The three key ways that you can develop your leadership skills in teaching are:

  • Finding a mentor
  • Completing project work outside the classroom
  • Improving your communication skills

As a teacher, the ability to lead, enthuse and inspire is something which is required on a daily basis. Whether it's planning lessons or assemblies, motivating students in class or maintaining a calm and respectful teaching environment, leadership and people management skills are an integral part of the role whatever your position or experience.

However, if you really want to advance your career and progress to a more senior position, perhaps as a head of department or one day a head teacher, then you need to work on those skills beyond the classroom.

What type of leader you are ultimately depends on your personality, teaching style and existing skills but there are lot of things you can do to hone your leadership skills and really put them to practice. So if you have your eyes on a more senior role, here are 3 things to bear in mind.

How to be a great leader.

Find yourself a mentor.

One of the best ways you can begin developing your leadership skills is to find yourself a mentor whose leadership style you admire. This can be a senior teacher or head of department, who has a proven track record of leading teams, enforcing successful new policies and delivering positive results. Remember that you’re not trying to copy their style wholesale, but are instead really observing the rationale behind their management techniques.

The first thing to do is establish a relationship with your mentor. It doesn’t have to be a formal relationship but you can usually initiate this by asking for advice on a particular topic or inviting them into the classroom to observe your teaching methods. It also helps to set goals that you can work towards and don’t be afraid to get constructive feedback as this will help you identify a leadership style which really suits your role and skills set.

Want to find out more about how you can sharpen your leadership skills and take on a management role? Watch our 5-minute video guide here. 

Project work outside the classroom.

If you want to become a good leader it is important to step outside of your daily classroom environment and start considering how you can get involved with wider school issues. Sometimes teachers need to be proactive and step outside their comfort zone and day to day responsibilities to really demonstrate their leadership potential, so use every opportunity you can to get involved with projects outside of your remit.

Working on efforts to solve school problems with other colleagues outside of the classroom can be a great way to show that you are serious about your role and the direction of the school you work in. It will also allow you to demonstrate your problem solving and people management skills outside of the classroom and introduce you to influential members of other departments.

So whether you take a lead role in a school anti-bullying campaign, work on ways to improve parent attendance at consultation evenings or introduce a fundraising campaign for extra equipment, there are plenty of ways you can be proactive and take on new project management responsibilities. 

Our education recruiters have outlined their number one leadership development tip in the clip below:

Improve your communication skills.

It doesn’t matter how good a leader you are, if you can’t communicate what you want you’re going to have a problem. By definition, leaders aren’t shy and retiring, but that doesn’t mean they should be bombastic and over the top with management styles either. Improving your communication skills is as much about actively listening to others and improving both your verbal and non-verbal skills, as it is about making yourself heard and making what you say coherent and persuasive.

So if you want to improve your rhetoric and your ability to persuade others, ensure that you practice your style and take time out to understand your audience before you address them. This means listening to their concerns, understanding how they work and how they are likely to be motivated before you begin communicating demands or new ideas.