Episode 8: Self-awareness and leadership transformation

Episode 8 of the Leadership in Focus series is a two-part episode exploring self-awareness and leadership transformation with Gavin Grift.

Part 1

INTRO: School leaders play a vital role in providing every student in NSW public schools with a great education and the best start in life. They have a positive impact in classrooms and on their staff; they guide teacher development and engage their communities. Here at the NSW Department of Education's School Leadership Institute, our mission is to support all NSW public school leaders by providing world class, evidence-informed leadership development programs and resources.

Our podcasts will explore the key issues and challenges of school leadership. Hosted by Joanne Jarvis, the director of the School Leadership Institute - tune in and listen to our guests and colleagues share their expertise, insights and wisdom on leading with purpose and impact. Welcome to our Leadership in Focus series.

JO: Welcome to Episode 8 of our Leadership in Focus podcast series. I'm Joanne Jarvis and I'm the director of the NSW Department of Education's School Leadership Institute. Today we will be discussing the importance of self-awareness and its importance to overcoming the inevitable challenges that leaders face. With me today is Gavin Grift. Gavin is the founder and CEO of Grift Education and connects with national and international audiences on how to cultivate authentic collaboration, build success in others, and genuinely commit to reflective practice.

Gavin started his career as a classroom teacher and has been a school leader. This has helped him to connect closely with leaders in our School Leadership Institute programs. Gavin is the co-author of numerous articles and books. His recent book ‘Emerge’ on the importance of self-awareness in overcoming the common challenges associated with being a middle leader has just been published.

It's a real privilege to have you join me today as we discuss this important topic, Gavin.

GAVIN: Thanks, Joanne, and thank you for having me. I am just very grateful for the opportunity to talk with you about these important topics for leaders and for anybody serving education.

JO: What compelled you to write a book about self-awareness?

GAVIN: Well, a couple of things there. I think often, you know, the adage of an author is writing and researching about what they're trying to become themselves. So, I think there’s some truth in that. I think as from an early age, I became very self-aware very early, and I wasn't necessarily a, I wasn't somebody who loved school as a student. And I really worried incessantly about fitting in and how other people saw me.

So without going into sort of a whole other topic that level of self-awareness to some degree, whilst it can cause you so much pain, can also be your greatest chance of developing expertise. And sometimes the hardest things for us are the areas that we, can also become our greatest strength. And so, it probably started really early for me, this idea of self-awareness.

And then in all my coaching work, I do coaching around the world where I train 8-day seminars on cognitive coaching, which is ultimately how to help people build success in others. So, when you think about that, that work centres on how we help other people become more self-aware in order for them to be successful. But at the end of the day, we're left with ourselves, right? So that's great for those that we coach. But what about all those stories that play out in our own heads, those 600 thought worms I research in the book that we have every day? What do we do with those thoughts to nourish and flourish for ourselves? I think I've got a quote from the book that talks about language is the hallmark of humanity.

It allows us to form deep relationships and complex societies but we also use it when we're all alone, shapes even our silent relationships with ourselves. And I know that it's been so true for me in so many ways, it’s a deeply personal book from that aspect. And I know that's true of the leaders that I coach in my coaching practice, as well as those that I've worked with at professional learning standpoint and my own experience in schools.

So COVID came, lockdown in Melbourne came, 18 months came, and here was my opportunity to put all that thinking into something, plus wouldn't drive the family crazy, to get this out there. And that's really why I guess wrote this book, because I felt like it wasn't an area that we were addressing as much as perhaps we should be.

Even though we're very well-intentioned in what we're trying to do to support leaders across the system, and I think you'd agree now more than ever. I know in your role how important it is to cultivate leadership in ways that engage people to this calling because it's so important, so that's really why I think essentially why I wrote the book.

JO: Well, we're almost happy for the 18 months COVID experience, so we've got to engage in such a fabulous book. So, what have you identified as the key challenges in developing self-awareness?

GAVIN: Interesting one, isn't it? I think we, you know, both of us think we've had a lot longer and spoke about this on a deeper level.

