February 2022 Newsletter
I hope you all had a wonderful and well-deserved Christmas Break with your family and friends. On behalf of the CaSPA Board I welcome you back to the new academic year and I trust that you have all been able to make a great start to the despite the challenges which are still upon us with CovId-19.
In particular, I want to welcome the beginning Principals who embarking on their new role in 2022. I wish you every joy and success with your new community and please stay connected to CaSPA.
To the Principals changing schools – my very best wishes to you in your work with your new community.
This year the CaSPA Board is looking forward to the further development of the CaSPA Website and providing an in depth analysis of the Principals’ Survey conducted late last year. In addition, the CaSPA Board will be developing a new Strategic Plan and an updated Constitution. Further news about these developments will be included in our newsletters and on the CaSPA website. Please join CaSPA as a follower on Twitter and Linked In too for other updates.
I would draw your attention to the ATWD Teacher workforce characteristics report released in mid December. This is very important information and has huge implications for future planning and workforce needs. I would commend AITSL on this work and seek your views on the findings.
An interesting piece of data that may resonate - “ Principals spend 89% of their time on non-face-to-face teaching, 9% on face-to-face teaching tasks and 2% of their time on other undefined tasks. “
At present, it seems that 2022 will be affected by Covid-19 but in different ways to the last two years. I can assure you that all National Principal associations, through the advocacy of the Coalition of Australian Principals (CAP), have requested all governments to consult with our associations before making decisions about schools. Sadly, this still appears to have been ignored again! I hope the challenges before us are able to be worked through so that our students and communities can thrive and stay healthy.
In conclusion, please keep the CaSPA Conference Dates in your calendar. All going well, the conference will be a great opportunity to finally spent time with colleagues and be a great celebration of our work in Catholic Education.
God’s Blessing to all,
Can Bad Managers Become Great Leaders?
The short answer is yes—if they take the right steps to curb counterproductive behaviour.
January 6, 2022
Science confirms what many executives already know: that good leadership goes deeper than being smart, skilled and visionary.
The true influence of a great leader can be measured only by their impact on others. After all, a leader’s behaviour directly affects the energy of their people: in one study, 59% of people said their leader has the largest influence on their personal energy. So the less constructive leaders’ behaviours are, the worse their organizations will perform.
What a leader does—and how they do it—has real consequences for their bottom line. And toxic bosses, research shows, can have wide-ranging negative effects on a business, leading to nearly $24 billion in healthcare costs and productivity lost.
Good leadership requires self-control, emotional energy and effort. The combination of job-related stress, and the energy and effort required for self-control results in what scientists call “chronic power stress”: the accumulated weight of responsibility for the success and failure of organizations and their people. Often, the more senior the role, the heavier this burden becomes.
Without a doubt, leadership is a stressful role. Chronic stress is a mainstay of the position, with acute stress punctuating the experience. In response to this stress, some leaders hit their stride. For other leaders, studies find, it can be a catalyst for counterproductive work behaviour that goes against the legitimate interests of an organization. In the extreme, stress can trigger hostile verbal and non-verbal behaviours from leaders and supervisors toward employees.
Effective leaders know how to strike the balance between being firm and being fair, especially in times of high stress. Instead of buckling under pressure, these leaders use this stress to fuel their purpose and propel positive action. In turn, they foster positive work climates that, research shows, can increase productivity, innovation and motivation—potentially up to 30% on the bottom line.
But why do some leaders act the way they do? It turns out there may be, in part, a neurological explanation. Scientists studying the relationship between well-being and leadership found that the brain’s prefrontal cortex (or PFC) plays a key role in the quality of leadership behaviour—and whether or not leaders behave badly.
Dysfunctions in the prefrontal cortex can be either more “chronic” or situational. Acute stress, like sudden executive turnover, may disrupt typical PFC functioning, causing negative actions such as handling emotions poorly or shifting to autopilot. In cases of “chronic” dysfunction, this can result from genetic predisposition, traumatic brain injury, adverse early life experiences or chronic stress.
The PFC supports our leadership skills and social behaviours. It also contributes to a wide variety of cognitive functions—focusing attention, anticipating cause-effect relationships, managing emotional reactions, planning, impulse control, mental flexibility. The parts of the PFC come together to integrate new social and environmental information with existing priorities, come up with adaptive behavioural plans based on that input, and regulate the emotions and behaviours needed to carry out those plans. One group of researchers showed that disrupting the right PFC increased risk-taking behaviours and caused people to be less likely to punish the unfair behaviour of others.
