3 Courageous Steps to Reducing Your Negative Voice

I’ve been reminded in the last few weeks how much I really don’t know.  I’ve been reminded how important it is not to make assumptions or indeed let my ‘negative voice’ dictate my behaviour.  I truly do not know what someone is going to say or how they are going to react.  I mean it makes sense, how could I?  I who I am and they are who they are – I cannot read other’s minds.

I have had many conversations over the past 6-8 weeks about courses I’m teaching and about coaching.  Many conversations, not about what I’m offering per se but about individuals lives, roles and what they are wanting to change or develop in their leadership.  I’m grateful as I sit typing this that these are the conversations I get to have most of the time – transforming, empowering conversations that sometimes in themselves have many insights for me and others.

I realised after three conversations this week (where I was extremely doubtful of getting the outcome I wanted) how massively important it is not to listen to my ‘negative voice’.  I was fearful enough that I seriously considered not even asking the question that I really wanted to ask.  This was because of course my negative voice’s commentary had already started:  ‘They won’t be interested’, ‘They will say no or not now, ‘They will say I can’t afford it or I can’t do the dates’…and I will be left disappointed, de-motivated and resigned to the fact I have to do more to engage more people.

Well what I actually did was I decided that I can connect, listen, ask the questions I want to ask and see what happens.  And then my friends I was shocked!  All 3 people just said yes!  And now I am thrilled – for them, for me and for the difference this will make to leadership in the world.

So my question to you is…where do you hold back, avoid asking the question you really want to ask?

Have a go at these 3 Courageous Steps:

  • Listen In – to your negative voice…what assumptions are you making about what may or may not happen? About how someone may respond?
  • Check-In – with those assumptions…how do you really know what that person will say or what the future holds? When in the past has someone said something you didn’t expect?
  • Be Curious – and courageous, take a deep breath and ask that question! You never know…none of us do…trust, be open…see what happens.  And if you get a response you don’t want… is it likely you will handle it?

Learn how to increase your willingness to be courageous, get past your ‘negative voice’ and put yourself forward.  Step In, Step Up in your Leadership.  And learn the tools to keep this going for yourself, for the rest of your life.

Come and join me in a warm and empowering environment, in my online taster session for The Power of Self Esteem course.

Taster sessions are on Wednesday’s 28th September or 5th or 12th October 6-7:30pm.

I’d love to see you there…

FREE tickets here: Book FREE Online Taster for Power of Self Esteem

Nicci Statham is an executive coach who specialises in changing behaviour, she is passionate about empowering clients to transform their results through changing their attitude and behaviour.  Follow her on Twitter @awareleadership.


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The Power of Your Word

Change Commitment into Reality

Happy New Year!!!

After spending most of today working on how I am going to bring my purposes for this year to fruition, it occurred to me that the most important part of any commitment is doing what we said we were going to do.

Keeping our word.

What does it really take to keep that plan, that New Year’s resolution? Because it’s not just the first few days of the year – it’s over and over again each time we get presented with the choice to keep it or drop it.  And that will happen. Undoubtedly life is going to throw in lots of challenges to test our commitment.

It’s that split second isn’t it?  The moment of choice, do we choose new resolve or old faithful?

This happens all the time in changing educational leadership behaviour – it’d just be easier wouldn’t it to go back to old habits: it’d be quicker to do that work ourselves, dictate rather than empower, remain small rather than step-up and be seen.  After all we and the school benefited in some way didn’t it? Otherwise we never would’ve developed those skills in the first place.

That makes total sense; our way of behaving may have worked really well for some time.  We got a great payoff so what’s the problem if we drop it just this once?

Maybe the balance tips when the cost outweighs the payoff. Especially if that cost is creating some of the most important things we value, experience or want for young people in our schools.

So we are back again at the moment of choice. This is it, right here, right now. When that split second choice comes up, what will you choose?

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The Educational Energy of Possibility

Reflection of leadership

I had a school client this week that came in frazzled and exasperated because another one of her staff had resigned.

Totally understandable, her continuing challenges are time and getting to a place where the workload eases up. She sees her main issue in this as not having enough time. We all have the same amount of time though, right?

What I noticed more than anything was the utter resignation she was in about finding a new member of staff – and one that will fit perfectly.