You know, human beings in general, we're all a consequence of our own conditioning. And if you think about conditioning, everything from all the life experiences that we've had and that really shapes the way we view ourselves. And so, one of the key challenges around developing self-awareness is how to increase your consciousness, to view that, you know, conditioning.

Does that conditioning work for us? Does it at times not, you know, go against what we're trying to achieve? I think from that angle, elevating your self-awareness to be truly focused on your impact and look more internally about how you go about things. It's easier to look out the window really than look in the mirror sometimes. It is hard.

I mean, self-work is hard and I know that Kylie Lipscombe in her foreword for the book talked about that quite explicitly, that it's a critically important area of education, but it's also one of the most difficult. So, I think, you know, when we're so busy and we're on autopilot and we've got so many things to do to actually develop and, you know, develop a habit to be more self-aware in particular moments or even after an event so that we can that can inform where we go next is difficult.

I think the second thing I might add to there is forming new habits takes time and commitment. But I would argue self-awareness is a core prerequisite for that habit building. I mean, I've been trying to give up cheese for most of my life because my family has high levels of cholesterol, which is a really stupid example. But, you know, over time I've had to grow my self-awareness.

So, when I walk past that deli and the d’affinois cheese is screaming its name at me and my self-awareness can sort of plug in and say, ‘Hang on a minute, you've got some health issues here in regards to genetics that you can't control. So, you might want to just ignore the sound of the cheese calling at you.’

I mean, silly example but conceptually I think it's what I mean - that it's important for us if we're going to develop new habits so in this case, eat less cheese in order to get cholesterol down so that we get better results at the end of the day. And I've seen that we go back to leadership in the models of leadership I've had in schools and outside of schools.

I've been fortunate enough to work in education and in business and in both of those arenas my best leaders were highly self-aware individuals who were able to see who they were and what they did within the confines of the mission and vision of the organisation and calibrate themselves and therefore their behaviours in a way that moved that organisation towards that mission.

And I think I always gravitated to that kind of leader and learnt the most from them. So yeah, I think the key challenge is it’s hard and it's easier to be on auto pilot, it’s also easier to look sort of externally at the things that might be going wrong rather than internally. And for some people I think it’s even harder than others, depending on a whole range of factors, including life experiences, etc., etc.

JO: You mentioned that there's an intentionality about developing self-awareness. You know, and you use the example of the cheese and avoiding the calling of it. But how do you develop a habit of being intentional around developing self-awareness?

GAVIN: Good question and a complex question, but in the context of the work, the emerge work in particular, what I really talk about is pain points.

And I think our pain points are those challenges that confront us, that create us the greatest pain can be actually our greatest teachers. And if we think about the challenges that come across our work week, week to week, how that can be actually a bit of a trigger for us to think about, ‘Oh, here's a moment that I need to think differently, potentially, or pause and maybe look at the situation through a different lens or think about different approaches or strategies that I could take here so that I become more of a conscious responder than an unconscious reactor.’

And I think, you know again, the best leaders seem to be doing that on a regular basis, even though underneath they're paddling like crazy, right? So how do we utilise those moments in our career in our leadership life in the context of our conversation, to become a lever for our self awareness. And I feel quite strongly both at a personal and professional level, that when you can do that, you can feel greater fulfilment and joy and satisfaction in what you're trying to do.

And I think you can be kinder on yourself as well in the process, which is an important part of this because that challenge and hardship will be inevitable, it's inevitable. You know, they talk about what is it the two things in life is death and taxes or something. Well, I'd argue that, you know, change and difficulties are littered on our path.

If we choose leadership, then in some ways we have a responsibility to think about those difficulties as opportunities for maybe elevating and learning self-awareness in terms of learning more about ourselves.

JO: It's almost like one of our courage mindsets that we use the School Leadership Institute that's seeing challenges as opportunities for new ways of thinking or doing things as well.

