5 ways to develop independence in your team

May 1, 2018
Nick Taylor

Nick Taylor

Director of Science at the Littlehampton Academy

Sometimes I ask myself – could my team function without me?

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This blog is part of Ambition:Feed's developing others challenge. Find more tips and discussion on the Ambition:Feed homepage.

If the answer is no, is this the measure of a good leader?

I believe that, as well as being able to communicate their vision, values and strategy, a great leader must to develop an independent team.

Here are my five tips on how to develop your team to empower them to turn your vision into a reality:

1)      Have faith

Believe in your colleagues.

A motivated team who know that they have the support and backing of their leader is crucial to developing the confidence of individuals who will go that extra mile in times of need.

As with most schools, the recruitment of science teachers continues to be an issue. I would not have made it through this year without the commitment and resilience of my team.

I definitely don’t tell them that as often I should!

2)      Give them the tools to do the job

New performance measures, curriculum changes and developing resources were just some of the challenges when I took my current role. As a team we worked together to identify and prioritise the areas that presented the most significant barriers to delivering high quality teaching and learning.

In addition to this, it was clear that while my colleagues were keen to support and monitor the progress of their students, many were not confident with working with data.

By taking the time to understand the individual needs of my colleagues and by using faculty meetings to provide appropriate training and support, my team have developed greater independence and are able to reflect more on the effectiveness of their teaching on our students.


3)      Understand their ambitions, skills and behaviours

Take the time to get to know your team. What makes them get up and come into work each day? Find out why they do what they do, and what they would like to do in the future.

For me, this has meant that when opportunities for supporting the development of colleagues has arisen - for example supporting the funding of a project to reduce the attainment gap of key groups at key stage 3 -  I have been able to support my team in fulfilling these ambitions, rewarding their ongoing commitment.

When encouraging others to work together within a team, it is also important to recognise individual strengths, skills and behaviours. If paired correctly with others sharing complimentary traits, the collective outcomes are often greater than what can be achieved by one person alone.

4)      Take them out of their comfort zone

Why not use Vygotsky’s concept for supporting effective learning on your team?

Asking reluctant colleagues to share ideas in faculty meetings has led to some becoming regular items on the agenda, whilst others have spawned mini projects within the faculty. This has empowered colleagues and highlighted future leadership potential.

5)      Hold your team to account

Always support them, back them at every opportunity, but never settle for anything less than their very best.

This year, I have introduced fortnightly catch-up meetings with every member of my team. This provides an ideal opportunity to review the progress of classes and interventions while also agreeing deadlines and identifying any support or CPD required.

Formalising this process has enabled my team to operate with greater independence. It also keeps me informed and allows me to proactively provide support and guidance if required to my colleagues in order to meet the needs of our students.

How do you develop independence in your colleagues? Get involved in the discussion over at Ambition:Feed - tweet us using #ambitionfeed or join our Facebook group. 

Nick is a current participant in our 2017 Teaching Leaders Secondary cohort. Teaching Leaders is a leadership development programme for high-potential middle leaders looking to improve pupil outcomes and increase their impact as a leader.

This article originally appeared on the website of Ambition School Leadership. In March 2019, the Institute for Teaching merged with Ambition School Leadership to form Ambition Institute.

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