Heads Up

adapt_circ1.  Does it have a moral imperative?

You work in a school.  Ok, that’s obvious.  But just by working in a school you must have a moral reason for doing what you do.  And I’ll wager it’s more than just to educate your children.  That’s a tool to achieve something else.  So what are you trying to achieve?

Why do you do what you do?
Why do you work the hours you work?
Why do you care so much about your charges?
There is a reason and you need to figure out what it is, ideally with other leaders in your school, and this will live at the heart of your vision.

success_circ2. Is it like marmite?

A vision should be a bit like marmite, people should love it or hate it!  Ok, love or hate is a bit strong but people should really get and want it or not.  What you don’t want is a vanilla vision (not that I’ve got anything against vanilla) but a vision which is trying to please everyone probably won’t go far enough in inspiring others to action.  So don’t try to please every, create the picture of success you want to create and then see what people think. But don’t try to please all of them.

vision (2)   3. Can people see it?

   A great vision paints a picture in our minds, does yours?  And the picture illustrates the difference you are trying to make really clearly.

coaching_circ4.  Does your vision tell a story?

Our brains just love stories!  And stories build our cultures, from cave paintings to telling stories about your weekend.  This is one of the most powerful ways we can communicate and yet so many visions don’t tell a story.  It might be that your whole vision is a story or you use stories to give examples of what you want to create.  In schools I hear stories all the time and yet they seem to be lost when it comes to telling the vision.  Don’t lose them, use them.  I guarantee they will make your vision more memorable.  Here’s a great example of vision which is a story: The story of Joseph Martin.

value_circ5.  Do you have a head or heart vision?

We’re human and we have emotions – and our emotions are our primary drivers.  Yes, we’re good at rationalising things afterwards but we often do this to fit the emotional reaction.  If emotions drive us your vision needs to stir emotions.

A vision that bounces off someone’s head and doesn’t touch their heart just isn’t going to work.

communicate_circ6.  Is it too wordy?

We want to provide an exceptional, exhilarating and exciting education that equips our children with life-long skills, inspiration and an aspirational future.

Now look away and try to remember that vision.  If you can you must be a memory master because for most of us that just bounces off our heads!
This vision has a high fog factor – this is when there are too many long words in one sentence.  Our brains struggle to understand what is being said and that’s not good if you want your vision to be remembered.
This isn’t about having a short vision, it’s about the words that are used within it. 

value_circ7.  Does it talk about your values?

You probably have school values – do you talk about them with adult as well as children?  Are they part of the vision you’ve painted a picture for?

Values as words don’t tell us enough because those values and show up in the world in a vast number of ways – so you need to help people understand what they look like in your school and when they (and you ) are not living by them. 

And if that’s been useful to you here’s a bonus test:  Is your vision a vision or a mission?

About the author

If you would like to reproduce this Article on your website, you may do so provided that the following credit is given to the Article:

‘Sonia Gill is a founder and director of Heads Up Limited, an education leadership consultancy which specialises in supporting schools become outstanding.  Their training and coaching is recommended by the 100s of school leaders she has worked with.  To find out more visit www.ukheadsup.com.’