GAVIN: Yeah, absolutely. I think another way of putting that is turning our poisons into medicine, which is not easy when you're again on autopilot, highly stressed, the relentless nature of schools and working and serving schools and the amount of interactions we have on a day to day basis. I often joke about, you know, if you've chosen, if you don't like people much and you've chosen education, it's like a life sentence with hard labour because you know, it is one of those jobs.

But again, if we're able to even focus our attention on that hardship or that challenge as a way of growing, yes, that takes courage. But I think the rewards are huge when we can do that. That's another thing on that. Joanne, Sorry, I just was thinking and I do talk more about this in the book from the research on self-awareness in particular, it's also important to ensure that we focus our self-awareness in the right areas.

I mean, we don't want to also spend this time in areas that don't actually serve us well. So, for example, physiological triggers is one area where we can focus on self-awareness if we feel like we're being triggered in some particular way, there's an opportunity there for us to learn from that. Or if we're feeling a lack of motivation or in a particular way, that could be a sign that well I need to look at this maybe in a bit more, with a bit more self-awareness.

JO: Great advice. What do you see as the five challenges you've identified in your book that will be useful in applying an elevated self-awareness to.

GAVIN: Well, that's thank you for that question, because that's really at the heart of the book, and particularly for middle leadership, although I think when I named some of these, you'll probably think it can be applied more broadly. As a middle leader and I was a middle leader in schools for over a decade and became a middle leader at the age of 28 and so, I think it's another reason why I was drawn to this, because I wanted to write the book I wish I had in my hands when I was that 28-year-old. And some of these things were true for me. So one is, you know, the challenges come from personal experience. Then when you look at the research, the research in middle leadership, in particular,r across the world starting to really expand.

And there's some key things that we can take from that. I also work with middle leaders and have done for ten years, and what I started hearing were the same kind of stories, you know, themes come up and really the five that I focused on in the book anyway, and I know there's more of them. But there is the overcoming the need to be liked, you know, so they're all archetypes really, and that's the pleaser.

And when the pleaser kind of takes front and centre, it can actually move us away from what our leadership role really is, and that's a tough one. The second one is the ostrich, I call it, which is overcoming, you know, overcoming that overwhelm of constant change. So sometimes we put our head in the sand and think and hope that it'll go away and it’ll change, but actually often that just makes it worse. So how do we think about that?

The imposter is quite a common one, and I know for many of us in leadership we talk about that, but we've got to be deeper than just feeling like a fraud. It's more overcoming the self-limiting beliefs that we sometimes have and building on focusing our attention in a different way in order to overcome those.

The dynamo, which is a huge one, almost when you work with educators, so fill in the gaps. ‘I don't have enough...’ and it’s a chorus of time, you know, that's bellowed out from the audience. So, overcoming, not having enough time. How can we as I talk about in the book, shift our relationship with time, change the way we think about time? Because trying to control our time is not necessarily something that helps us and the last one was the judge and juror, I call it, you know, overcoming difficult people at work. Because one of the questions I get more than most is around how we work with other people and particularly the people who we find challenging.

JO: So, I'm just reminded I've heard you talk about the dynamo archetype before, Gavin, and you have a really interesting reframe on the whole notion of time. Can you share that with us?

GAVIN: Yeah, I think I've been very much influenced by Oliver Burkeman's work and he wrote an illuminating book called 4000 Weeks, which is basically the number of weeks in an 80-year human life.

And if I can quote him, I think to quote him might be useful here. He talks about, ‘There is a very down to earth kind of liberation in grasping that there are certain truths about being a limited human from which you'll never be liberated. You don't get to dictate the course of events.’ I mean, just pause on that for a minute.

You don't get to dictate the course of events and I think about that as an educator and as a teacher. And the paradoxical reward for accepting reality’s constraints is that they no longer feel so constraining. So, if you combine that with Stephen Covey's work from years ago about time management being a misnomer, the challenge is to manage ourselves. I think that's what I'm really getting to with this piece on time is how can we manage and view time in a way that helps us to let go so that we can be productive and efficient and responsive and all the things we have to be in our role, that where our energy doesn't get siphoned. Because I often think about time when people say to me, and this is true for myself here Joanne, and I'm not excluded from this. When I feel depleted levels of energy, I do wonder rather than I don't have enough time to get through anything, I think more, hang on a minute - what are you bringing to this?

