Leadership Matters : How leaders at all levels can create great schools by Andy Buck was recommended to me by Mark Anderson. I assumed this book was aimed at SLT given the experience and position of the author. However, as the title suggests it is a book written for leaders at all levels and aspiring leaders. I am a Middle Leader with experience of leading a team within my department and also leading on various whole school approaches and events. I am about to undertake the NPQML leadership course so I thought this book would be very useful and relevant- and it was, as well as very interesting (throughout you can read some of my favourite quotes from this book that I have selected and made using Adobe Spark Post).
Andy Buck has many years experience of teaching and leadership in different schools across the UK and he is now also a speaker, trainer and coach sharing his wisdom across various platforms. He began his teaching career in 1987 (the year I was born!) teaching Geography. As an NQT he was keen to progress but understood the importance of working with and learning from others around him. Buck has developed a strong sense of leadership and self confidence which is evident throughout his book.
However, the book has a very honest tone throughout as Buck reflects and often admits his flaws, “my default reaction was to blame” and that he was “quick to make judgements”. Clearly, recognising that leaders make mistakes but the importance lies in reflection, feedback and progression. This book made me reflect on my experiences as a leader – hindsight is a wonderful thing! Buck explains the importance of self awareness and recognising our own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of the people we lead. Buck explores how we respond and react both emotionally and rationally, as well as managing emotions – very important aspects to consider when dealing with individuals such as colleagues, parents and pupils.
I do agree that this book can apply to all leaders at different levels because Buck stresses the importance of working together to avoid an “us vs them” culture. It is clear that even when Buck progressed throughout his career he still demonstrated that he was prepared to have a hands on approach and that he was very much a team player as well as a leader. Throughout Leadership Matters Buck promotes building caring and open relationships with staff, parents and pupils where there is a mutual trust and respect. Buck shows that with honesty and transparency loyal leaders will lead loyal teams. Whilst reading this book I found myself reflecting and drawing on different experiences as a leader, recognising traits and qualities in other leaders and people I have worked with from the saints and stars to the sloths of teaching!
Buck tackles many of the challenges that leaders can face. Dealing with criticism and learning from it, keeping optimistic during difficult times and having the courage to take carefully considered risks are all explored by Buck. Managing conflict is another tricky area Buck delves into. Buck highlights the challenges faced when collaborating with others, from working with colleagues to working with other schools, but he explains the importance of collaboration and provides suggestions to do so successfully.
Analysing performance data, work scrutinies, learning walks and other strategies are all discussed. He also promotes the importance of giving others credit as a leader, being a humble leader through showing humility and leaders being ambitious for the school itself not for themselves as an individual.
Throughout this book there are a series of very useful diagrams and references to various well known and respected individuals such as researcher and educator Dylan Wiliam. As a result of reading this book I now have several suggested books to add to my future wish list of reading such as Stephen Covey – Speed of Trust and Jim Collins – Good to Great.
A lot of the content in this book could apply to leadership within most professions but the undertone that is always present within this book is that a strong leader within a school strives for the absolute best for their pupils. Whatever stage you are at in your career I do strongly recommend reading this book. Leadership Matters has not only provided me with very useful insight and strategies but helped me to reflect and become more self aware. There are clearly other areas of leadership that Buck could discuss but he also shares on his blog. I read his blog for the first time a few days ago and it wasn’t an echo or repeat of his book but instead his blog offers an additional high quality, interesting and informative read. Leadership Matters is certainly a book I will refer to again and again throughout my career.
You can purchase Leadership Matters by Andy Buck from the John Catt online bookstore here. You can also visit the Leadership Matters website here. Thanks for taking the time to read this review. If you have any book suggestions or books that you would like reviewed then please get in touch! You can get in touch via my contact page on my blog or you can send me a message on Twitter.