Sustaining and developing emotional resilience for school leadership
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Sustaining and developing emotional resilience for school leadership

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Research into what promotes emotional resilience and what undermines it in school leaders

Research into what promotes emotional resilience and what undermines it in school leaders

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  • ‘Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward’
  • Why resilience, rather than stress?: Answer: accent on prevention rather than cure. Why EMOTIONAL resilience? Answer: Because our emotional brain acts more quickly than our cognitive brain. ref Goleman: the amygdala hijack; when we lose control of our emotions they drive our behaviour. When we’re in control of our emotions, our thinking brain is in control of our emotional brain and we have a choice concerning how we respond to external events
  • What do we mean by emotional resilience: share working definition for purpose of this session – and reveal later what came from researchDogged determination – keeping on keeping onRemaining balanced and on track despite adversityBeing able to bounce backDefinition for purpose of workshop
  • Aspects which emerged from lit reviewER itselfImportance of wellbeing fostered by worklife balance, taking care of self and managing stressRole of valuesRole of ‘the self’Briefly address each of those in turn
  • ER metaphor of reservoir in school context – elsewhere ‘mental toughness’ – not overtly related to emotionThe importance then of ‘topping up’ the reservoir in order to be able to sustain others as well as oneselfSense that resilience develops with experiencePatterson’s extended study alone picks up on the importance of specifically learning from testing situations which allows resilience to develop. ‘What doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger’. Links with personal values, personal efficacy and personal energy.
  • Workforce agreement, 2003 largely failed in its objectiveA connection between the rewards of the role, support from others and well-being is established here, but it is not the whole story.
  • A reminder about the Barrett model:The true test of how far you have progressed on your leadership journey is how you handle adversity. When adversity strikes, do you descend into fear and react with I-based behaviours or pause, consider what’s best for the common good, and respond with understanding and compassion?’
  • From previous work, believed this to be important. If we aren’t comfortable with ourselves we can’t hope to lead others. Goleman: self-management – amygdala hijack and dealing with stress. Importance of regular relaxation/meditation which re-calibrates the amygdala. Ref: mindfulness Goleman: emotional intelligence: self-awareness, linked to self-confidence – without which, says Goleman we may be crippled by a sense of self-doubt: imposter syndrome: Clarkson, Kets de Vries. Self confidence has to be based on a realistic assessment of self, hence the need for self-awareness. Link to self-efficacy (sense of agency): a belief in the ability to take control and have an impact which is followed through in action - contrast with …Casserley and Megginson: Learning from Burnout: ‘dysfunctional closeness’: sense of identity wrapped up with organisation: can’t say no, (no sense of agency) delight in long hours; relying on external verification of self.. Patterson highlights self-efficacy; importance of confidence linked to competence (one without the other won’t do) Harris: Supporting the Emotional Work of School Leaders: importance of authority ‘based on a deep understanding of self’ and ‘degree of self-acceptance that enables them to move beyond their ego’ – connection to the work of Barrett’s seven levels of consciousness: moving beyond ego to focus on the greater good
  • 1. Interpretive: can be understood only subjectively. Aim to illuminate, not to prove2. 3 experience bands: 1-3 years 3-10 and more than 10. Actually 5 months- 27 years. Gender 4 F; 2 M. 4 within primary age : 5-11; 2 11-18Choice: pre-existing relationship. Why should anyone trust me?! Rapport crucial in this. Contract for confidentiality, including that I wouldn’t refer to anything learned in the interview in any other forum.Flagging up areas of questioning in advance for ethical reasons; also needed to follow interviewee’s lead in order to understanding ‘the inner story’. Audio allowed me to focus on interview and to reflect on silences/tone of voice etc when listening back. Transcript checked out with intervieweeAsking interviewees to define own version of ER was part of process
  • 1. From interviewees: Sense of bending not breaking ‘Ability to deal with high and lower pressurepoints and not break down’‘Ability to deal with stress. Reflect rather than get me down’‘Ability to deal with what comes up: whether it knocks you off course; adjust without it hindering your professional capabilities’2. ‘How tough people are. Ability to deal with emotional reaction without allowing negative impact on behaviour’3. ‘that ability to withstand the slings and arrows of misfortune – what armoury you have. Some people have really good armour and some people have good defensive systems, but it’s really what works for you’Definitions include retaining a measure of control
  • Consciousness of impact of worklife balance impacting on wellbeing. Taking time out – e.g. going away at weekends: being aware of and taking action to support work-life balance. Some new the theory but not evident in practice – in one case until a breakdown precipitated.Networks: HT new to position relied on her own network to verify her understanding of what needed to change in her school.Importance of aligning with values; acknowledging importance of support.Controlling what can be controlled.
  • Strong connection between feeling in control and feeling resilient.Like all leaders high accountability with limited control. Influence staff. Socio-economic factors affecting students’ attainment demands leaders engage with parents, to whom they are also accountable. 2. Degree to which they could acknowledge and live with the lack of ability to control varied.Necessity of acknowledging what they can and can’t control and influence ‘to stay sane’