Like what aren't you letting go of? What are you putting pressure on yourself about? What aren't you prioritising? You know, it's again, a lever to self awareness. What is it that I can be thinking? Where I could be focusing my attention to in order to overcome some of that relentless pressure because, you know, that's a reality of leadership and a reality of schooling.

So that's I don't know if that answers your question, but that's really the premise behind the dynamo is it sounds kind of counterintuitive, doesn't it? But in order to manage our time more effectively, we need to let go of managing our time.

JO: No, it makes a lot of sense. I feel like I've just experienced a personal counselling session.

Thank you. The other one before we then just explore the five in a school context. The judge and juror I think is an interesting one, just in terms of the work that we do at the Institute in supporting school leaders to overcome this sense of working with people whom they describe as difficult people. And in your book, you actually ask the question, how can we overcome the problem of working with difficult people?

And you said first we may need to challenge ourselves to take a look at what we mean by the term difficult people. So, can you elaborate on that for as please?

GAVIN: Yeah, I just you know, when people say to me, how do you work with these difficult people, one of my first responses is to stop thinking about them as difficult. I mean because in a way, what you're doing when you're thinking about it in this way is you're seeing the difference, you're seeing the sources of the pain as opposed to a broader frame of reference that can help you understand this in more depth and hopefully with, I guess, greater wisdom.

I think, you know, are they really difficult people or are they just different to us and see things differently to how we do them. Are they deliberately annoying or have we just not yet learnt and practiced ways to work with them? And some of the, I wondered why you know, those physiological triggers we spoke about. But when I hear people describe people at work such as they’re blockers, or resistors or demanding, they're uncooperative and they’re painful. They’re just labels that we give people. Maybe they're people whose needs in the change process haven't been met, or maybe there's a whole lot of other things going on in their life that we don't know and we're not privy to that is compounding the situation where they're not being at their professional best.

Or maybe we need to lean in a little bit more and just find out more about them to make less assumptions about where they are. Again, sort of that internal look in the mirror, not out the window stuff. And I think in my own leadership over the years, that's been at times a difficult but a really important lesson is that, you know, if we can't see eye to eye, try heart to heart. You know, what's the option? I think it was Dylan William who I heard once say, ‘The best teacher development strategy is just love the one you’re with.’ And I think that assumes a lot of positive intent. And I know that that is not always easy. I'm not suggesting any of this is easy, but I always think what's the option when it comes to people.

I think the other thing to maybe add to that is, well, in the book anyway, I talk about enlarging our frame of reference to understand that adult development., if you look at Robyn Kegan's pioneering work around adult development, that we're all at different stages of adult development and even understanding that means we can be a bit kinder to ourselves and potentially other people. When it comes to leading, we want to influence and impact as leaders, but in that process it's always people before process, right? We can't really change anything unless we bring the people with us who are responsible for that change. So maybe rather than thinking of them as difficult we could think about where’s their stage of concern, if we look at the stage of concern model, for example. Where might they be in like a stage of being concerned about a particular piece so we can learn better how to work with those people based on where they're at in relation to the situation, rather than focusing on where we want them to be but they're not.

JO: And I'm wondering whether if leaders adopt that kind of that mindset, if you like, whether the benefit of that is a reduction in that hard emotional work that comes with leaders when they're trying to work with people with whom they may have a challenging relationship. If they adopt that kind of mindset that you've just described, surely the outcome of that would be a reduction in the corresponding sense of emotional turmoil.

GAVIN: Yeah, and again, that relates to what we're just speaking about because that can siphon our energy, you know, and when that siphons our energy, that has an impact on our capacity to use our time well. So, there's an interrelationship between these pieces as well. And I think, you know, for anybody listening to this and I write this in the book, you know, I write personal stories around my journey through this space.

