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08 Jun Leading in challenging times – it’s tough

So, this weeks FEWeek publishes another story of leadership departures from an FE College whose Ofsted judgement has fallen to inadequate.  This is a week on from the resignation of the Principal from NESCOT amid alleged conspiracy regarding appointment of her husband to a consultancy role within the same organisation.  This is not good for sector credibility.

Are we suddenly seeing a surge of incompetence and poor judgement of the senior post-holders within Further Education, or is it that FE Institutions and the role of the CEO/Principal are now very different to what they were 10-15 years ago?

So many significant changes are bound to effect the role and success of an FE Institution; the term ‘more for less’ is an over simplification of being efficient when many large ‘bricks and mortar’ institutions have to make nearly all their financial savings from payroll.  Throw in to the mix revised Ofsted Common Inspection Criteria, Post-16 Area Reviews, changes to qualification frameworks and the ongoing sector initiavitus, it’s not uncommon to see that the incumbent CEO/Principal has left or is leaving the institution.

There’s an obvious argument for accountability and ‘doing the right thing’ – but just changing the top post holder doesn’t necessarily address the cause of the issues.  Each organisation needs to really get back to basics and understand why they are in the position they are in – simply promoting the VP or buying in an interim CEO/Principal may achieve what needs to be achieved.

Being the successor in such a transition can be tough, often ‘stepping up’ to a higher level of responsibility to achieve what wasn’t achieved before, and with less resources to do so.  I hope that aspiring leaders don’t let all the headlines of CEO/Principal departures put them off – with some simple foundations, a lot can be achieved.

1. Know what needs to be done, ensure somebody is responsible for each task to do it.

2. Work with your Board to ensure you’re held accountable for the right things, AND supported in getting there.

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate – up, down and across the organisation – everyone should know point 1 and progress towards it.

4. Get your processes right, stop utlising resources (people, financial) on activity that doesn’t contribute to point 1 or the Strategic Plan.

5. Celebrate progress as it’s made – small steps are the journey to achievement.