As a head teacher or any school leader you are faced with having to make a multitude of decisions on a daily basis. Some of these decisions are easy and can be made using the facts to hand such as data, school priorities or amount of funding etc. but sometimes school leaders have to make decisions about things where there is no previous protocol or in situations where the leader has limited experience and sometimes decisions need to be made swiftly. All this can often be stressful for a new leader but learning to trust your instincts and intuition can help.
At first, trusting your instincts or intuition may be difficult to do. What if I make a mistake? What would others do? What will others think of me? These sometimes are the questions we ask ourselves that prevent us from following our instinct or intuition when faced with decision making.
When working with a client who struggles with decision making, I explore with them why this might be e.g. Is it a lack confidence in their role, their capabilities or themselves? Is it having a limited understanding of their role? Is it because they haven’t been given the freedom by others to make decisions? Is it because they have not got the knowledge or skills to make decisions? What are these skills? Are they given the opportunity to develop their confidence, or the time to do so?
I always say to any new leader, learn to trust your instincts and intuition. Learning to trust these can help you navigate a whole host of scenarios, and these can help you with both short term and long-term decision making.
Remember that you were appointed to your role because others trusted, believed and had faith in you. That hasn't changed.
As a leader, your instincts and intuition will help you to:
Know what is right for your school.
Choose initiatives wisely and with thought to the impact on your pupils and staff.
Ignore what others are doing. It may be right for their school but may be not right for your school.
Stay true to your values and focus on what you do best. Everyone leads in different ways.
Be compassionate if your instinct tells you to be. You will treat everyone the same and be fair, but you will also show extra compassion for those who might need more at any time. Remember, strong leadership does not mean uncompassionate leadership.
Know who to bring on to your team. The most skilled or experienced are not necessarily the most suitable for your organisation. Go from your gut instinct and build your team wisely.
Know when to lead from the front and when a different stance is needed. Strong leadership can mean leading from the front, but it can be stronger working side by side with your team, or even from behind at a distance.
Over time, you will learn to trust your instincts and base your decisions around what you know is right for your school community. How many times have you made a decision against your instincts and intuition and said, ‘I knew it, I should have trusted myself!’ Learn from these.
Start by making small decisions. Think about how it felt when you followed your gut instinct and was proved right to do so. And, if struggling with making a decision, ask yourself 'What's the worst that can happen?' And know that whatever you decide, it does not mean it can't be changed!
I also believe that if you stay true to your values and your purpose then you will not get much wrong. Ask yourself, “which action or decision brings me closer to my core values?”
If you feel it then do it, if not, then don’t.