I think these are things that can help us just in life in general, not just in our leadership. We can focus our energies and focus our attention again our thinking differently on a particular personal situation. And as you were saying, Joanne, the long-term impact of that, I think can be more fruitful for us, even though in the short term it might be quite a difficult thing for us to think about. And sometimes just taking that view can really, I think, assist us.

JO: Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your experience and for our listeners, visit the SLI’s website for further resources for school leaders. Google the School Leadership Institute and follow us on Twitter at NSWSLI. And thank you for listening.

Part 2

JO: Welcome back to our podcast on self-awareness and leadership transformation with Gavin Grift. In part one, Gavin and I explored how we can be more intentional about developing self-awareness. In part two, we will explore the different ways we can approach having authentic open conversations when dealing with challenging circumstances. Let's take the judge and juror archetype and drill into it even more deeply now Gavin. What's some of your best advice around supporting teachers and leaders to really address this particular area?

GAVIN: Thanks, Joanne. A couple of things there. First of all, I mentioned I've talked about pain points as being enablers for self-awareness. I think the first thing and I try and do this in the book is to help people understand if you have some pain points here and what are they?

So, for example, if you've got a member of staff or somebody working with that you don't fully understand, you have problems understanding them. And that would be one avenue for you to explore for yourself what you might need to do. Maybe it's you've got a whole lot of people who are all over the place in terms of a change context or not understanding that people maybe come before process.

You've got something, you can see how great it is and have beneficial it is. We get a few people who are, ‘This is not for me. I don't really like this.’ So, the first thing we've got to do is recognise who and what might be causing us some challenge because that therefore becomes an avenue into some of the things that we can do.

Now, I already talked a little bit about the stages of concern, so one thing we can do is just make it clear in terms of a lot of the professional learning Ido I help people understand where might people be at in regards to their change management, for example. Sorry, their people. So, they might be somebody, for example, who they've got on staff who’s more, ‘I've seen all this before’ kind of attitude or if you've got somebody who's more at the informational stage, which is ‘well, what even is this’. Then it moves to the personal stage with someone that’s ‘how’s this going to impact me’, or maybe it's someone who's the management stage, which is this is taking a lot of time, but they're not closed to the idea and you can see as they go through this, they become more open. In the consequential stage, I can see this has value and then eventually to the collaborating stage where, ‘How can I help others do this? Or how can we get more input?’

And hopefully at the end you've got some people that even at the start, you’ve got people who are at the refocusing stage, ‘Hey, I think we can make this better.’ It's one of the innovative stage. So, I think one of the, I guess advice is just understanding that people have different levels of concern to different areas of our work and our job then becomes once we understand that, who might we need to be and how can we support them to move through that stage and not to judge them for it.

Because all of us feel these ways in particular elements of our life, whether it be school life or outside of that. I think that just makes us human. So, when we can do that, I think it does enlarge our empathy really, or our capacity to be empathetic, which sits at the heart of this whole body of work, really, and this chapter in particular.

JO: And what place curiosity in that process?

GAVIN: Well, again, so then going back to who we need to be in the process, curiosity is huge; and a lot of this I know I have worked with your colleagues on because that becomes finding out and that becomes what kind of questions are we asking and how do we construct our questions in a way that's truly inquiry based rather than leading, for example.

They’re some of the things that we need to be thinking about. Paraphrasing, I teach paraphrasing, not parrot-phrasing but paraphrasing as a genuine way to try and seek to understand before seeking to be understood. We know some of these things conceptually as leaders, but they're not always easy things to do. But they are if they come from a place of belief where we think it's important because we know this person is at this, you know, more ‘I'm concerned stage and I don't really care about this.’

Well, maybe I need to do a bit more digging in here and ask questions and paraphrase to honour where they're at, to open them up a little bit, to hopefully move them forward. Because if we don't do that, are they ever going to move out of that stage? I don’t think so. So, curiosity is hugely important, being inquisitive, but I think there's a caveat there, isn't there?

