Education Leadership – It’s all about learning

Education serves as the foundation block of human society. It is a dynamic process, and education can be received from a variety of institutions all over the world. Education has seen numerous changes through the centuries and is an ever-evolving field constantly facing new challenges. Educational institutions aim at providing structured learning to develop knowledge and skills along with the holistic balance for overall growth, enabling the individual to lead a successful life. Various institutions operate to provide age-appropriate education to kids and adults.

Who is an education leader?

A leader in education is one that other educators look up to for guidance, direction, and example. An educational leader serves as a guide in an organizational setting. They operate either as sole leaders or as a team of education administrators. An education leader plays a pivotal role in determining the reputation and climate of the school. Learning communities function and thrive under the direction and vision of their leader.

What common traits make a successful (and influential) leader?

Unlike management leaders, the challenges that education leaders face are unique and diverse. There is no other industry with such constant learning as the education industry.

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality”

Education leader creates opportunities, supports processes and empowers educators. Here are some of the typical traits found in an inspirational, educational leader:

  1. An education leader is a lifelong learner
  2. An innovator, has vision and is a planner
  3. Expert in utilizing data and resources
  4. Leads by example
  5. They create collaborative, inclusive learning environments
  6. High emotional quotient and critical decision maker
  7. Has a positive and can-do attitude
  8. Excellent communicator and problem solver
  9. Empowers educators and promotes the development of leadership skills 
  10. Pivotal in community building and transpiring the values, philosophy, and ethos of the educational institution through the community

The list above is not exhaustive. 21st-century leaders operate in complex environments and are expected to be active facilitators of change.

“Change is an opportunity to do something amazing”

Education leaders must possess an in-depth understanding and knowledge of the communities’ learning requirements. In a heavily media-saturated society, the dynamism and rapidly changing education requirements are unpredictable. Still, education leaders are responsible for preparing learners for the future. Effective leaders tend to develop learning strategies focusing on the future while analyzing current education trends.

What leadership models are valid in education?

While various leadership models are adapted from the business world to the educational, theories and models regarding the role and function of education leaders have been reformed and remodelled to echo the change over time.

Here are a few of the leadership models applicable to the education sector:

Transactional leadership

Transactional leadership centres around rewards and punishments and these are made very clear from the beginning with straightforward job descriptions and expectations. The leader allocates work, and the subordinate is solely responsible for it.

Transformational leadership

This form of leadership allows dreams to take shape. A transformational leader develops a vision and implements it while taking care of their employees and giving them ample opportunity to succeed.

Servant Leadership

The servant leader puts the interest and needs of others first. The leader would share power, delegate, improve, and work for the benefit of the less privileged.

Laissez-faire Leadership

This leader’s involvement in decision-making is minimal because they allow people to make their own decisions. For this leadership style to be successful, the employees must have integrity and be self-driven.

Take a look at our list of 100% online master’s degree programmes and see if we have anything you are interested in doing.

You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on the programme that is right for you, the application process, and details on discounts we might be offering at this time.

5 reasons you feel stuck in your career

From early childhood, we start idolising people – our parents, grandparents, teachers, aunts and uncles, pop stars, a pilot, cops or firefighters. As soon as we are old enough to understand what each person around us does for a living, we start either liking or disliking it. Subconsciously, our minds begin making choices about which ‘profession’ we would like to venture into and which we dislike. We are also groomed (or maybe forced in some cases) to choose a career path that is traditionally high paying and secure.

But eventually, I guess we all choose something that we like doing or that we are good at.

I know I could just end the blog here and say ‘happily ever after’ went our careers. But sometimes, no matter how wisely we choose a career or job for ourselves, there may arise a standpoint when you start feeling stuck in that job. In simple words, feeling stuck in a situation where you seem not to be able to leave your present job but feel highly dissatisfied with work. The same mundane tasks you have mastered over the years do not offer any more learning or excitement, and you do not look forward to going to work.

While there can be numerous reasons why you may be feeling stuck at work, in my opinion, here are the top 5 reasons that might resonate with you:

1. Accepting a job role without understanding it entirely

At the time, you may have felt this job role was appropriate for you, something you always dreamt of doing. But eventually, you realise the position is much more or much less than you expected. The role does not fit like a glove but, in actuality, feels like a noose.

