Follow my lead

16th November 2007 at 00:00
All headteachers should find out what their staff think of them. What they really think of them. They might be surprised. It's never easy to open yourself up to criticism. But if there are negative comments, try to ask yourself, "Why do my staff think that?" rather than take it personally.

At the start of the course a questionnaire goes out to staff and governors at your school, asking them to assess your leadership style. Then you sit down with a mentor, analyse the feedback and work on an action plan.

I thought my staff needed direction. But it turns out they already feel they have quite enough. They don't want to be told what to do, they want to take on more responsibility. I've always known that I have difficulty delegating, but it's only when it's written down in black and white that you realise you may be denying your staff the chance to stretch themselves.

Overall, it was hugely reassuring. In most areas of the questionnaire, staff gave me a higher rating than I gave myself. My leadership has been rated outstanding by Ofsted, and yet I still felt I had to push myself harder and harder. A lot of headteachers are their own worst critics, but an analysis like this can put things in perspective.

Jacqui Le Maitre is headteacher at St Mary's Roman Catholic Primary School in Worcestershire.

The details

The National College for School Leadership's Head for the Future programme takes place over 12 months.

Cost: pound;820 for maintained schools and pound;2,500 for independent schools. Grants are available for small schools. Applicants must have three years' headship experience.

Visit, email or call 0845 601 3032.

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