by Annie Grant
The fifth session of the 2017/18 Aspiring Leaders course focused on leading teaching and learning.
In the morning, Gail Weir, headteacher at Waverley School, Enfield, revealed the outcomes of a questionnaire – E. H. Porter’s Strengths deployment inventory – that participants had completed earlier.
Each participant received a personalised printout, which identified their preferred leadership styles as colours. Were they blue – altruistic and nurturing? Lots were. Were they red – assertive and directing? There were one or two. The remainder were ‘hub’ – flexible and cohering. The analysis also revealed the style that individuals tended to go to in conflict so, for example, a ‘blue’ leader might turn green (analytic and autonomising) in a conflict situation, going back to check their facts when challenged.
Next, working in colour groups according to their colour, and in role as leaders of a light sabre manufacturing business on the planet Zog, participants presented some bad news to their ’employees’ – the rest of the group. Due to a downturn in demand for their product, they were going to have to reduce their workforce by ten per cent. Each group explained how this would be achieved, and then received feedback from their ‘staff’ on how their messages were heard and received.
Finally, building on the feedback they received, each group repeated the exercise, but this time adapting their style, but not their message, to match it more closely to the colour characteristics of their ‘team’.
Everyone had great fun but the exercise raised important questions about self-awareness, awareness of others and appropriate leadership styles, and also about the importance of building teams that include a range of ‘colours’ to maximise their capacity.