So says the ‘first commandment of leadership’, according to Harvard Business Review, but what does it mean to ‘know thyself’ as a leader? A quick google search throws up the following words and phrases: ‘personal intelligence’; ‘mastering yourself’; ‘consciousness of thought’; ‘knowing your habits.’ We could probably give an account of our attributes, our intelligence and our habits, both good and bad, but how well do we really know ourselves and how we are perceived by others?
As the new, reformed suite of NPQ courses come online across the autumn and spring terms 2017/18, we are challenging our middle and senior leaders to ‘know themselves’ as a way to better understand the impact they have on others. Emotional Intelligence, or the ability to control and express our emotions, is key to all successful relationships in the workplace. In fact, studies have shown that EQ (the measure of emotional intelligence) has “twice the power of IQ” to predict success (Gerald Mount).
There are obvious benefits to be gained in schools in developing the ability to manage emotions and to recognise and acknowledge the emotional investment that our teachers make in their classrooms. We are engaged in ‘emotionally charged’ situations every day, from dealing with pupil behaviour to providing challenging feedback to NQTs or struggling teachers. The issue in schools is that, as middle or senior leaders, our time is pressured and we often lack the ‘headspace’ to properly reflect on our own emotional awareness and the impact of our own emotions and associated behaviours might be having on our teams.
The truth is that, with the current pressures on the education system, there has never been a more critical time for Head Teachers and Senior Leaders to invest in the Emotional Intelligence and leadership capability. An investment in developing self-aware leadership will pay dividends in the relationships around school, in teacher well-being, teacher retention and, ultimately, student outcomes.
Managing and expressing your emotions is not a sign of weakness, rather as a leader in school, it could be the source of your strength.