2.  $$$$ ruled

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When you signed on for the job, it offered a lucrative signing bonus with stock options and an unbelievable year-end bonus! It was too good to be true, and it was irresistible. It’s only when you started the job and over time that you realised the downside of all the ‘extra’ money you received. You might not feel that the money is not worth the time and effort you must put in. The work-life balance has only become a topic for discussion as you have not experienced a day without stress and pressure at work.

3. Outdated skillset

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Many people will agree that they achieve job satisfaction from not just the salaries and bonuses they receive, but greater satisfaction is realised when they see their meaningful contributions resulting in higher profits, efficiency, or global expansions. A continuous learning curve is a high point for many people to feel happy in their careers. If this is lacking and you think your skills are becoming redundant, dissatisfaction starts sinking in. You may feel worthless and lose confidence eventually in your skillset.

4. Not enough recognition at work

This is another factor that makes you feel stuck at work. Your work is not recognised, and your boss has been fending the next promotion and increment questions you have been asking for. Even after mastering the work and putting in time and effort, your job does not seem rewarding anymore.

5. Fear factor

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Change is not everyone’s cup of tea. Everyone is afraid of the unknown. Stagnation happens when you are fearful of making a move. You may be applying for a new job, but inside, you know you are stuck in the current job and unable to move. Not receiving any favourable response from job search also reinstates the lingering fear.

Our career is one of the most important aspects of our lives. Most of us spend the majority of our time, say 8-10 hours, at our jobs out of the 24 hours. You can follow a few simple steps to overcome this situation of feeling stuck at work. Stay tuned and check out this space for my next blog, five easy steps to break free and get unstuck in your career!

Art of overcoming writer’s block – 5 easy ways to conquer the fear of writing assignments 

Have you ever encountered writer’s block? Ever felt evasive when it comes to academic writing? Or procrastinate until the last-minute submission deadline?  

Do not worry. You are not alone. I have encountered writer’s block more often than I thought I would.  

What are the main reasons one feels anxiety about academic writing or writing in general?  

There could be several reasons for fear and anxiety. Here are some of the common causes:  

1. I am not a good writer 

This, hands down is one of the foremost causes of anxiety about writing. Not having confidence or faith in one’s writing skills can have a long-standing effect on a person. Having writer’s block could be misunderstood as the inadequacy of flair of writing. Sometimes we tend to compare ourselves with our fellow students or colleagues who seem very natural and good at writing. One may believe that no matter how much effort and hard work they put in, they can never attain perfection or good scores for the assignment.  

2. Writing is not my cup of tea  

It is expected that one refrain from practising things that we do not excel in or require additional effort. Writing may seem outwardly difficult (maybe impossible) and thus a time-consuming task. It can be challenging to stay motivated when an assigned task seems difficult!  

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3. Language resistance  

You will inadvertently feel uncomfortable writing in English if English isn’t your native language. One may not have adequate vocabulary built to express their ideas and thought processes.  

4. Lack of time  

We are all busy multi-tasking and juggling work, family, and studies simultaneously. There is always stress and fear if you will be able to finish and submit the assignments on time. And the situation could get worse if you are a procrastinator (like me…) who would always run out of time on assignments.  

Do you run out of time on submitting assignments? Photo credit: Canva.com

5. I lack knowledge 

There are high chances that you experience writer’s block if you are not well versed with the topic of the assignment or do not have a clear understanding. You will feel the pressure of necessity of correctness and formality inhibiting. You may seem lost trying to figure out where to start writing, lack original ideas and fear critical judgement if quality work is not delivered.  

While it may seem to be a grave issue, there are simple ways with which one can conquer the fear and anxiety of writing.   

Here are 5 simple ways:  

1. Follow 3 R’s of writing  

For effective writing, the first and foremost step is to follow the 3 R’s – Read, Research, Reread. When submitting assignments, one needs to be a pro on the topic. Knowledge is power. Read as much as you can from different sources. The more you research and read, the easier it will be to present your thoughts and ideas on the assignment topic. Visit various resources to solidify your thoughts before starting.  

2. Mind-mapping  

Once armed with the power of knowledge, practice mind-mapping. Start writing down ideas, create an outline and write bullet points. If you are more of a visual’s person, draw a flowchart of your ideas right from the introduction to the conclusion of the assignment. And then proceed to elaborate your thoughts on each of the points.  

