In our state-funded school, Southend High School for Boys, the primary purpose of leadership is to create an environment where others thrive (Sergiovanni, 1992). Our school is located on the outskirts of London and serves an economically and socially diverse community. We have 1,200 students, aged between 11 and 18, and have secured a national reputation for success in academic outcomes and sport.
As a school, we want all staff and students to feel energised to achieve their very best. One of our approaches has been to research and examine the qualities and characteristics of the most effective workplace relationships – not only between managers and their team members, but also between peers. These traits are not fixed, unchangeable aspects of individual personalities, but rather behaviours that can be identified, discussed and improved. We refer to them as the 10 Dimensions of Holistic Leadership.
Holistic school leadership
As leaders, we learned to recognise the importance of our behaviour in securing a climate for growth, excellence and job satisfaction (Greenfield, 2004). We know that sustaining the right climate through holistic leadership has many benefits, including: improving the reputation of the school; higher levels of effectiveness and greater efficiency; a reduction in absence and staff turnover (PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 2008).
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