How stress impacts the structure, function and connectivity of the PFC may influence how leaders act. The prefrontal cortex predicts counterproductive behaviour due to its role in inhibiting inappropriate and automatic responses, people’s capacity for self-control, and how people interpret emotionally charged situations and information. So, when neural executive control is functioning below optimal levels, it is more than likely that leaders are, too.
The PFC is critical to helping a boss become what we envision effective leaders to be: level-headed, organized, efficient, forward thinking and fair. It’s no wonder that it is part of the “executive network”: when the PFC is not functioning optimally, leaders and organizations can suffer.
Leaders can address—and change—counterproductive behaviour. For some leaders, the road to better behaviour may be building a mindfulness practice, like paying attention to your breath. For others, it may be prioritizing time with friends and family when away from work. Leaders can also reduce stress and improve behaviours by making relaxation a part of their daily routine—writing in a journal, stretching every morning, making time for hobbies. By focusing on rest, leaders can prevent themselves from getting pushed to the edge in the first place.
Ultimately, what we have, neurologically, is neither predetermined nor permanent. We can shape and reshape our behaviours at a cellular level. What it takes is thoughtful intention. Leaders can tackle their behaviours head-on, taking deliberate steps to confront and correct counterproductive actions.
It’s never too late to become the best version of ourselves. Neuroscience is showing us how to do just that.
Amelia Haynes is an associate researcher at the Korn Ferry Institute, Korn Ferry’s innovation center.
- CESF Meeting – Scheduled for mid-February and continue key Agenda items included staffing of Rural and Remote schools and the effects of COVID around Australia.
- Perth Conference Meeting with CSPA (WA) and CEWA Conference Committee with more information to be release early this Term.
- Rebranding of CaSPA Website – Work has commenced and the format of the contents will be updated during 2022.
CaSPA welcomes 3 new Board Directors for 2022:
- Rhett Bowden (O’Loughlin College, Darwin)
- Annette Morey (Mater Dei College, Edgewater)
- Andrew Kuppe (Parade College, Bundoora)
- CaSPA collaboration with ACPPA – The associations will continue to work closely together during 2022 especially in the area of Principal Wellbeing.
- CaSPA Board Meeting (February) – Agenda items include the CaSPA Constitution will be evaluated by Russell / Kennedy Lawyers during 2022 and meeting dates for 2022 confirmed.
- PIVOT Survey – Results and findings of the Survey is being collated and CaSPA Board looks forward to releasing the results during 2022. Many thanks to all the Principals who were able to take the time to respond.
Profiles of all the CaSPA Board are available on the CaSPA Website: https://caspa.schoolzineplus.com/current-and-past-board-members
The Practice of Story Stewardship
Written by Brené Brown - December 05, 2021
ADAPTED FROM ATLAS OF THE HEART
I’m going to start by acknowledging that I’ve been wrong about something for years. For two decades, I’ve said, “We need to understand emotion so we can recognize it in ourselves and others.” Without exaggeration, I’ve said this thousands of times, and I’ve heard it from other researchers at least that much. Well, let me go on the record right now: I no longer believe that we can recognize emotion in other people, regardless of how well we understand human emotion and experience or how much language we have.
Why have I stopped believing that we can recognize emotion in other people? Two reasons:
- Too many emotions and experiences present the exact same way. There’s no way to know through observation if your tears come from grief, despair, hopelessness, or resentment, just to name a few. Absolutely no way.
- While research shows that there are some universal facial expressions for a small number of emotions, how we express what we’re feeling and experiencing can be as unique as we are.
So how do we know what other people are feeling? We ask them. It’s only then that we are able to connect with the grounded confidence to engage and the courage to walk alongside. When they tell us what they’re feeling, what happened, what they fear or desire, we listen and we become trusted stewards of their stories.
Story stewardship means honoring the sacred nature of story—the ones we share and the ones we hear—and knowing that we’ve been entrusted with something valuable or that we have something valuable that we should treat with respect and care. We are good stewards of the stories we tell by trusting them to people who have earned the right to hear them, and telling them only when we are ready. We are good stewards of the stories we hear by listening, being curious, affirming, and believing people when they tell us how they experienced something.
