I like tapping into posts from Leadership Freak, Dan Rockwell, who puts together some excellent posts about leadership for us to consider. A post titled – ‘Tapping the power of “For you”‘ caught my attention and got me thinking further about how we, as leaders, use the word, ‘You’, in our schools.

Considering my previous thoughts on this topic and also the notion of trying to give others ‘ownership’, as advocated in Rockwell’s post, the use of the word ‘you’ must be considered carefully by school leaders.

There is a fine line with using the “For you” to get ownership and it becoming divisive, furthering a gap between school leaders and teachers. While asking colleagues to “consider what that means for you” could well encourage teachers to take greater ownership of the problems that they face, there is a danger of losing a sense of the collective effort that can be attained through using “We”.

Essentially, I think, it depends on when and how we use the term ‘you’. Leaders should consider this carefully in order so that opportunities to create ownership and boost staff morale do not become moments where colleagues feel they are isolated and having a finger pointed at them; potential situations for mixed messages.

Remember, everyone responds differently and context is everything.



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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