In becoming the Education State, Victoria is committed to improving the outcomes of every student, in every classroom. Leadership is the cornerstone of great education systems, and the Department of Education and Training is developing better ways for principals to identify, develop and support individuals with high potential for leadership.
Bastow is leading the Growing High Potential Leaders framework—a set of simple tools and clear process guidelines to provide principals with a step-by-step approach to cultivating high-potential leaders in their schools.
Earlier this year, Principal Pitsa Binnion from McKinnon Secondary College participated in a pilot of this new framework. Pitsa understands the significance and power of providing teaching staff opportunities to grow and become strong leaders, and she is a big fan of any method that makes this easier and more streamlined.
‘Absolutely, I strongly believe in professional development and teachers stretching themselves to reach leadership positions. That's how I got to be where I am,’ she says.
It’s common in most industries to cultivate talent pools and run programs to develop and support future leaders. In much the same way, Pitsa believes, schools need to support talented teachers to build their leadership capacity.
‘Mentoring is very common in other industries and, although we do have some good processes in place, it’s often more ad hoc … we really need to professionally develop our people to aim high.’
Built around the current PD process, this new approach is designed to identify future leaders across all levels, based on three characteristics: potential, performance and readiness.
‘It’s a really structured and detailed process,’ explains Pitsa. ‘It helps you to select people carefully and to be clear about why it is that you're selecting them.’
When Pitsa used the process she found some of the results surprising: sometimes the people she initially thought wouldn’t make the final list were the ones with the most potential.
‘When you actually looked at what they had achieved and had really rich discussions with them about their long- and short-term goals and aspirations, and considered them in terms of the qualities the tool identified, different people stood out.’
Some of these qualities are quite standard, such as outcomes’ focused and meeting deadlines, but others are less obvious, such as learning agility, courage and passion. There’s also an element of spotting people who are ready to take the next leadership jump.
Taking a detailed look at each person helped Pitsa to narrow the field, and she says the framework presented a transparent system for identifying the next leaders.
She was also impressed that the model moves beyond simply identifying potential, to supporting and sustaining leaders.
‘It looks at the level of support they would need to achieve their goals. Who is best to support them, what professional learning and mentoring they need and how to engage them in networking, as well as a timeframe … it’s a realistic plan that sets them up for success.’
Bastow is running a Growing High Potential Leaders workshop on 22 August. Registrations are open until 17 August.