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‘Just tell the truth’: former police chief offers leadership tips to FE principals

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College principals should always treat their staff "like adults" when making difficult decisions and simply "tell them the truth", according to Lord Blair.

With colleges across the country facing massive upheaval as part of the area review process, the former commissioner of the Metropolitan Police offered advice on how to manage difficult staffing and structural changes to delegates at the Association of Colleges’ annual conference in Birmingham.

"[It’s] about treating people as adults in this conversation," he said. "Telling people the truth with compassion is a really important point. [It’s about saying] 'I‘m sorry, I know you’ve dedicated your life to this, and we’ve now spent some days trying. But I’m not sure we can make it work’."

He added that the FE sector was in need of transformational leadership. "The best leaders give the workforce confidence in themselves because they’re doing the right things as opposed to doing things right," he said.

Lord Blair was Metropolitan Police commissioner from 2005 to 2008. He spent 34 years in the force after joining on a graduate scheme in 1974.

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