Feb 16

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Aiming for low morale

Great leadership is all about having a miserable team, according to the chap whose job it is to make sure our schools are being run properly.

A good headteacher would never be loved by his or her staff, Michael Wilshaw, the new Ofsted chief told The Guardian: “If anyone says to you that ‘staff morale is at an all-time low’ you know you are doing something right.”

This left me squawking in indignation. I am choosing not to indulge in a rant right now about the influence this man has on the culture in which we’re educating our young people. Neither will I list the successful and happy schools I have worked with where both staff AND students, openly display genuine affection, respect and (yes) love for their head.

Instead, I choose to whack Sir Michael over the head with some cold, hard science.

Today, my friend Kimberley Hare at Kaizen Training published a piece describing  “crystal-clear research evidence from around the globe  – people who are happy at work produce more, think better, solve problems more creatively and effectively, take less time off sick, and collaborate better with colleagues and customers.  There is a real bottom-line pay-off”.

That sounds like a great place to teach and learn to me.

According to a decade of research, to ensure high performance in your team (which could well be a school)  it is necessary to pay attention to the ratio of positive and negative interactions taking place. For every negative experience or interaction, it takes around three positive interchanges to tip the balance back into a resourceful and happy space where teams perform well.

Head over to Kaizen for the sources.

In the meantime, if I were to have Sir Michael”s attention, I’d urge him to reconsider his views on what makes good leadership, and pay attention to the likely effects of low morale  amongst the teachers we’re relying upon to engage, inspire and encourage our young people.



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