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3. Start early  

Never add another stress point to an existing stress mix. If you feel you run out of time, always give yourself leeway and start well in advance of the assignment submission deadline. This will provide you with more time to read and research and brew your ideas.  

4. Practice makes perfect  

To overcome one’s fear, sometimes the best remedy is to face it head-on. Practice your writing on other subject related ideas and get in the habit of formulating and practising presentations. In due course, you will feel comfortable and develop positive writing experiences.  

5. Just start!  

Turn away from any distractions that are stopping you from accomplishing your goal. Simply start writing, no matter what and get yourself started on writing. When you achieve this first step, congratulate yourself and jump to the next step.  

I hope these easy five ways will help you overcome writer’s block. I know there are many other methods that might work or have worked better for you. Which method did you use?  Share some of the tips in the comments section below. 

The Subtle Art of Saying No

Ever wondered why we tend to say “yes” to people when we really don’t want to? Blame it on human psychology or human beings being social animals. We find it extremely difficult to say no to anyone.  

We adore attention and feel gratified when others admire us, trust and look up to us. But when this takes the form of constant requests and more work for yourself, you detest being the go-to person. People want to say yes because they are afraid, afraid to disappoint others. We feel personally responsible for letting others down if we decline their proposition or their request for help. During these troubled times, with businesses being in jeopardy, everyone is overwhelmed, constantly working, and juggling work and relationships. Everyone is over-extended, and it is not the best soil to grow ideas or make sound business decisions.  

Are you saying a “good yes” or a “bad yes”?

What begins as an intent to help becomes a bad “yes” – simply because you do not have the productive capacity or knowledge to complete the task. Such a “yes” is bound for failure. When there is so much asking around in an organisation and collaborative overload, one should focus on moving to good yesses and good nos to avoid failures.  

How to say No?  

You have decided that you are going to turn down someone’s request to undertake a task. Now comes the even more difficult part: actually saying “no”! How do you effectively communicate your decision?  

Begin with a positive statement by appreciating the opportunity extended your way, that you were considered worthy enough to do justice to the job. But present your “but” in a way that shows you have carefully considered the proposition and convey the “why” of your decision. Let them realise that you did not decide to say no lightly, that the “no” was not because you are lazy, un-zealous to learn, or simply being difficult.  

Saying no can be an onerous process but trust me, it will prove to be more productive for yourself and the business. Base your decision on this checklist:  

1.    Do not let fear decide  

If you fear that saying “no” will stress your work relationship, remember that saying “yes” when you cannot deliver the results will stress you and the relationship even more. If the working relationship turns sour just because you said “no”, then it was never meant to be. Let it go.  

A decision taken under duress leads to stress on oneself and on work relationships

2.    Evaluate the proposition  

I know from personal experience when we are new to an organisation or a job, we are eager to learn because knowledge is power. Gain that power but keeping in view the quality you are gaining. Ask yourself what ‘value addition’ can you get from this task. Ask questions such as why, when, and what is needed for the task. Doing due diligence on someone’s request is respecting them and yourself.  

3.   Remember what you want to be known for  

What may seem like an opportunity to learn for you could become an opportunity for others to learn a thing or two about you. When you say “no”, back it up with legitimate and fair reasons, tell them why the proposition is not worth your time or effort or simply that you do not have that kind of time to invest in this project. You already have enough on your plate. When the other person: your boss, your client, your colleague, hears your side of the story, they will understand your situation, and you will become known for your work ethics and values. You will be known for authenticity and for being a good decision-maker. Everyone will respect your decision when you say “no” the next time because they will know there is a genuine reason behind it, and it’s just not a lack of interest or laziness involved. They will even bring better propositions to you that you will find difficult to turn down. They will try to please you and not the other way round.  

When you say “yes” to someone’s request, you commit to executing and delivering results.

4.    Deliver results  

The only consideration that should drive your professional decisions should be results. When you say “yes” to someone’s request, you commit to executing and delivering results. You do not want to be in a position where you realise later that either you cannot, are not allowed to, or should not do so. Do not bite more than you can chew. Do not be hard on yourself thinking that you are being difficult. Convey that you are making a good business decision.  