This is a good moment to pause and introduce the Buddhist concept of the near enemy. University of Texas researcher Kristin Neff writes that the concept refers to “a state of mind that appears similar to the desired state—hence it is ‘near’—but actually undermines it, which is why it’s an enemy.” “Far enemies,” on the other hand, are the opposite of emotions or experiences. What’s interesting is that near enemies are often greater threats than far enemies because they’re more difficult to recognize.
The near enemy of practicing story stewardship is performing connection while driving disconnection. Performative connection means that we’re acting interested or invested, but there’s more going on under the surface that’s really driving disconnection and separation. The issues that most of us struggle with are being the knower, advice-giving, and problem-solving. Problem-solving is tough because some people do want help. The best story stewardship in these moments is just to say, “I’m grateful that you’re sharing this with me. What does support look like? I can listen and be with you, I can help problem-solve, or whatever else you need. You tell me.”
The greatest threats to story stewardship are the two near enemies of building narrative trust: narrative tap-out and narrative takeover. Rather than building trust by acknowledging, affirming, and believing, we shut people down when we experience discomfort or disinterest, or when we take over the narrative and make it about us or our perception of what happened.
Narrative tap-outs can range from subtle disinterest to complete shutdowns. If we had thought bubbles, they’d say, “This is too uncomfortable,” or “I don’t care enough about you to care about this,” or “I can’t take this on right now.” If the reason we’re tapping out is the latter, it’s so much better to say that than to diminish someone’s story.
It sounds weird, but we can tap out of sharing our own stories too. Often this is about a lack of grounded confidence that our stories matter or a lack of self-trust about when and how we share them. Tapping out of stewarding someone’s story can feel like betrayal, and tapping out of sharing our own story feels like betraying ourselves.
Narrative takeover is a huge problem in our world. It impacts one-on-one conversations and cultural conversations. Rather than being good stewards of a story, we hijack the story and center ourselves. That centering takes many different shapes, including shifting the focus to us, questioning or not believing what someone is sharing because it’s different than our lived experience, or diminishing the importance of an experience because it makes us feel uncomfortable or, worse, complicit.
When we reject the truth of someone’s story—the ultimate failure of story stewardship—it’s often because we’ve stealthily centered ourselves in their story, and the narrative takeover is about protecting our ego, behavior, or privilege. The less diverse our lived experiences, the more likely we are to find ourselves struggling with narrative takeover or narrative tap-out.
A cultural example of narrative takeover is the Black Lives Matter movement. This is a life-affirming accountability movement to call attention to the violence being perpetrated against Black people. But rather than listening, learning, and believing the stories of injustice, systemic racism, and pain, groups of white people centered themselves with “all lives matter” and “blue lives matter.” There was never a narrative of “white lives and police lives don’t matter” in this movement. This was an attempt to, once again, decenter Black lives and take over the narrative.
Like empathy, story stewardship is not walking in someone else’s shoes, it’s being curious and building narrative trust as they tell you about the experience of being in their own shoes. It’s about believing people when they tell you what an experience meant to them. The far enemy of narrative trust is fueling narrative distrust and diminishing the humanity of others and ourselves. Why ourselves? Because when we are reckless with people’s stories, we diminish our own humanity.
Stay awkward, brave, and kind.
2022 CaSPA Awards and Scholarships
The Scholarship applications closed on the 30th October. We will publish the successful applicant in due course.
The 2 Awards close on February 28th 2022 and we encourage you to apply by clicking on the below link.
CaSPA is very proud to announce the launching of the 2022 Scholarships and Awards.
Nomination Forms have been sent to all State and Territory Catholic Principal Associations and can be viewed at the following link on the CaSPA website: https://caspa.schoolzineplus.com/introduction
Please remember that all awardees to be eligible are expected to attend the 2022 Conference to receive their award in person.
Project Compassion ‘For All Future Generations’ reminds us that the good we do today, will extend and impact the lives of generations to come. Register now for a live Caritas Q&A with your class and explore the variety of resources available. This year we are featuring stories from Mozambique, India, Australia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Solomon Islands.
Register a class for a live Caritas Q&A with Caritas staff and partners (30 mins)
For all resources including teacher handbooks, student workbooks, PPTs, videos, interactive images, and prayer and reflection resources, visit lent.caritas.org.au
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