Arnie Skelton on Leadership – PP50

Paul Dix
Paul Dix
Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne

Arnie Skelton joined us this week to talk about leadership.

With a background in Further Education teaching, Arnie branched out on his own in 1990 by setting up his own business and now works with various sectors on leadership, mentoring, coaching and a number of other development activities.

Arnie Skelton

Arnie starts with what leadership is. He wonders if leadership is a position, a set of qualities or both.

Positional leadership

He describes the concept of positional leadership as ‘headship’ – not a head teacher but the head of an organisation of any kind.

This creates a set of expectations – the leader sets the tone, provides clarity and sets the tone and direction in terms of core values and behaviours. The ‘head’ has to lead internally but also externally.

Distributed leadership

This can be seen as independent of anyone’s formal position or role. Anyone can be and perhaps should be a leader. In a teaching position you are modelling your behaviours to your students – you are leading by example. So it’s inevitable that we are all leaders.

Paul asks if educational establishments can run without the post of ‘Head’. Arnie believes they can. There are examples of distributed or team leadership where the team is very good at managing itself. There has to be a commitment to doing that and a shared set of skills. This won’t be the right model for all institutions, however. Some people like to be led.

Charisma vs. learning to lead

Paul asks how much can be learned in leadership. Arnie thinks some people are naturally more wired for leadership than others. A large part of what makes a good leaders can be acquired either formally or informally. Many great leaders say that their upbringing helped to form their leadership skills and style.

(Creative Commons Sound clip by Johnny Pixel Productions, Inc. –

Read the rest of the show notes on the Pivotal Education site.

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