What Makes an Effective Senior Leadership Team (Slt)?

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What makes an effective senior leadership team (SLT)?

The nature of an effective a senior leadership team (SLT) will be the topic of this essay. The idea of team work and various models of SLT will be covered linking their roles, strategy, values and pitfalls. I will interlace this essay with some personal experience and relevant literature Belbin and Fullan to conclude through an historical analogy, my personal understanding of what SL T represents.

The combination of words in the sentence “Effective Senior Leadership Team” brings together an amalgam of important and decisive words, which individually symbolise strong individual qualities. None the less, one word effectively links the whole sentence into one, “team”. According Belbin (1993), the word “team” stems from the idea of sport and play where individual players hold specific positions in a given task in sync with a sense of reliability and trust. A School Leadership Team is usually constituted of the head teacher and deputy head. However, depending on the size of the school, the team vary in size, often, Assistant Head Teachers or Senior Teachers hold particular responsibilities such as leading a specific the key stages or assessment across the school. The team may also include the Special Needs Co-coordinator (SENCO) and increasingly the School Business Manager (SBM).

According to an independent study into school leadership (DfES, 2007) five essential “models” of SLT can be put in place (see diagram 1.1), so to hold a positive impact on the positive children’s attainment. The report argues that in comparison with SLT models, leadership behaviours appear to be an essential aspect on the positive impact on pupils’ performance. However, via the progress and creation of new leadership models, the right leadership behaviour can be cultivated (DfES, 2007, see index page 8). Figure 1.1 Five models of School Leadership


It is interesting to note from this diagram, the overlapping of the different models as described in DfES.

My previous school’s head teacher worked in collaboration with another school and where necessary, implemented similar strategies to both establishments. Fullan (2010:14) emphasises the importance of “network and system engaged”, a process whereby a school in no longer introverted but actively engage with exterior influences thus seeking a “two-way partnership” which helps develop and strengthen a collaborative culture within the school and beyond. My understanding of the role and responsibility of an SLT are to establish the strategic direction of a school and then manage it, to lead any changes and generally make sure that the school is doing the best it can for its stakeholders. In order to achieve the latter, Belbin highlights (2009, p1), “team role behaviour” as an important aspect in the constitution of the well functioning team and defines role preference as contextually mutable, in contrast, character that stems from the personality trait of an individual is less likely to change. He further defines (ibis, 1993) six specific roles that as a whole constitute our behaviour in a group or a team. In other words, until the roles are clearly defined within a team, instability appears to be omnipresent within the group. Belbin (1993) describes one of the six elements as “role learning”, the identifying roles of others and, the array of roles attributed to oneself. It is fair to say that once each role is clearly established within the group, confidence is installed. This principal appears to be an essential tool in the construction of an effective team as I have experience in my managerial work where the importance of each role enabled the team to perform to their up most. Fullan (2010, Principal: 14) stresses the notion of a good head teacher to have a keen “bias for action”, but strikingly cautious “in tending to relationship”. I believe, this is where, it is essential to remind ourselves that any team at all is constituted...
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