Curiosity is important, provided we're not curious to lead them to our thinking and curious to move them towards a place of where we think they should be, but genuinely curious to find out where they're at and what we can do to help move them to a stage or somewhere else in fact, in terms of where they might need to be. That's always a tension with people and that becomes an opportunity for us in our leadership work.

JO: What are some of your favourite questions that you might suggest to suppo rt people to shift a conversation towards a genuine place of curiosity?

GAVIN: So, I think that's thank you for that question, Joanne. That's an interesting one because whilst it may be important to have some go to questions, I think the intent’s the most important thing, so what I tend to teach is really more of a pattern.

The first thing we can do is pause and then just allow a space for both of us to do some thinking and then ask a question around, ‘Tell me more about what that means for you? Or what might some of your concerns be around this? Or I'm detecting that you're feeling blah, a particular way. Have I got that wrong or is there something else that I can help you with?’

It's again, that gentle entry point. And then when they've responded or applied that we honour that through that paraphrasing, then from there we can ask more questions really around how to find out where they’re at with a particular piece. But I think, okay, so it's two things I'm thinking. One is we have to craft questions that are open ended, exploratory, and for that we can embed things like fool forms to make sure that they don't feel like we're just after one particular answer.

We’re generally trying to explore. I think through using an approachable invitational voice, I mean, little things like voice matter a lot, don't they? People often hear how we say something before they hear what we've actually said. And so even being aware enough of some of those pieces can be really powerful, actually, in some of the work we might have when confronted with difficult situations with people.

So that would be the first thing I'd say. And then the second thing on that, again, intentionality is everything. In cognitive coaching, we talk a lot about know your intention and choose a congrual behaviour. So, if your intention is to be curious and that is exactly what you're wanting in these situations, then our behaviours need to mirror that genuinely and authentically because human beings are a great at picking up meaning both non-verbally and verbally from people around what they actually mean.

So, if we have that intent and we're true to it, which carries a lot of integrity, then people will engage at a higher level, I think than if we're trying to kind of play a role, so to speak.

JO: Great advice thank you. Now, you've worked with many participants in our School Leadership Institute programs. What are some of the common themes and challenges around self-awareness that you have identified from that work? And how have leaders managed these challenges in NSW schools?

Gavin: In my work, Joanne, with many of your colleagues there, two things really sprung to mind. One is even when people believe in some of the messages that we're talking about here, even if there is, I think, an innate understanding that your self-awareness and becoming more conscious of that unconscious self, you know, that ego that we all carry is an important thing. One of the things that I think many of your colleagues have appreciated and I get questions around is how to practically apply particular pieces, because it's one thing to understand something in theory, but it's another thing to rehabituate, if you like, patterns of behaving that actually are meaningful.

And I think that's something that for many of your colleagues that they appreciate. Like things, for example, as you mentioned before, the way we ask questions. That's one of those pieces. Like how we paraphrase, when you're listening to someone, are you deeply listening? I mean, there's a difference between active listening, which is really going in with the intention to understand and deep listening, which is really listening for subtext and finding out what's going on around what somebody is saying.

I mean, as you know, someone could talk for 10 minutes and what they're really saying is, I'm frustrated. You know, so that's what we're listening for. And when you can give people strategies and tools to do that, I think that's a really powerful thing for people because it makes some of these concepts less abstract. Other things like assuming positive intent. Well how do you assume positive intent when that person has been the, you know, cause of my grievance for the last month?

That's an easy thing to say in philosophy, but there are some strategies that we can employ to do that. So I think I guess having some practical strategies that aligns with what we're trying to work on in our leadership selves is something that they've admired; and actually a few of the principals in particular who have spoken to me said this is a great consciousness lever for reminding ourselves that we shouldn't take for granted what we know and what we've experienced and what works for us with our leaders.

