It’s funny that I thought of this quote when I thought about integrity. It’s a quality that is so important but perhaps one that comes with experience and confidence (and finding yourself too).
I remember taking part in one of those activities on a leadership course where you had to complete a diamond 9 or some other hierarchy with values. Integrity would always be one that came up. I think everyone knew it was important but I’m not sure I, and probably they, knew the depths that integrity reached.
I was a youngish Headteacher when first appointed. Whilst I don’t think age is specifically a factor, I don’t think I had spent enough time seeing alternatives to the norm. I didn’t (or at least hope I didn’t) take the convenient path, although I was swayed by the majority. This often came in the form of guidance from the powers above such as Ofsted and the LA. It’s not that these things were necessarily wrong, but I don’t think I showed integrity in my approach to considering them.
A couple of years ago, an Improvement Advisor asked me to speak to some aspiring Headteachers about moral leadership. This prompted me to think about integrity. I focused my thoughts on my moral compass and didn’t think about what others wanted me to think.
After reading Matthew Evans’ brilliant leadership book, I was inspired and encouraged to write my first blog. It was about the phases of my leadership journey. To cut a long blog short, I feel like I’m in the third phase of my headship now and it is the first tine I feel I am truly leading with integrity. I can say that with confidence because the decisions I know make are not based on government policy, local authority expectation or whatever the latest whim is. They are based on what I think is right for my children, staff and community.
I was determined not to get political in this, but the landscape keeps me returning to it. I’ll let you reflect on the two images and make your own decision over whether Boris and the government have acted with integrity or not. What I will say is that now, more than ever, our school leaders need to. There will be pressure from the government, from the press and from parents to make decisions. We are likely to be faced with a barrage of questions or adults wielding guidance interpreted for their benefit. But we are also going to be surrounded by staff, parents and children who are full of anxiety. We have to show integrity in the decisions we make over the coming weeks and, if the situation warrants it, go against the grain. It may not be easy, but it will be the right thing to do.