Do you have a clear vision for what your school or department needs to do to improve? Can your colleagues articulate that vision? Are they as committed to it as you are? If you answered yes, yes, yes there is a strong chance that you are a transformational leader. The The iAbacus Model and process are designed to help support and sustain transformational leadership.
What is Transformational Leadership?
Alongside similar prefixes – distributed, shared flat – transformational leadership is a proven approach to sustainable improvement because it ensures improvement lasts and is self-generating.
Transformational leaders help organisations thrive by developing people and identifying powerful systems and procedures. They inspire colleagues by describing a clear vision, together with the practical plans that make it a reality. They understand how to build the organisation’s capacity for growth by motivating, maximising the potential and harnessing the commitment of all in the organisation.
How does iAbacus support and develop my Transformational Leadership?
Unusually and deliberately, iAbacus combines the emotional intelligence required in effective self-evaluation, coaching and mentoring with the rigours of criterion referenced inspection and review. For those not yet familiar with the iAbacus process it might be a good idea to watch a short video of the iAbacus process in action here and, or read the iAbacus process described here.
A unique feature of iAbacus, which goes to the heart of transformational leadership, is that it respects and credits the user’s perspective as the most valid starting point. It does this by first by requiring you to:
- make a judgement by sliding a bead to indicate, “Where I am now” on a scale of performance measures. This pinpoints your priorities for development.
This harnesses professional nous, practical intelligence and considered view.
The next steps in the process follow logically as you, perhaps in collaboration with colleagues, review set criteria. This double-checks and validates your initial judgement by asking you to align it with established criteria for the area of work.The next step focuses on providing key evidence to justify your judgement.
For many years, in English schools, these first three stages comprised a required “Self-Evaluation Form” (SEF) and many came to see this as separate to their School Improvement Plan (SIP). The feature of iAbacus that makes it classic transformational leadership is the seamless way self-evaluation leads directly into action planning. The iAbacus, links the SEF and SIP. So, the next stages are:
- analysing factors that helped and hindered progress and might help and hinder improvement in the future. Prioritising those with most potential to make a positive difference leads to
- planning and taking actions, the final stage. Prompted by a detailed planning format the iAbacus process harnesses the helping and hindering forces, in order for the individual, team, or school to move closer to higher levels of performance.
These five simple steps complete the first cycle of school improvement and so, over time, you return to the first stage to make updated judgements about improvement. The iAbacus automatically records these, both visually and evidentially, tracking and demonstrating the effect of your leadership over time. It can also generate reports detailing a range of this information.
And what about the transformational leadership of middle leaders and staff?
Staff capacity is a crucial driver of sustainable improvement. So, how does iAbacus empower this? First, by deploying iAbacus you are ensuring that all colleagues, especially new colleagues, are coached into a common language, common purpose and common approach to school improvement. Every time you share your own work and use the iAbacus process or disseminate the outcomes (reports, printouts, plans, surveys etc) you are reinforcing one deceptively, simple model and process.
Second, and uniquely, each Abacus template (and there are over 50 in the iAbacus software), is pre-populated with detailed success criteria. You can rely on the fact that all established criteria are updated within the system whenever required. This is a huge piece of work and one less worry for you. This gives you and colleagues immediate access to precise measures related to the area of focus at the very point you need it.
Colleagues are reminded about measures of their success. Criterion are check-points for the judgements colleagues make, prompts for the evidence they will choose and, in the planning stage, key indicators of success. The higher criterion are, in effect, vision statements.
Critically, iAbacus allows editing and modification of the criteria to tailor it to the specific needs and context of the individual organisation. Third and significantly, for Transformational Leaders, a key function in the iAbacus process is:
- collaboration and dissemination. This turbo-charges the community of practice within and across schools by making it easy to disseminate and discuss improvement measures. One of the powers of the “anywhere, anytime, any-device” on-line iAbacus is how reports, evidence and ideas can be sent across the school, across the world even, on touching “Send”. Users can share, compare and edit their abacuses and reports using the unique collaboration feature.
So, there we have it. Transformational Leadership and The iAbacus process have much in common. They feed off each other. Both are distinguished by key concepts recognisable in the modern literature of school improvement. Triptychs that leaders lust for are built into iAbacus: success criteria, vision, objectives – inspiration, commitment, motivation – collaboration, sharing, involvement and, of course, confident, enhanced, performance.