Leadership has been seen as providing direction and exercising influence. Certainly being able to inspire others, having a clear vision, thinking creatively, having a problem-solving approach to difficulties and a commitment to partnership working as well as developed interpersonal skills are qualities of leaders. More specifically in the Early Years Foundation stage it is about leading others, leading learning and leading innovation in ways that are both practical yet creative.
When we lead others we give them a sense of direction, yet at the same time we give them ownership and autonomy which allows them to grow and develop. For an organisation to flourish, regardless of whether you have three or thirty employees, requires that the potential of each person is unlocked. Success then is about being demanding yet having clear objectives but also about being creative; having confidence but also being self-critical; supporting to others yet stretching. Leading a team of others also involves creating a “can do” culture, taking calculated risks and demonstrating that learning from mistakes is acceptable, rewards success and develops personal accountability that is supported by collective responsibility.
Leadership is distinct from management in as much as it is an art more than it is a science and it is focused on philosophy, vision and policy rather than on the practical day to day running of an organisation. In early childhood settings management is a necessary component of the leader’s role but it should not be the full extent of what the leader does. Leaders have to inspire others so as to influence them and they need to share their philosophy and beliefs so that the staff have a deep understanding of the values to which the organisation is committed. Amongst the many tasks leaders in schools and settings catering for young children need to consider is how leadership of learning is managed since it is no longer sufficient to leave this to chance because research has made it very clear that young children’s life chances are influenced the most during their earliest years.
Being creative is about seeing and doing things differently, using your imagination and ‘thinking outside the box’. Creative leadership is about being creative leaders on a personal level and providing the conditions and opportunities for others to be creative (Stoll &Temperley, 2009). Ken Robinson in All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture & Education shared four characteristics of the creative processes:
- They all involve thinking or behaving imaginatively
- Overall, this imaginative activity is purposeful
- These processes must generate something original
- The outcomes must be of value in relation to the objective
How do you as an Early Years leader demonstrate creative leadership to respond to the challenges and changes the sector faces? Would you like to receive support with leadership?