Seven Keys To Successful Outward Facing Leadership

Dr George Otero
Center for RelationaLearning 2011
[email protected]
1. Personal Development
Leaders are made, not born, and how they develop, grow and ripen is critical to effective
outward facing leadership. What distinguishes leaders who can create the collaborative system
being advocated? What personal qualities support integral leadership? Can these qualities be
Leading the outward facing school requires individuals who are personally effective as well as
competent professionally. Who are we as leaders? What is our experience with change? Every
person meets change in psychological and behavioural stages. Understanding our relationship to
change allows one to act with greater power and precision in enabling effective, lasting change.
Most developmental psychologists agree that what differentiates leaders is not so much their
philosophy of leadership, their personality, or their style of management. Rather it is their
internal “action logic”- how they interpret their surroundings and react when their power or
safety is challenged.
2. Understanding the factors that influence achievement, wellbeing, and life chances
It is now clear that there are many significant factors that determine success in the three areas
above. John West-Burnham, Maggie Farrar and George Otero, 2007, have developed a schema,
based on research that identifies the factors that influence a person’s learning, life chances and
wellbeing (Communities and Schools: Working Better Together to Transform Children’s Lives). In
this schema the personal, social, and environmental factors are identified.
Every outward facing leader must explore the schema and then identify the salient factors that
are most influential and relevant in their locality.
3. Speaking a common language accessible to everyone in the community
Human communication is multi-levelled and complex. Language has a profound impact on our
relationships and our capacity. More often than not, it’s not what we say, or even what we do,
but who we are that speaks volumes to our peers and to the members of the community who we
seek to serve. How can we reduce the jargon we speak? How can we establish a vocabulary that
will promote equality and collaboration across agencies and throughout the community?
4. Partnering
Forming a partnership does not guarantee that those involved will collaborate. To partner
effectively a number of skills, attitudes and values need to be developed and practiced. To
partner is to think actively together, to care about what is important to each member, to value
the process of communal enquiry within a democratic environment, to find and explore
alternative views and solutions, to follow the inquiry where it leads, and to mutually and
respectfully envision new possibilities and make judgments together.
5. Building social capital
Knowing how social relationships create capacity to bond, bridge and link is essential to
integrated leadership.
6. Interpersonal, social and networking skills (relational learning)
Any reform effort that improves relationships has a chance to succeed and any reform effort that
doesn’t is doomed to fail. We all need to build our capacity to deal with the realities of
communication; message sent and message received can be miles apart and what is taught is
seldom what is caught.
So much of our success and fulfilment in life depends on our ability to communicate – it forms
the foundation for our intimate relationships, our bonds with family and friends, our
effectiveness at work, and our ability to achieve our personal and professional goals. But all too
often conversations break down, despite our best attempts to understand and be understood.
The context and quality of the conversations we facilitate and participate often determine the
strength and sustainability of our working relationships.
Learning to facilitate dialogue and improve communication are skills that develop collaborative
relationships. Imagine how much more productive we can be if we knew how to transform each
difficult interaction into an open, responsive dialogue.
7. Community building
Our capacity to build community secures the human resources needed to address educational
needs with more equity and social justice.