Home' Belonging Early Years Journal : Volume 4 No 3 Contents 30 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • VOLUME 4 NUMBER 3 • 2015
training + recruitment
'Which one am I?' you may ask. Hopefully, you are
a little bit of all of them. By being able to call on the
various traits and skills of the different leadership styles,
you are able to more appropriately respond to the
various team dynamics and requirements that you
will come across. It's when you get stuck on one style
of leadership, and don't allow for exibility or change,
that issues can occur. In educational terms, for
example, a new director may have recently taken over
a struggling setting.The educators are disconnected
to the program, and nd little desire or need to
change.To lift the setting and team, certain styles of
leadership would be advantageous. A Commanding
or Pacesetting leadership is likely to be useful at the
outset.Then, in time, once the educators have gained
a greater sense of accountability and ownership of
what's happening in the environment, a change to a
more Democratic or Af liative leadership style could
be bene cial. If you remain set in your initial leadership
style, you might succeed in turning the setting around,
but run the risk of losing your educators in the process.
So, why does all this matter? Simple: because your
team, your educators, and the people that you work
with matter. I have had the opportunity to visit a lot of
very diverse settings and teams all around Australia.
The one constant that I have found in high-quality
settings is high-quality teams, and these only come
about through quality leadership. Putting time into
getting this part of your program right is valuable and
time well spent. Normally, it is in settings where teams
are not working effectively that we hear the comment
'I don't have enough time'.Time does not seem
to be an issue in settings where teams have been
developed and nurtured, and where each member
has a sense of accountability. In such settings,
educators have a clear understanding of priority
management and attaining goals, and they are given
the support and time to achieve them.
What does effective leadership look like? It's going
to be different for everyone. Some of the strategies
used may be similar; however, when and how they are
used may differ. Examples of strategies include:
• Ensure that effective communication is key on your
priorities. Be clear with your vision/goals, and be
speci c when asking for actions.
• Give your team a greater sense of accountability
for their actions. By doing this, you can move your
setting towards a more solution-based environment.
• Write everything down. A lot of different
conversations and discussions happen
throughout the day, and it can be dif cult to
remember everything. Unfortunately, it's your job as
a leader to remember everything, so write it down.
Not everything needs to be a journey, however,
and sometimes a quick notation of key points can
• Follow up.Try to touch base with your team as
they are working towards goals. Provide positive
feedback or support as required; don't wait for
them to fail or fall short.
• Establish your base of negotiable and non-
negotiable. Educators don't know that they are
playing outside the boundaries if you haven't
established clear ones. Once you have established
your non-negotiables, stick to them.
• Lean into those challenging conversations. If you're
the leader, it's your job. No-one else is going to do
it, and it won't go away until you tackle it. It may be
unpleasant in the short term, but in the long term, it
could turn your setting around.
• Celebrate your team. Our teams have demanding
and sometimes challenging roles to perform every
day.You need to keep the spirit of your team, alive
and keep stoking that passion (as Loris Malaguzzi
says, 'Children deserve passionate teachers').
To sum up, in the early childhood sector, our
teams matter, and to attain high-quality teams, they
require high-quality leaders -- leaders who care about
leading, who are responsive to the needs of the teams,
and who are passionate. We are not all born leaders,
and good leadership doesn't just happen. It requires
dedication, research, re ection and action. But the
great thing is that when it's happening right and
everything is coming together, you have the chance to
change the entire culture of your setting, and then the
sky is the limit. Happy ying.
Philip Butler, B.Teach(EC), B.Ed(EC), M.Ed(EC), is an
Associate at Semann & Slattery.
Goleman, D. (2000). 'Leadership that gets results'. Harvard
The one constant that I
have found in high-quality
settings is high-quality
teams, and these only
come about through
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