Leadership in early childhood can happen in any role, it is the decision made to be a role model and a professional, however there are also specific roles that require leadership skills. Here’s 5 tips to help with ensuring positive leadership no matter what your position …
- Communication is key: In order to be an effective leader communication must be open, honest, constructive, professional and frequent. One of the biggest reasons leaders struggle to connect with their team is due to poor communication. Dialogue should be reciprocal, or a 2 way street, not a one sided instructive approach. When providing an opportunity for others to use their voice make sure it is not always in a situation where some may feel intimidated, like a staff meeting, and that their voice is reflected in decisions made. Share rationales behind requests or feedback to help share knowledge and develop skills (e.g. “the obstacle course needs to be moved … because it is too close to the path and if a child was to fall it would be a dangerous surface as it is hard”). Consider if you would like to be spoken to the way you speak to others.
- Be consistent: Lack of consistency can cause confusion, frustration and even jealousy. Be mindful of whether some staff get more of your energy or time than others. When working with staff make sure feedback is consistent, not just when you have time. Be consistent in your expectations, don’t let these vary based on what else it on your to-do-list.
- Role model your expectations: If you have high expectations of others then you need to set high expectations for yourself. It is not OK to have a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ approach to leadership as this will cause others to judge your leadership style, and therefore quality of leadership. Depending on your position, your leadership role may take you away from the room more than others, but it is still good practice to be part of the roster for setting up, cleaning, or even nappy changes to role model appropriate practice and demonstrate your understanding of being part of the team. This also gives an opportunity to see how others are doing in the room without needing a special reason to some in.
- Remain professional and ethical: Sometimes leadership can mean power but this should not be abused or used to control others. Be mindful of your philosophy and service philosophy and use this to guide your decisions. Avoid taking shortcuts and doing what seems quickest as often this is just a bandaid solution and does not fix the underlying problems. To address the cause some honest and sometimes difficult reflection may be needed.
- Hold yourself and others accountable: In order to ensure that expectations are followed consistently there must be accountability at all levels for the following of policies, procedures, expectations, compliance requirements, parent requests and best practice guidelines. It can be hard sometimes as a leader to ensure expectations are maintained at all times and others are held accountable at all times, but even more difficult can be holding yourself accountable as this requires a reflective approach. If the above steps are taken then hopefully your role will be meeting expectations, but it should be permitted that others are able to address issues if they notice you have not followed service expectations, and they should be confident that they can do this without fear of retribution.
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