Sustaining emotional resilience in headship

In 2011/2012 I undertook research into what supports and what undermines emotional resilience for headteachers. Here is a summary of the findings:

  • Ninety-eight percent of those who responded to an online survey rated emotional resilience as ‘very important’ for headship
  • More spent time consciously focusing on developing resilience of their students than in looking after their own resilience
  • Irrespective of time in headship, those who made a conscious effort to look after their own health and wellbeing were more resilient than those who didn’t
  • Most headteachers do not take time to acknowledge their own achievements
  • Those new in headship are most vulnerable to fragile resilience.  They need most support when they are least confident concerning who they can trust to provide that support.
  • Resilience increases with time in the role, associated with knowing the job and being more effective at managing time
  • Acknowledging the possibility of failure supported resilience in some cases
  • The factor which most undermined individuals’ resilience was feeling unable to make a positive difference
  • Life experience, from childhood on,  has an impact on resilience
  • Feelings of self-worth have an impact on resilience
  • While many headteachers know there is a connection between attention to well-being and staying resilient, many fail to act on that knowledge

The research is shortly to be published as an article in School Leadership and Management