Thursday, 10 December 2009

Emotionally Intelligent LEADERSHIP in early years settings

I am currently in the process of delivering a number of LEAD Early Years Leadership and Management training's funded by CDWC through London Local Authorities and demand for this training is increasing.

I am reminded every time I meet a new group of Early Years Leaders about the high level of commitment and dedication they have to providing the best possible care and education for children and families.

Leading a childcare centre is a challenging post that requires knowledge, skill and understanding of, not only child care practice, but finance, organisational structure, legislation, human resources, health and safety, marketing and much more.

Often, my course participants are leading large children's centres, children's services or nurseries as part of a group or chain. They have gained years of experience working in the early years sector and their qualities and skills as child care practitioners or teachers have been recognised by others as gifted. The natural career progression seems to be that they will share this expertise with their team through leading and managing the centre. However, often, this leads to them finding themselves in a demanding and challenging post with little experience and with minimal support for the skills and knowledge they need to assist them in leading.

Our early years leaders need to know so much, and processes, how to develop these, in addition to leading people and managing situations and events on a daily basis....they work with a diverse group of children and families to raise the citizens of tomorrow.

Often overwhelmed by their responsibilities, they question their own competence or the competence of those working with them and lead, often unconsciously, through exerting power and control over others or they feel powerless!

Leading in a way that facilitates shared collaboration and consequently achieving a culture of shared power and control in the setting, where everyone feels valued and empowered to contribute and to take responsibility, takes time and requires a leader with a high level of emotional intellect.

The work of Daniel Goleman and many others provide us with a set of competencies, which when developed, support us in leading and managing with greater confidence and ease.

These are:

  • Self Awareness
  • Managing Self
  • Social Awareness
  • Social Skills
Self Awareness
This involves us being aware of our emotional self, the things that we value, why we value these things, what we believe and why we believe certain things. why we behave the way that we do. To recognise the situations that trigger us emotionally.
Self Management
Understanding ourselves and knowing what we feel and need and choosing how to respond, particularly when situations or events trigger us emotionally. Managing our time, ourselves and our own development needs.
Social Awareness
Being flexible and being able to see not only our own view point, but also the view point of others and being able to see both of these perspectives at the same time is a real achievement.
Social Skills
Being able to communicate effectively and even more importantly, affectively, to influence, envision, deal with conflicts and mediate, coach and mentor others and empower them to take responsibility for themselves and their own area of work.
Being an affective leader takes commitment and passion, it requires us to journey through our own personal internal maps and to develop skills, understanding and an attitude that facilitates development, change and improvement in ourselves, with others and in the setting we work with.
It means being proactive!
Steve Covey's tells this story about pro activity in his book "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People"
"Once I was speaking on the subject of pro activity and a woman in the audience stood up. "You can't imagine what has just happened to me," she explained. "I'm a full-time nurse to the most miserable, ungrateful man you can possibly imagine.
Nothing I do is good enough for him. He constantly harps on at me and finds fault with everything I do. This man has been making my life miserable and I often take my frustration our on my family. The other nurses feel the same way. We almost pray for his demise.
For you to stand up there and have the gall to suggest that nothing can hurt me without my consent, and that I have chosen my own emotional life of being miserable - well, there was no way I could buy into that"
"But as I was listening to you, I kept thinking about it. I really went inside myself and began to ask - Do I have the power to choose my responses?
When I finally realised that I had chosen to be miserable I also realised that I could choose not to be miserable. At that moment I stood up and wanted to yell to the whole world, I am free! I am out of this prison! No longer am I going to be controlled by the treatment of some person."
It's not what happens to us, but our response to what happens that hurts

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