5.    Provide options  

While it is not easy to say “no” to someone who had high hopes on your saying “yes” and was relying on you for completing the task, remember that people come to you because you are a problem-solver and are resourceful. If you cannot do the job yourself, give them other options on how to complete the job or provide solutions to resolve the issue. It will save your time and help build trust with team members that learnt something valuable when they approached you.   

You can also choose to defer the project instead of completely shutting it down. Offer them a plan where you can join the team at a later stage and be more valuable once the project’s gone past its conception stage.   

6.    Don’t be afraid to say the ‘C’ word  

The majority of the time, bosses try to use influence to get things done. Little do they realise that when they use power, they lose influence.  

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Every employer has a budget, and the more he can get done without expending his budget, the better (the lesser the merrier, in this case). This is one of the most frustrating and de-motivating situations when you are asked to deliver more results and but are not “C”ompensated for that extra work. You might say “yes” to the extra load now and then, just to be nice or on the pretext of learning something new, or simply because the boss asked you to do so, but this will eventually burn you out. Be firm to tell the work is simply beyond your pay scale and justifies an extra dollar or two.  

It is a misconception that you must be a “Yes Man” or a “Yes Woman” to be successful and boost your career. Remember Jim Carrey’s movie – Yes Man? The film is a classic story where the protagonist is encouraged and made to promise to answer “Yes!” to every opportunity, request, or invitation that presents itself. After a series of interesting events in his life, he realises that the covenant was merely a starting point to open his mind to other possibilities, not to permanently take away his ability to say no if he needed to.  

So, are you the go-to person at your workplace? Do you always end up saying yes? How do you strategically say no? 

The new age leader – a coach and a mentor

We live in a world of flux – a world where change is the only thing constant.  

I remember when I was a kid, my father would tell me about his job and the management style at his office. He worked in a semi-government organization where hierarchy and command-and-control leadership dominated. A more technically qualified and experienced leader would lead a team or a department and evaluate each team members’ performance against a pre-set benchmark. Little or no importance was laid on developing the skill-sets of employees or encouraging innovation.  

Fast forward 20 years, the leadership styles shifted dramatically. The existing (ancient, in my opinion…) management styles were not sustainable and organizations begged for a radical transformation; transformations that would inculcate new energy, ideas, motivation, commitment, and innovation. 

Leaders are expected to step up and assume the role of a coach and a mentor

Types of coaching styles 

Coaches come from a variety of backgrounds. Having a consultant coach from outside the organization could be helpful for developing specific skills or as a one-off motivational camp. A modern learning organization would invest in a coaching style appropriate to the needs of the company. Keeping in view the long-term goals, the leaders within the company are expected to step up and fulfil the need of the hour – the need to assume the role of a coach and a mentor.  

The leader may adopt one of the many leadership styles, with some of the most popular being: 

  1. Democratic: This style as the name suggests, encourages the general principles of democracy and takes into consideration the opinions, ideas, and interests of the people involved.  
  1. Laissez-Faire: This style is the minimum leadership style when the team members operate at their maximum efficiency and vigor and do not require any supervision or direction.  This is generally seen as inefficient, and depends largely on the ability of the teams to self-manage and self-regulate. Not recommended.
  1. Directive: Quite contrary to the Laissez-Faire coaching style, directive leadership requires the leader to ‘tell’ people what is expected of them, assign necessary resources for successful completion of their job, and convey the expected results as well.  
  1. Holistic: No organization today operates in isolation. Businesses are global and companies all over the world are taking wholesome decisions for the greater good. This leadership style recognizes the connection between leader, follower, and organisation, and focuses on a people-in-environment and developmental approach. 

Mentor or a Coach 

People usually use the term coaching and mentorship interchangeably. This is not correct. Mentoring is offering advice based on knowledge, expertise, and experience. Coaching, on the other hand, is inquiry-based. A little push with insightful questioning can spark a person to see themselves and the world differently and solve their own challenges. 

Mentoring is more formal and structured, where a mentor helps his mentee gain a broader and deeper perspective and understanding of the business (and life). A mentor, based on his own experiences, guides and channels mentees by illuminating the right path for them. It is, therefore, more directive in nature and could be related to a directive leadership style. Mentors offer exposure and connections to other functions and levels of the organization.

