and support to the governing
body to enable it to meet its responsibilities for securing effective
teaching and learning and improved standards of achievements, and
for achieving efciency and value for money.
Point for reection
Table 1.7, which is adapted from The Teachers Standards Framework, sets out the
standards that (i) subject leaders, and (ii) headteachers would be expected to
achieve within the strategic leadership dimension. Select one of these roles and
comment on the value of the standards framework in helping you gauge your
existing personal effectiveness and professional competence, as well as your
development needs.
BEING AND BECOMING A HIGHLY EFFECTIVE TEAM LEADER 17
SUMMARY SELF-REVIEW
Spend a little time considering and then responding to the following review
questions:
1. How readily do I ignore small mistakes made by team members and
focus on more important matters?
2. How well do I accept criticism from others?
3. How relaxed am I when dealing with others at work?
4. How secure and condent am I in my role?
5. Howreadily do I give credit to the teamfor high standards of achievement?
6. How fair and just am I in my dealings with others?
7. In what ways do I convey feelings of security to the team?
8. In what ways do I convey a sense of friendliness and concern for the
problems of others?
9. In what ways do I show respect for the people I work with?
10. How well do I communicate and motivate my team?
11. How would I gauge the quality of my participation in helping the team
achieve its goals?
12. What evidence do I have that the team respects me?
13. How readily do I accept the opinions of others, even when they differ
from my own?
14. How effective am I in keeping the team together at times of crisis?
15. Faced with a choice between speed and perfection, which one am I likely
to choose?
16. How effective am I at distinguishing between things that are urgent and
things that are important?
17. How effective am I at promoting the creativity and innovation skills of
my team?
18. On what basis do I believe that I perform tasks well?
19. In what ways do I communicate the standards that I expect?
20. What evidence do I have that my leadership style is appropriate?
Action planning
Having spent some time reviewing your approach to being and becoming an
effective team leader, identify some actions that you might take to strengthen
your current approach.
18 MANAGEMENT SKILLS IN SCHOOLS