  • We all have expectations of headteachers, including headteachers themselves. Newly appointed heads may be grappling with the question ‘who am I?’ as well as ‘who am I in the role’?Newly appointed leaders in any context carry own anxieties and those of community (whoever that community is). While they may be conscious of being compared with their predecessor, they may also compares themselves to the role models they’ve had previously. (Coaching and finding people won’t take on headship because they assume it has to be done in a particular way). Interviewees clear that at the beginning, there is inevitably ‘too much job’, as they try to find their way round new routines, assess the capability of staff, etc and – in schools - build relationships with parents and pupils. So there is a sense in which the job is most challenging when individuals are least experienced and feel least well supported because trust hasn’t yet been developed within the community.One of the few areas of unanimity was the acknowledgement that resilience had increased with experience in the role. In some cases this was associated with knowing the job better and being able to manage time more effectively (HTs 1 and 5); in others there was a connection between being able to accept the possibility of failure (HT2 and 6); while others talked about developing a ‘tougher shell’ and becoming ‘thicker skinned’ (HTs 1 and 5 respectively) or simply more confident (HTs2 and 3) or paying more attention to mental and physical needs (HT4). Emotional challenges of the role which remain to a greater or lesser extent, regardless of time served were  Dealing with personnel, safety or child protection issues (all interviewees)The isolation of the role (all interviewees)The need to be positive/resilient for others (HTs 1, 3, 5 and 6)Being a target for the projection of others’ anger or anxiety (HTs 1, 3, 5 and 6) Public accountability (though the impact of this on individuals varied) (HTs 2, 3, 4 and 5)Workload (HTs 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)Awareness of others’ expectations and professional standards. One HT referred to herself in the role as ‘I’m far more more grown-up in school’ Another referred to getting right away overnight once a month ‘so that I can come back and be the head; I don’t want to be the head 24 hours a day, 7 days a week’ . After 27 years one HT was able to look back to his early days of headship and acknowledge that he tried to be all things to all people but then realised that ‘sensible people do not expect perfection. They want an honesty and a willingness to say when you get it wrong’.How much able to be themselves?From ‘2 different people’ to ‘I am what I am’ - doesn’t correlate with experience in the role, but more with individuals’ own self belief and self acceptanceHow they interpret the role has an impact on their ER
  • Finally, in an attempt to know more about the role of the self, I asked about the inner dialogue when the going gets tough‘the sensible people do not expect perfection; what they want is an honesty and willingness to say when you get it wrong’. From literature:of those researched were self-confessed perfectionists and had a strong need to prove something to themselves and others at work. ‘I am sometimes quite happy not having everything done perfectly’ (Pass, 2009:9).I asked about the internal dialogue when things get tough
  • Experience means cradle to grave. Our experience as children, how we learn to deal with failure, how acceptable we feel to significant others and hence to ourselves, role models, all have an impact. In headship, meeting things for the second time and knowing you’ve managed to deal with them – or something like them – before – gives greater confidenceWhat still concerned me was that through the literature and the interviews, it was clear that though school leaders knew what they needed to do to increase their resilience – ensuring work/life balance; taking time out; acknowledging their own success – they still didn’t necessarily do it. Needed to make sense of this.Looked at how these various elements interact and constructed a model, which has proved helpful to some clients in understanding their own capacity for emotional resilience
  • I contest it’s a common experience that we are more able to stay on top of things if we stay physically healthy – underlined both by literature and interview responsesThat in itself requires self-discipline, fuelled by energy. I may be the only person in the room who’s decided to stay in bed rather than get up early and go to the gym, because I decide I don’t have the energyI define it as ability to sustain or cease activity, because it’s equally important to cease unhelpful habits as it is to sustain what’s going well. Sometimes it’s requires less energy to continue (giving up smoking, diets etc)Better we feel (wellbeing) the more energy we have – mutually supportiveHow effectively we use our energy in the service of our own wellbeing depends on our sense of agency: how able we are to make choices which align with who we really are – not pretending to be someone else, or acting against our better judgement because we believe it’s what’s expected of us. The HT who felt he needed to be someone completely different (and alien) at school, was using a lot of energy to maintain that, but it was undermining his wellbeing (hospitalised)If we have a weak sense of agency, we are less likely to make decisions which support our wellbeing, so there again. The less well we feel, the less able we are to take control. Again, mutually supportive relationship. All 3 components support emotional resilience.And yet again, the more resilient we are, the more able we are to take control in the face of adversity, balancing our own needs with those of our organisationThat’s not the end of the story. Our sense of agency is also affected by our own sense of self – do I believe I have the right to put myself first? Do I value myself? Do I see a connection between my responsibility for the organisation and my responsibility to myself? Do I see myself as superhuman and able to carry on carrying on?…So beliefs about self are influences by nature – the sort of people we are – and nurture – our cradle to grave experience – including our current experience in the culture and climate of our context – back to the Russian dollsIn schools, a strong belief that headteachers should put pupils first and in many cases that it’s not okay to ‘cream off’ resources to look after self.Take time to consider how the model would play out in the context in which you operate … (over to Gill)Nurture is about environment. Can’t discount the system in which school leaders operate, nor their ability to nurture themselves through ‘reparative relationship’

