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Leadership Likes: Mrs Pattison’s Blog

Leadership Likes - Mrs Pattison

We recently interviewed members of the Lower Sixth applying to be part of our Head Girl team. It was a very positive process, which made me both proud of what they have gained from their school experience and impressed by these inspirational young women! Choosing was, of course, very difficult indeed and any one of the girls we saw would have been a strong and fitting candidate for these leadership roles.

The first question asked what type of skills they believed leaders should possess and the responses demonstrated that every single candidate had reflected deeply upon the role and its transformational power. We were offered: “comfortable with making difficult decisions”, “knowing how to inspire others”, “modelling effective teamwork”, “ensuring every pupil has a voice that can be heard”, “having a plan of what you want to achieve during the year”, and even “helping people understand why you want to change things”. I was incredibly impressed at the insight shown by these ambitious young women.

As a result, I have since been reflecting a great deal upon the qualities of leadership, particularly given the great change our country went through at 11pm on 31st January 2020. As Brexit Day approached, I found myself looking to our nation’s leaders, thinkers, and role models. What was I looking for exactly? Knowledge and updates, certainly. Guidance on what to do, perhaps. But, most of all, I think I was looking for reassurance that our brave new world would help us achieve the political and cultural independence so many voted for while not losing the prosperity, congruence with our neighbours, and harmony amongst ourselves that we all, surely, cherish.

Interestingly, when given the opportunity to ask us a question, many of our Head Girl candidates asked us, in return, what we thought were the most important qualities of leadership – some even asked what advice we would give them on taking up such a position. For me, one of the most crucial elements of leadership can be found in Shakespeare’s famous line from Hamlet: “This above all: to thine own self be true / And it must follow, as the night the day / Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Herein lies the key to successful leadership: be honest and clear about what you believe in and what is important to you!  Allow your past experiences and mistakes not only to shape the person you are but also to guide your thoughts and actions! This makes you a more intuitive, articulate, believable, and confident leader. It makes you real and genuine.

There were many fantastic answers to our various questions throughout the process. Personally, the one I enjoyed the most highlighted a clear philosophy for leadership. To paraphrase: ‘I haven’t always been the best at everything during my time at school, but I do think I have been the best at giving 100% of me.’

The candidates who performed best at interview demonstrated this kind of self-understanding. They could judge their own performance critically – but not destructively – and, as a result, intuitively knew what kind of a leader they would be. They spoke about how their experiences at Croydon High – both the fun times and the tough times – had helped them learn about themselves and had given them skills such as public speaking, managing difficult situations, project management, and understanding other people.

Perhaps even more importantly, their time at Croydon High had helped them realise what they were passionate about – whether that was changing the mind-set of their friends and peers with regard to eco-issues or helping raise the profile of ethnic minority groups within the school and local area. All the candidates we saw cared greatly about a variety of issues and their love of their school and the opportunities it has brought them shone through.

Without further ado, I am delighted to present to you our Head Girl team for the coming session. Congratulations to Head Girls Analisa & Emily and Deputy Head Girls Alice & Kaitlyn. I have no doubt these students will lead with integrity, intuition, and great care. We all wish them the best of luck!

Leadership Likes - Head Girls 2020-2021

I am also mindful of the fantastic students in this year group who may not be part of this small team next year but who, as members of the Sixth Form, will help to lead our school community. Day in and day out, they also demonstrate their talent, love of the school, and ability to build positive relationships. This is a year group that has fostered great bonds of friendship over the years. The most common sentiment throughout the interviews was “My friends are really important to me”. A mantra we should all try to remember over the coming 11 months!


Mrs Emma Pattison