What energy does this create, being in a frame of mind that no matter what we do, we are not going to get what we want in the timeframe we want. Sure, there’s a logistical reality – Christmas is nearly here and people may be on holiday etc.

However, I wondered whether in this mindset we can ever create what we are so desperately seeking? Being resigned, defeated and assuming we will fail, doesn’t this create a certain energy?

Even if we have doubts, when we get to the point where we have possibilities in front of us – are they likely to say YES to such a resigned or fear driven nature?

If you believe the theories about the law of attraction, we draw to ourselves the same energy we put out.

If nothing else, we could definitely have a good hard look at the truth of our assumptions…

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Leadership boundaries…

Leaders Owning Creation

I’ve had some fascinating conversations this week with head teachers and senior educational leaders about boundaries.

I’ve had sessions where some leaders are believing that because they are not good enough – they therefore need to prove their capability and thus find saying no (or indeed putting work/life boundaries in place) a massive challenge.

Of course this plays out with them working 24/7, always questioning what they are doing and believing they are responsible for solving whatever is incomplete.

Thing is, where’s the room for others to step in? If there’s no limit to the responsibility we keep taking and taking for the whole challenge, where’s the room or indeed boundary in that for others?

Boundaries are fundamental to create a frame for collaboration, mutual respect and most importantly encourage creativity and commitment…

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School Leadership – how much do you trust YOU?

Fill the Gap with Trust

This week I’ve had many conversations about trust. How we trust others, the unknown and ultimately ourselves. We may be holding back, hesitating, waiting for something to happen or waiting until we know all the details. This may be hesitating to make that call, say that idea, give that feedback, say no, ask that question, put ourselves forward, place faith in a project, reach out to support someone.

I have learnt from a new head teacher client this week that not trusting ourselves can be played out in school leadership in many different ways. Not delegating to staff, having a poor work/life balance because we believe we have to do everything as no one else could be trusted, confidence in our own and SLTs ability, capability even.

It takes a huge amount of trust doesn’t it to make room for others, to let go and be open to whatever may or may not happen?

How much do you trust YOU as a school leader?

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School Leadership vulnerability – are you willing to be seen?

you are a human being

I’ve had lots of evoking client conversations this week about this idea of ‘being strong’ or and not being seen to be vulnerable as a school leader. I know this is true for me sometimes too as an experienced coach. Because when we are vulnerable as school leaders, when it’s not all going how would like – or at the pace we would like – this can be a challenge can’t it? To be seen to be as fallible, human even?

There’s a fantastic TED talk by an amazing lady Brene Brown entitled ‘the power of vulnerability’. For me, this is a powerful talk about connection – and what really makes sense to me is that when we numb or hide our vulnerability, we also numb or hide positive feelings like excitement, joy, gratitude, passion. Who wants to not be having their dose of those positive feelings and experiences? Or role modelling this behaviour to students?

Thoughts or feedback? Do comment and let me know…

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Courage – Friend of Foe?

Leader lessons 2

This week theme has been courage, I’ve seen lots of school leaders who are struggling with the courage to say no, to put their well-being further up the importance list, to ask for feedback and not assume they know best. Because these things do take courage don’t they?

The courage to check out assumptions, the courage to say no or not now, the courage to ask for support and the courage to trust.

What if someone reacted how we feared or said what we didn’t want to hear?

So, take that step in your leadership – be willing to breathe, summon up the courage even if you have no idea what you are going to get back in return.  There IS a huge possibility that someone will step in or step up, be glad to support you or want to contribute more.

You have a part in your leadership too.  Leadership is not only for your teams, peers, stakeholders – you are allowed to enjoy it and get something in return!

Thoughts or feedback? Do comment and let me know…#educationalleadership


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Leadership Commitment – when is it ok to drop your agreements?

commitmentWe all have different styles, different ways of leading or working that we habitually carry on with – almost by default. As a school leader, especially head teachers and principals, the buck stops with you doesn’t it?

How many of us over commit ourselves and then have such a massive workload that there’s bound to be a fall out? Sometimes this is conscious and sometimes we just have so much to think about that we forget.