Sustaining and developing emotional resilience for school leadership Sustaining and developing emotional resilience for school leadership Presentation Transcript

  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland Bend or Break? Connecting Leaders with Emotional Resilience Gill Fowler & Julia Steward www.emccconference.org
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland Map of the session Context for leaders and background to research Themes from literature Methodology Findings from research Model of emotional resilience Questions and discussion: implications for us and our clients www.emccconference.org
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland Context for leaders and background to research www.emccconference.org View slide
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland Context for Leadership: accelerating change www.emccconference.org View slide
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland Systems within systems: from macro to micro-level www.emccconference.org
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland www.emccconference.org
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland The question: Is it possible proactively to develop emotional resilience for leadership, and if so how? www.emccconference.org
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland Exploring the literature www.emccconference.org
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland From the literature: definitions The ability to remain on course without being adversely affected by emotional responses www.emccconference.org
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland Emotional resilience Well-being/work-life balance/stress Values Self– -confidence -awareness -management -acceptance www.emccconference.org
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland www.emccconference.org
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland Work-life balance and well-being ‘knowing you are doing a good job without jeopardising health and happiness’ ‘I am sometimes quite happy not having everything done perfectly’ ‘being able to identify the positives so that you can celebrate success’ pursuing other professional opportunities networking with others time for reflection www.emccconference.org
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland Working in harmony with personal values Seven Levels of Consciousness Model © Barrett Values Centre www.emccconference.org
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland Relationship with self www.emccconference.org
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland Methodology Interpretive approach Choice of interviewees for range of experience Implications of a pre-existing relationship Semi-structured in-depth interviews with audio recorder and full transcript Emotional resilience defined by interviewee www.emccconference.org
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland Findings and conclusions www.emccconference.org
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland Findings: definitions www.emccconference.org
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland Findings: Positive contribution to ER ‘Personal and professional networks/support of family’ ‘Recognise stressful situations: control everything I can’ www.emccconference.org ‘Sense of achievement through making a difference’ ‘Feeling valued as an individual’ ‘Relaxing and doing other things at weekends’ ‘Having work life balance’ ‘Being aware of health: exercise, healthy eating’
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland Findings: resilience and control ‘I should be able to fix everything; especially within a school setting’ ‘I actually think - and I have learned – your mind can take you to places you don’t want to go, and you don’t have a lot of control over it. And that’s when your emotional resilience just goes’ www.emccconference.org ‘To stay sane you have to acknowledge that you’re not controlling all minds’ ‘It’s that old circle of influence, circle of concern stuff. I think, right, can I do anything about influencing? Is there anything I can do? Is it in my control at all, and if it’s not, then I just am much better at letting go …’
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland Findings: own and others’ expectations of leaders in the role www.emccconference.org
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland Findings: internal dialogue when the going gets tough: ‘I should be able to fix everything’: need for control Acceptance of lack of control Self-doubt, fear of being found out Awareness of own limitations: self acceptance Focusing on what hasn’t been achieved Noticing the impact and rewards of the role www.emccconference.org
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland Is it possible proactively to develop emotional resilience for leadership, and if so how? Emotional resilience is affected by experience How leaders respond to the role may support or undermine their resilience Leaders’ beliefs about themselves may have a positive or negative affect on their ability to stay on course in the face of difficulty Emotional resilience is supported by taking action to ensure well-being, including work-life balance www.emccconference.org
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June Emotional Resilience 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland Remain on course without being adversely affected by emotion Energy Ability to sustain or cease activity Attention to wellbeing Agency Ability to make and act on choices staying true to real self Beliefs about self nature www.emccconference.org nurture Inter-relations affecting emotional resilience, © Steward, 2012. In press School leadership and management
  • 3rd Annual Mentoring and Coaching Research Conference 27-28 June 2013 – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland For more information, contact julia@chrysalisleadershipdevelopment.com www.emccconference.org