1. You need to balance the fierce urgency of daily demands – a sick student, an absent teacher, a broken water pipe – with the longer term planning need to get an organisation off the ground – staff recruitment, fund-raising, building relations with the government. I use a simple rule to help me prioritise: only do, what only you can do.
2. You need to be able to judge when to be rigid and stick firmly to your plans, and when to be flexible and compromise. If you are always rigid, you’ll fail to take people with you. But if you always compromise, you’ll be seen as a soft touch. What helps you make the right decision? Imagine your own child attended the school – what would you want for them?
3. You need to have sensitive antenna. The ability to spot problems other might not see, and then act on them.
4. You need to be able to recognise when calm means you are making steady progress, and when it means you are just coasting.
5. Be brave. Change always provokes resistance, and in our school that resistance is sometimes very loud, aggressive and persistent. And over time, it wears you down. There’s a temptation to choose the easy way out for a false sense of calm. It takes courage to resist it.
6. When things go wrong, you need to be able to you let it go. Don’t dwell on it and let it infect everything else in your life.
7. You need to be able to exude calm and cheerfulness even under great pressure. Everybody else will take their cue from you.
8. Sometimes step back and appreciate your achievements.