Level 5 School Leaders And Hedgehogs

Are your senior leaders level 5 leaders?

Let’s hope so because you are in a good place if they are.

The idea of a level 5 leader is something developed by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great.

Level 5 leaders display a powerful mixture of personal humility and indomitable will. They’re incredibly ambitious, but their ambition is first and foremost for the cause, for the organization and its purpose, not themselves. While Level 5 leaders can come in many personality packages, they are often self-effacing, quiet, reserved, and even shy.

Collins details further qualities that level 5 leaders:

  • a dogged, unwavering, ferocious resolve
  • are fanatically driven with an incurable need to produce substantial results
  • are more like plough horses than show horses
  • apportion credit to events outside themselves when things go well
  • take personal responsibility when things go badly
  • set up successors for even greater success
  • are hedgehogs
  • are humble learners

You might be wondering what the other levels are. Well, here is a summary:

Level-5 Leadership

The idea that level 5 leaders are hedgehogs is an intriguing one and demands more explanation.

Collins believes that keeping things simple works because simplicity leads to greatness.

What’s this got to do with a hedgehog? Well, when confronted by a predator, the hedgehog’s instinct is to curl up into a protective ball. This  response is simple and works as a response to any attack.

When it comes to a business, Collins suggests that companies should focus on doing one thing better than anyone else in the world and this then becomes the organization’s “Hedgehog Concept.”

In a school environment, I’m not sure this idea translates and slides over as well as schools have to be good at lots of things.

However, it does work when we zoom in a bit more.

Schools can build a reputation for being the best at one thing and still be good at others things too.

So, if a school decides that it wants to be the best all girls school in a district then that’s their hedgehog concept.

If a school decides to develop and be the best at sports then they should focus on their provision as being the best.

School leaders themselves as hedgehogs can focus on lots of areas such as behaviour, home-school links, CPD, assessment, remote provision and plenty more besides.

Every school should have an edge and a hedgehog that sets them apart from those next door and further afield.

Image: Photo by Alexas_Fotos on Unsplash

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