In fact, one of your colleagues said to me recently, ‘This has really helped me deepen my understanding about how to be more explicit with my people, about some of the things that I do.’ It's almost like making visible what is just an invisible way of leading and working for his leaders so that he's really building their capacity from that practical perspective as well.

And I thought that was a really interesting observation that he was making because he's basically talking about letting people into the private world of leadership, but to help skill them up and to provide them with tools as well as some of the rationale behind it. And I'm not sure that answers your question, but I know that's something that's been quite prevalent in my work with your leaders.

JO: No, it certainly does answer my question and I think again, it's really great advice for leaders to stop assuming that they know certain things about their staff when perhaps they need to pause, as you say, and reflect. And, you know, I'm mindful of the ladder of inference model whenever I hear that kind of advice, you know, get off your ladder and don't assume anything.

GAVIN: Yeah. I mean, I think the other thing to recognise in everything that we've been speaking about is this is hard. Like, and I think I say in the book ‘we’re all works in progress’ and you know, as long as we're working towards this and we're again elevating our self-awareness so that we can make that unconscious, conscious, that quieting the ego, if you like, that can become that barrier in our quest to find sort of more beneficial ways to lead, then we'll overcome some of these challenges.

And I guess efficacy is important there because it helps us. One element of being efficacious is feeling in control. You know, being a can-do person remaining optimistic and being self-managing. So, if you think about efficacy from that perspective, what this can bring you in terms of efficacy is huge because we can let go more readily some of the things that are out of our control and spend more energy in those areas that we can control.

So, I think that's, you know, all of this feeds into I know some of the mindsets that you're building in NSW as part of the leadership capacity professional learning. So yeah, sorry, I'm probably just rambling on a little bit here, which is, you know, you’ve worked with me long enough now to know that will happen, but that's what it gets me thinking about. I think that's what people value and not just value, I think it's what people both want and need in this work.

JO: I love the way you just talked about efficacy because I think, you know, we assume it's only about feeling like you can make a difference. But as a leader, sometimes we can assume that people who don't seem to be coming on, you know, Team Jo or Team Gavin because they’re just being difficult, whereas it could be, as Helen Timperley reminded me recently, that they just don't have the efficacy to feel like they can have the efficacy to feel like they can cope with the challenge of the improvement that's being suggested as part of the change process.

GAVIN: That again takes us back, doesn't it, to the interrelationship between these archetypes, because maybe there's a bit of the pleaser in that, you know there's, 'I want to be liked here and this is going to take me into a situation where I might not be liked’, because if you think about middle leaders in particular, often they're now being asked to lead people that they're friends with and that there was an entirely different role relationship with.

And so now I'm needing to go into a space where I might need to make a decision or articulate a decision with those very people whom, you know, sat more as a partnership, or there’s the self-limiting beliefs piece. There’s an interrelationship there, which is partly what you were describing. You know, ‘Can I do this? I've never done this before. Do I have the competency levels?’ I mean, they're all again, the self-stories that people have that I would argue, is where the leadership efforts need to be spent. You know, we support, we understand, we illuminate self-stories and help people edit them whilst we build our capacity to do that for ourselves, I believe we get better at being able to do that for other people as well.

JO: Well, that may be a good place to end this fabulous discussion that I've really enjoyed having with you this afternoon, Gavin. I note we're going to be calling this podcast The Emerge Effect - Self-awareness and Leadership Transformation. I think you've really encouraged us to think more deeply about the importance of self-awareness as we lead others to support the best outcomes for students.

GAVIN: It's been a real pleasure speaking with you this afternoon. Thanks, Joanne. I appreciate it. I'm very grateful for any forum I can have to talk about this work. I appreciate you giving me the avenue to talk a little bit about ‘Emerge’, which is obviously something that's very close to my heart and my head. And I really hope that makes a real difference for a lot of people. So, thanks for giving me the opportunity.

JO: It's my pleasure. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your experience and for our listeners, visit the SLI’s website for further resources for school leaders. Google the School Leadership Institute and follow us on Twitter at NSWSLI.

And thank you for listening.

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