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School trustees in key leadership position, expert

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School trustees in key leadership position, expert says

School trustees are being advised to approach challenges in their schools with a CEO’s global perspective.

Speaking at the New Zealand School Trustees Association annual conference in Blenheim this week, organisational consultant Cheryle Randall is sharing her experiences of working with managing directors of international companies, and discussing how the same rules apply to trustees.

“About 10 years ago, people would probably have dismissed what I had to say about organisational change management and leadership assessment and coaching, but now it is accepted.

“What I am trying to do is get people to understand that the emotional state of leaders affects the culture of the company.”

Cheryle Randall says NZSTA President Chris France has embraced the importance of leadership.

“It is very important that trustees know exactly what’s driving them. They need to know what’s important for their school and whether their school policies reflect this. They also need to know what their critical success factors are going to be and how they are going to measure them.”

Cheryle Randall says another thing trustees can potentially learn from business leaders is to ‘ex-communicate their emotional reactions from the reality of situations.’

“They also need to look at trusteeship with a chief executive’s ‘global perspective’ and ensure they are not wasting energy filling in gaps,” she says.

“One of the problems trustees have is that many of them are only on board for only a few years - sometimes people are inclined to look at short terms fixes which have long term consequences.”

Cheryle Randall says she is extremely impressed with what she has seen from school trustees.

“The hardest part is making sure that there is a very good relationship between the board and the principal. That is the key relationship and you can’t have a board that is run by the principal – or a principal run by the board.”

She says it is fantastic that trustees are prepared to put in the energy to do the job. But they also need to recognise that they may not have all the skills they need,

“One important thing boards and trustees need to learn to do, like any good leader, is acknowledge a skills deficit if they have one, and find someone else suitable to do the job.”

The New Zealand School Trustees Association annual conference is being held in Blenheim from June 26-29.

The theme of this year’s meeting is “school trustees making a difference” and the conference will bring together trustees from around the country to focus on issues that are affecting New Zealand schools.

Other issues being discussed at the conference include managing a falling roll, looking at factors influencing the retention and attainment of Maori students, and trends in international student education.


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