Leadership as a chosen mindset
Kaiako Lucy Hayes describes why leadership is a responsibility shared by all stakeholders in learning, and reflects on how this can cultivate positive changes in learning outcomes for children.
I work at Daisies Early Education and Care Centre in Johnsonville. We are a private mixed-age centre, so we've got children from around nine months until the age of five. I am a kaiako and leader and I help people to grow and develop, whether they are six months old or 70 years old and that's a chosen mindset I have, and that guides my work.
So leadership at Daisies is a shared responsibility from our youngest infants to our directors. We encourage every stakeholder to have an opportunity to lead and be led. I really believe that effective, meaningful leadership is underpinned by having strong relationships with people. So I use these relationships as a platform to cultivate positive changes and learning outcomes for children.
I aim to support kaiako to articulate their ideas, and their thinking, and their knowledge, and also to identify areas that they need to learn more about. I don’t just go to work to do a job, I go to make a difference. Personally, I have found that strong listening skills and being able to listen intently to both children and to adults and moving aside my own assumptions is really important.
Supporting others involves careful listening and I think you really need time to ensure you have secure and trusting relationships with people so that there is that invitation to share and be open and honest, and to be able to support someone, it requires trust and understanding that we’re working together and it’s a positive thing. Sometimes that involves some challenges and sometimes that involves thinking really hard about practice. But having that trusting relationship within a team where the shared vision is that everybody grows, everybody is encouraged to share their ideas and it’s in a safe place. We don’t all agree all the time and for me, leadership is about extracting the essence I guess of someone’s ideas and helping them to build on that.
I think something, a fundamental disposition I guess for great kaiako is curiosity and taking risks sometimes, and challenging what is happening right now, and challenging our own thinking and perceptions, and that’s not always an easy thing to do. We know what we know and we have to make a decision to learn beyond what we know.
We encourage a culture of investigation, not not just with our children but with our kaiako too and that involves kaiako asking questions of new families for example, or looking for research, or articles that might challenge what they think currently but it becomes less of a challenge and more of a provocation for thinking and for discovering different ways we can do things.
So humour is a big part of who I am, my personality, and I offer probably a range of quite terrible jokes to my team which they tolerate beautifully, but I also use humour as a reminder sometimes that as fantastic as a plan can be, it’s not always going to go the way you want it to and that’s okay.
I think leading change and introducing new ideas takes courage and for me, my mindset is wanting to grow my team and my colleagues and supporting the centre, and the teachers, and the people within it to thrive and grow. My mindset is not I want to be in charge. I understand that I need to have knowledge and evidence and passion about what I’m introducing to get that buy-in I guess, or that trust from kaiako to join me and to embark on something new, and I think that’s especially important in times of significant change.
I take my position as a kaiako and and a leader very seriously. I love being a lifelong learner and I love the opportunities that I have to influence the lives of others in a positive way. I take risks. I put myself out there. I look for opportunities where I can support others, where I can grow myself, and also help to grow others.
This video is part of the Leadership for Learning downloadable workshop.