The challenges of Early Years leadership
This month I celebrate 30 years as a qualified early years practitioner with over half of this time being spent within a leadership role. One thing I can claim as a fact is that leading people is hard work, each single person comes with a unique set of behaviours, emotions which are constantly changing as they gain confidence, learn new skills and their personal lives unfold.
Add to this the fact that the early years practitioner role is ever changing, financially it is not the most lucrative industry and when working within the charitable sector working with families with a range of additional support needs, the role is close to impossible.
The demands on my time are immense, there are daily tasks requiring attention for example completing staff rotas, deadlines which are absolute, promotion, marketing and signing up new children each term. Obviously there are also the daily issues which need dealing with before a crisis happens such as cover for breaks, covering toilet breaks, and fetching gloves when we run out. The time remaining in any given week is limited which usually results in the time planned for leadership duties being neglected.
I know what I need to do, what I want to do and what would make a massive difference to other aspects of my role but I never seem to reach the top of the mountain or the bottom of the ‘to do’ list. I have some fantastic practitioners within my team who with the right support could be outstanding practitioners, I have new leaders who are keen to do well but need coaching and mentoring to lead their teams effectively but time for this always seems just out of reach.
I am certain I am not alone feeling like I am drowning.
With 30 year’s post qualifying experience, a degree in business and voluntary sector management and a post graduate certificate in Early Childhood Studies I challenge myself to find a way through this treacle. I have a huge toolbox full of leadership theories and I intend to work out how we can utilise these theories and make them work within the early years sector.
My challenge to myself is how do we find the path that will help us lead our teams to excellence.
Who or what is preventing you reaching the summit?