Principled Leaders

Last week the musings focused on the frivolous things; football, cricket and a bit of summer sunshine. The football continues this weekend – by this time you read this you may well be celebrating an English or Scottish victory in the big game. The test match (cricket) was a poor show. The sun did shine but it wasn’t as warm as was predicted or forecast.

Also running last weekend, but not mentioned by me, was the G-7 Summit in Cornwall. There have been occasions, in the past, when I have reflected on leadership, as displayed by some of the more significant global leaders. Over the past few years leadership has been a significant topic of conversation in kitchens and classrooms, not just in boardrooms and university lecture theatres. That’s because some of the leadership displayed around the world has been erratic, to say the least, and, on occasions, disreputable, disruptive and downright dangerous.

It has been heart-warming to observe the behaviours of President Biden over the past seven days or so, as he made his way through Britain and into Europe. He displays a different type / style of leadership to the previous incumbent. And that and his leadership style is something that we could all aspire to and learn from. I hope the leaders within our schools and college consider how they lead and to whom they may look to for inspiration. President Biden would not be a bad role model.

So, what is it about his leadership which is so different and credible?

Firstly, it’s the integrity. President Biden takes a principled and moral position on issues and he does not waver from that position however much pressure he may be placed under by others or events.

Secondly, his vision is important. He regularly sets out his vision for how the United States should be and, as he travelled around Europe over the last week, how the global system and individual countries ought to operate. He does not change his tune as his audience changes, he remains committed to, and articulates regularly, the same principled vision.

Thirdly: modesty and understatement. He’s not one of those big ‘I ams’. It isn’t all about him. It is about listening to other people, coming to reasoned conclusions and he lets the content drive the agenda, rather than the personality. He is happy to allow others to take the limelight, or even the credit, as long as the outcome is secured.

And finally, it’s about the preparation. He went into every meeting briefed, prepared and clear about what he wanted to achieve. Not all leaders do that. Some just try to bluff and blag. We would accept that from our children and young people yet we see it at a global level.

We are all leaders. Whatever role we’ve got within our organisations we have a contribution we can and must make. Leading isn’t about, as I’ve said in the past, a badge, or a title, or a grade, it’s about attitude, it’s about a vision, it’s about wanting to be part of something which makes a significant difference. That significant difference, in our case, is about shifting their experiences and the outcomes of our children and young people.

If you can, take some time to think about leadership, about how you lead, whatever your role and what contribution you can continue to make in the coming weeks. We’ll be doing that as we prepare for the next and new academic year.

‘Failure at some point in your life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable’. Joe Biden

‘We must rekindle the fire of idealism in our society’. Joe Biden