Do you dream of a leadership role but you haven’t been spotted yet? Research has shown that women typically work really hard at their jobs expecting their hard work to be noticed and the promotions to follow. Sadly, that is not how it works.
Your headteacher is not responsible for your career, you are. Don’t wait until your annual review with your line manager to set your goals and review your successes, take ownership of your career path and invest in it.
Be clear where you want to head, because it will keep you focussed and help you realise your dream. Review your goals regularly so you know you’re still on the right track and that you’re still happy about where you’re going – you don’t want to waste time and energy getting to the wrong place because you’ve had your career ladder up against the wrong wall after all!
1. Once you’re clear where you’re going
Your big goal needs to be broken down into smaller steps – achievable and with dates of when each step will happen by and how you will know when you get there. A year is a long time, so set goals each month and each week to ensure you get where you want to go. Work out your game changer for the term. Regularly celebrate your successes – each and every tiny one of them.
2. Get in your discomfort zone
Nothing amazing is going to happen in your comfort zone, it will be just that – comfortable. So challenge yourself and get outside of it. Offer to lead that project, deliver that assembly or CPD, set up a networking group of teachers in your area of expertise, present to the governors, apply for a secondment, speak at the staff meeting, run a trip, write a blog for the school website, become an examiner.
3. Show interest in the area you want to lead
Audit your strengths and weaknesses – start with what you believe and then get feedback from those around you so you can work out how to improve and make progress in that area. Ask for opportunities to build your expertise in that area, so the existing leaders know you are interested. Offer to assist, especially if there are no formal opportunities and lower leadership positions to grow your experience and skills in that area.
4. Keep an achievement portfolio
If you aspire to lead on teaching and learning, keep a digital portfolio of resources and perhaps volunteer to develop a unique an new learning unit or a cross curricular experience. If the pastoral route is where you excel, offer to create resources for tutor time or PSHE and share them widely. Create case studies on students you support. Keep data that you’re given to show outcomes and create a new way of tracking or organising that you can share. Ask for testimonials and keep those thank you letters. And of course keep your certificates from courses. This will help you track your progress towards your goal and keep you thinking positively.
5. Keep up with current trends
Read the TES and Guardian Education, Teach magazine and Education Today and other education magazines for alternative views and follow TwitterEd, #womened, read blogs, such as The Hopeful Headteacher, books such as 10% Braver: Inspiring Women to Lead Education, DfE reports and publications. Get recommendations from colleagues in your area of expertise.
6. Network strategically
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is set up to showcase your skills in some way not just your job title. Connect with key people in education who have an opinion both on LinkedIn and Twitter. Comment on other people’s posts, not just like them, especially people who are in schools or areas that you’re interested in. Look out for conferences and courses in areas that you’re interested in not just your subject area so that you can go and meet others. Share information and resources. Join my new launched circle for aspiring women leaders who want to support each other on Facebook.
7. Think like a leader
Imagine yourself in the role that you are aiming for and start to think like them. Look for opportunities to shadow or assist the person in that role. A mentor within the organisation will improve your profile with leaders and give you advice, strategies and opportunities to progress in your organisation or within that role. Demonstrate flexibility in your approach and consider taking on extra responsibility to develop skills you need.
8. Develop your leadership capacity
Look for courses offered within your school or trust or your local network that would support your personal and professional development. Consider working with a coach. In NLP we believe you have all the resources you need to make the changes you want and the job of the coach is to hold space for you to reflect and guide you to access what you know will help you achieve and to create powerful inner change. They can help you break through your inner barriers and work on those all important soft skills – communication, confidence, listening, problem solving, managing conflict – and developing your authentic voice and leadership style.
9. Offer to support others
Offer to mentor an NQT or apprentice, or if your school has already got their mentors in place, perhaps suggest mentoring someone in their first post-NQT year – you remember that year when the support is withdrawn and you’re left to struggle alone with your first full timetable! Or co-coach someone who is struggling in an area you excel and has experience that you could benefit from. Or offer to buddy a new member of staff.
10. Increase your team’s visibility
If you are uncomfortable sharing your own successes, radiate the glow for your team. Make sure your name is clearly displayed on any reports, newsletter articles or wall graphics. Offer lots of extra curricular so that your subject is popular with students and publicise it well. Generate optimism and encourage others to share the great work you are doing.
11. Show gratitude
Look for opportunities to praise others as well as opportunities to thank others for their support to show how well you’re doing your job. Proactively support others’ ideas in meetings – particularly other women. Praise up as it’s so often unexpected, specific praise and what impact it had on you and that will prevent it from sounding like you’re ‘sucking up’!
12. Look at promotion opportunities
Even if you are not ready to move yet, look at the skills and expertise asked for in roles you’re interested in. Practise writing the paragraphs for your application letter and ensure you have evidence you can include in your achievement portfolio. You can use this information to guide you in setting goals. Remember, you absolutely don’t have to have 100% of the skills requested to apply for your ideal job when you see it advertised!
13. Manage your personal energy
You don’t have to compromise your health, wellbeing or integrity to get ahead. When you start with you, your values, your beliefs, you can carve a path of what is important to you. Make sure you surround yourself with people who believe in you and support you and create a self-care plan to manage your wellbeing and reduce your stress levels. Look after number one, which interestingly is the number symbolising leadership and initiative. When you nurture you, you will feel full of energy and passion to pursue your career dream.
So there it is, get yourself into the right places at the right times with the right people, believe you can and see and seize opportunities.
If you would like to work with a mindset coach, I offer a 12 week 1:1 Success Mindset Mastermind to help you break through your inner glass ceiling and transform your doubt into empowering self-belief and action so that you can be that leader you want to be. PM me if you would like to find out more.
Here’s to making dreams come true!