Happens every day doesn’t it? But when we drop our core agreements and this is habitual – the cost of this behaviour to schools, pupils, teachers and school improvements is HUGE. One of my school clients (deputy head) habitually says YES to any meeting or cover that she is asked – and then of course as she hasn’t even checked her diary, she keeps getting into an awful kerfuffle and ends up missing meetings, running from one thing to another and obviously becoming very stressed because she is constantly chasing her tail. And then there is the working until 9/10pm at night to keep up with emails/reading. Seems to me unless we are willing to look at what is really going on, this hamster wheel of stress and tail-chasing is unlikely to change. These are some of the common themes with my school clients:

  • They’ve said yes but actually haven’t even checked if this is feasible/practical
  • They’ve said yes when actually they haven’t really got space to meet the agreement
  • They’ve said yes because they fear they might upset other people or they’re not being supportive enough
  • They fear there is nobody else who is able or willing to do the job
  • They fear saying no because that would mean being selfish

So the dropping of agreements starts occurring because really when we’ve said yes or went along with something – it was just that. That’s very different from a conscious yes to an agreement that we have wholeheartedly fully committed to. And then there’s the running around talking about how busy we are to meet all these demands we’ve said yes to – bit of a martyr eh?

That’s quite a payoff isn’t it?

Thoughts or feedback? Do comment and let me know…#educationalleadership



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Educational Leadership – how are senior leadership teams kept motivated?

motivation 2I was reading this morning that ‘the TES is reporting that two-thirds of school leaders are considering leaving the profession, with rising workload cited as the primary reason for plummeting morale among senior staff…’

One of my senior school clients this week was sharing with me some of the child protection issues she had been dealing with in school.  I frequently hear this kind of thing when I do my community youth panel role – the awful home life some children have experienced.  However, for whatever reason, this time I found hearing about some of these realities really upsetting.  Somehow in that space and time it just seemed so much more real, and so incredibly sad.  I do hate some of the human behaviour in the world.

When I read this article this morning about school leaders, I thought ‘I’m not surprised’.  What regular support do senior school leaders have?  If they don’t have a dedicated person to share in confidence with and/or have time to reflect – I can totally imagine how the workload would be overwhelming sometimes.  And that’s without safeguarding issues that are upsetting.  We’re not talking about safeguarding or protecting your car with insurance here – this is children lives we are talking about.

All of my school clients are amazingly dedicated, committed and resilient actually – particularly in more challenging schools.  I’d like to see school senior leadership teams having coaching and other forms of support as standard.  With my school clients I do a big chunk of work around motivation and the huge purpose they have for their roles.  The purposes that come out are usually things like fairness and equality – wanting all young people to have the same opportunities and choices.  And what’s most evident to me every single time is that they CARE.

Thoughts or feedback?  Do comment and let me know…#educationalleadership


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School Work/Life Balance – what is enough?

enough1I work with a lot of head teacher/SLT teams on work/life balance – sometimes this starts with actually having one which then leads to putting some boundaries in place.  There’s been a theme running this week with my clients around ‘am I doing enough’ which then filters into ‘am I doing a good job’.  I had a new school client in yesterday who when I asked the question ‘what is enough?’ was very stumped.  She said no one’s asked me that before!

It is amazing how we can hold such strong beliefs and thus drive ourselves to prove that we are doing enough in school and as a leader by working 24/7.  Of course the remit of school leadership IS huge, however I have a few challenges to this theory:

  • Is that really what we want to be doing – where’s the enjoyment?
  • How do we know that by not working 24/7 we WILL lose or not gain something else?
  • What’s the cost to our health, well-being and life as a whole?
  • What is lost by filling all the leadership gaps so much?
  • What is the value of allowing improvements to settle or allowing for the unexpected?

What I found really interesting in all of this is teaching and learning is sometimes very much about giving students the space to learn.  Time for reflection, time  for concepts to land and most importantly for independence and self responsibility to be developed by individual ownership of the learning process.  So if teachers and leaders are in a constant drive to achieve and be doing ‘enough’ where is the space for learning in school leadership?

Thoughts or feedback?  Do comment and let me know…#educationalleadership
Do you have poor school work/life balance? Download an educational leadership exercise here:

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Work/Life Balance Exercise

Contact me  hello@awareleadership.co.uk or call me on 01920 485552 to chat about the benefits of school leadership coaching.

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