Manage Leadership Challenges…

We face a myriad of challenges in our multi-faceted roles.


Many challenges we share, others we relate to and some are more unique to our schools or persons. They all fall somewhere within these six categories…



These main challenges can be addressed using 4 steps:

  1. Setting goals – professional and personal. SMART Targets, the recent IPPN PIEW Model is very useful for work related planning. Personal planning is more subjective but take time to regularly check in with yourself. 
  2. Delegate more. It builds trust and capacity among a staff. It also allows you to maximise your time by focusing on your unique contribution – those jobs only you can do – delegate or PIEW other jobs. 
  3. Increase your awareness of your leadership style and work from your your strengths. Know your value and value your worth!
  4. Get role clarity – ensure that the myriad of jobs pushed your way are actually YOUR job. If not – delegate or push back to agency/dept/BOM/etc. responsible. 

(Based on information gathered from the Center for Creative Leadership). 


It can become too much at times, and burnout is a very real threat in this role. 


Tips to stay well and sane in your leadership role:

Engage in continuous professional development in the area of Leadership.

The PDST has many courses and INTO and IPPN offer seminars also. These can be helpful for current information.

The CSL coaching and mentoring programmes are great for supported reflection and honing of personal and leadership skills. This is part of your role and should be prioritised by you as a VITAL SPACE  for growth and reflection. It is easy to consider this superfluous or procrastinate – it is however the most important time you can invest in as a school leaeder, as it will support your sustainablity and wellbeing. 

Prioritise your family and loved ones. There will be very busy and pressurised times, but these become the norm if we do not step back and form firm boundaries around ourselves, our time and our loved ones. We will not get the time we miss with our children, families and friends back, and we will not be thanked for making such sacrifices, so be clear and unapologetic for this. 

Don’t forget to prioritise YOURSELF also and think about and PLAN to take care of  your health and wellbeing. It will not happen by magic. You must dedicate time to yourself – time to reflect, recuperate, restore, reboot. 

Have some principal friends that you can trust and really talk to. Professional networking is great, but we need to be able to offload and de-stress among those who understand the pressures also, without feeling vulnerable or less because we share. Find the ones who have your back and have your best interests at heart. That is your principal tribe and will save you from untold misery and solitude. 

Be nice to all you meet in this role – you don’t know how your words may affect another – be it in person, on a digital platform or any other means. Being a principal can be a lonely station and a very real sense of imposter syndrome plagues some school leaders. Just be nice and avoid vexations to the spirit as best you can!


Last updated byAngela Dunne on 12 May 2020
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