Individual Schools, Unique Solutions: Tailoring Management Techniques for School Leadership

By Adrian Raynor | Go to book overview

Chapter 2

The illusion of rationality

Jean drove to work that morning with a mixture of elation and trepidation. It was the first day of her first headship in a primary school, and she was full of ideas about what she should do, how the staff would respond to her and so on. She had decided to involve staff in decision making, as the head in her previous school did, since it had always worked there, and the atmosphere and culture were very good. Besides, it made sense, since people liked to be consulted and to own the vision. So she wanted the staff 'to have a team approach…to talk about things openly, to be involved in management decisions…to feel valued and that they had an important part to play'.

What she met was very different from the picture she had painted in her mind. At the first staff meeting, 'people weren't prepared to talk' and this continued into future meetings, where 'some staff would just look at the floor' and 'some meetings would be just me delivering a monologue with the deputy head chipping in'. Jean came to feel that staff 'regarded me with suspicion' and thought she had some hidden agenda, and wouldn't say what they thought. This proved very difficult as Jean tried to conduct an audit of where the school was, because people were not willing to speak to say what the school's strengths and weaknesses were. She also found there was a 'great mistrust' and people didn't want her in their classrooms when she offered to support special needs children. Indeed, they didn't welcome each other into their classrooms. The 'doors were very firmly shut'.

So what was happening here? It certainly did not seem like rational, logical behaviour. First of all, Jean found that the previous head, though staff had had a good relationship with him, had been very dictatorial and had been in post for a long time. There had been no joint decision making, and staff had come to accept that decisions were the head's job. This extended to parents, too, in that the head kept parents at a distance, and staff consequently had 'this great mistrust of parents'. For this reason, Jean felt it unwise to start to audit the school via parents' perceptions at this stage. Jean decided she couldn't tackle the issues and audit as a whole staff, and would work individually on individual issues.

-16-

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Individual Schools, Unique Solutions: Tailoring Management Techniques for School Leadership
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures and Tables vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - In the Mind 3
  • Chapter 2 - The Illusion of Rationality 16
  • Chapter 3 - The Illusion of Control 34
  • Chapter 4 - Chaos and Emergence 52
  • Chapter 5 - The Art of Juggling 71
  • Chapter 6 - The Art of Steering 90
  • Chapter 7 - Be a Paradoxical Leader 103
  • Chapter 8 - Cultivate Effective Relationships 120
  • Chapter 9 - Develop Sustainable Strategic Fitness 137
  • Chapter 10 - Manage for Creativity 155
  • Chapter 11 - Value Your Intuition 168
  • Appendix 185
  • Bibliography 187
  • Index 193
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