A Principal – Reflecting and Acting

The most effective leaders use different leadership styles at the right times relevant to the task, the people and the situation (Fullan 2005; Leithwood, Day et al. 2006; HayGroup 2010) . Such leaders take into consideration the strengths and weaknesses of employees, the complexity of the task, time pressures and available resources (Caldwell and Spinks 2008; HayGroup 2010).  


Hay Group are a worldwide research company who has extensively researched the qualities, skills, attitudes and actions associated with leadership in varied fields including education, management, business and politics. Combining with the Education Faculty at the University of Melbourne, material has been developed since 2008 for the Leading Australia’s Schools Program. The Program identifies six leadership capabilities that were consistent across industries. They are:

i)                    Directive

ii)                  Affiliative

iii)                Pacesetting

iv)                Participative

v)                  Visionary and

vi)                Coaching.


In 2010 I attended the Leading Australia Schools Program. The program provides comprehensive information for participants derived from self-reflection tools and survey instruments designed by Hay Group and University of Melbourne. Data derived from these tools provides rich information about the individual principal’s Social Motives, Leadership Styles (outlined above) and the Organisational Climate of the workplace, and this enables one to reflect on practices that will sustain change and achieve school transformation.


Of the six leadership styles that need to be applied to any one situation the Visionary, Participative and Coaching styles are best suited to sustained, long term change or transformation (HayGroup 2010). By providing long-term direction the Visionary Style creates a sense of direction and influences others to follow it. By generating new ideas the Participative Style builds commitment of the stakeholders through participation. By engaging in long-term professional development of staff, the Coaching Style develops the unique strengths of others for the future (HayGroup 2010).


The complexities of leading school transformation in a time of such accelerated change, requires principals to do all they can to support the transformation process. In 2010, information specific to my context and my capabilities highlighted the need for me to:

i)        Enable Teacher Autonomy; that is, develop the feeling among staff that they can decide how to do their jobs without constantly consulting their co-ordinator.

ii)      Encourage Risk Taking among teachers; and,

iii)    Promote Innovation by encouraging people to develop new ideas and approaches.

Specifically, I reflected that I needed to (and still need to):

          Delegate authority to the lowest appropriate level and set a minimum number of check-offs (depending on capability) in order to empower people;

         Ensure that teachers to have sufficient room to act and encourage them to exercise individual judgement, take reasonable and calculated risks, and use their time well;

        Encourage creativity, experimentation, and original, independent thinking in designing new systems, solving complex problems, exploring alternatives, and pursing new opportunities; and,

          Be flexible and help put new ideas into practice.


It is eighteen months since I attended Leading Australia Schools. Since then an eLearning Plan has been developed, pilot programs implemented and constant opportunities for teacher professional development have been initiated. The evolution of the eLearning Plan has resulted in new initiatives for 2013. In particular, our energy and actions are focused on producing integrated, cross-curricular and connected lunits of work for Year 7 next year and also a blended, multi modal approach to Year 11 Studies of Religion.


I look forward to the planning of the next six months before implementation in January of 2013.


Greg Miller

11 June 2012.





Caldwell, B. and J. Spinks (2008). Raising the stakes: From improvement to transformation in the reform of schools, Psychology Press.


Fullan, M. (2005). Leadership & sustainability:
System thinkers in action
, Corwin Pr.


HayGroup (2010). Leading Australia Schools Program. Leading Australia Schools Program, Melbourne Business School, Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership.


Leithwood, K., C. Day, et al. (2006). “Seven Strong Claims about Successful School Leadership. .” National College of School Leadership.

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