All leaders are trying to create change to improve their schools, but so often the fundamental point of the change is missing, which leads to so many change efforts falling by the wayside. Every change that is made, even the smallest ones, should be accompanied by an explanation of why the change is taking place. This makes a great deal of sense if the change is urgent and you are trying to call the troops to action.


Simon Sinek presents a great talk calling for more focus on the why, as opposed to the how and the what. When making change, perhaps we need to remind ourselves to be 5 year old children again inquiring why the world is the way they see it. All too often the ‘Why?’ is not explained, as it considered that people understand the reasoning and can work it out for themselves. This does not tend to be the case and whether the reasoning is emotional or logical it is crucial to explain our actions. Also, by presenting why the change is being made or why something needs to be done in a particular way, it allows us to consider the questions that may come from those affected and acknowledge these questions in accounting for the proposed action(s).

In fact preparing for all the different questions that may arise from your staff as to why a change is taking place will help you demonstrate an understanding and consideration of the different viewpoints that may be present in your school and show that you know your staff.

Next time you start a change movement, picture that little 5 year old child asking: “Why?”


Published by Richard Bruford

Richard is currently Secondary School Principal of Suzhou Singapore International School, one of China's leading international schools. He leads workshops across the Asia-Pacific region for the International Baccalaureate in the areas of pedagogical leadership and approaches to teaching and learning. Richard consults with schools on the topics of school improvement and effective implementation and use of technology. With a background in public and independent school education in the UK and Australia, Richard is enjoying his international school adventure in China. He is passionate about developing and supporting educational leaders, as it is essential to improving all schools. Richard is a proud family man and feels lucky to be married to Kim and father of their son Austin. In his spare time Richard enjoys to swim, bike and run and is a now retired football player and coach (with occasional guest appearances)

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