A coach supports, challenges, and encourages. A coach approach for leaders, on the other hand, uses very different techniques for developing people. The role involves asking and listening rather than knowing and telling. The coach empowers the employees, by making them fully capable of finding their own answers to their problems. Employees have more self-awareness and experience an increased performance.  

Now, this is easier said than done. While leaders may recognize the need to embrace the idea of coaching and mentoring their employees and subordinates, the flair does not come naturally to every leader. However, using right set of tools and resources, anyone can become a seasoned coach. 

Using right set of tools and resources, anyone can become a seasoned coach. 

Our MBA in Coaching, Mentoring, & Leadership programme creates opportunities for you to develop through practice a range of coaching and mentoring skills and techniques and enables the development of a critical understanding of issues related to the design and implementation of coaching and mentoring schemes. The programme is delivered in such a way that you are encouraged to utilise your professional and work-based context as a resource in which to practice and develop your skills in coaching and mentoring. Feel like you could benefit from this? You are not alone! Apply now to join our more than 150 students currently taking the programme!

7 ways to improve your Critical Thinking

One of the things that I dislike about corporate culture is the many different terms that get thrown around to describe a logical and an otherwise common-sense action. Many managers and companies like to create new terms and abbreviations for actions and rules they have incorporated. However, the thing is, the more popular terms like ‘critical thinking’ are still around for a reason – they work.

The word ‘critical’ might have a negative connotation, and you might wonder – “What is the point of thinking negatively?” But where ‘critical thinking’ actually helps is in understanding all the flaws in an argument or a decision, counter or correct the process, and finally arrive at the stated objective. 

Critical Thinking is: Independent Thinking + Information Analysis = Arriving at a Judgement

What do critical thinkers do?

They think, they question, they do not accept everything at face value, using their ability to reason and to solve problems through logical reasoning. This is why most employers would be keen to employ critical thinkers because they are the catalyst that will propel the company forward. 

So, what can you do to become a more critical thinker? 

Ask questions
  1. Asking questions – Don’t be afraid to question everything, don’t take anything at face value. Ask:
    1. What are you trying to achieve?
    2. How have you arrived at this conclusion or decision?
    3. How would I know what you have told me is accurate? Show me the proof and explain it to me.
    4. What might you have missed out or overlooked?
  2. Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups – One of my majors during graduation was physics, and one of the things I disliked was the proof of every theory started with “Assume…..”, which is why we used the headline of this point as our motto during physics class. But leaving our childish assumptions aside (because who are we to question some of the greatest scientific minds ever), in our mundane lives assuming things will just make an ass out of you and me (ass-u-me). So, question all assumptions. 
  3. Self-reflecting – Critical thinkers must be able to reflect on themselves. Ask yourself if your beliefs are based on logic or emotions. Don’t be afraid to take a step back and analyse your decisions or belief, recognising if you have any bias and if it played a role in your decision-making process.
  4. Listening – When you discuss something with someone, don’t get ahead of yourself and start thinking, but listen to their point of view. Only once you hear and understand their point of view can you have enough data to analyse and evaluate, and offer alternatives if required. 
  5. Understanding the motive – Understanding the motives behind the source of the data you are basing your decisions on is essential because the data will always be skewed towards the source’s beliefs. For example, in the US media, the same story on President Donald Trump or President Joseph Biden will be covered in a completely different way by Fox News and CNN. That is why you have to question what you are being told. 
  6. Researching – Today, we are blessed with endless sources of information, and all of them easily accessible. Do your research taking advantage of all these sources of information and use your critical thinking to arrive at the best decision possible. 
  7. Keep an opened mind – So, you looked at data from multiple sources, applied critical thinking, and arrived at a conclusion. But still, going into a discussion with the assumption that you are right is wrong. As mentioned in point number four, if you assume you are right and are not listening, you will fall into point number two.

Learning to develop your critical thinking skills will go a long way in helping you analyse data and arrive at the best decision possible more often than not. Comment below if you know any other way in which we can develop critical thinking skills, we would love to hear from you!

Analyse data to arrive at decisions

Our online master’s degree management programmes help you become a better leader, and master’s degrees, in general, will help you in developing your critical thinking skill. Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our education advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, the application process, and information on discounts we might offer.

#DILO (A day in the life of) a master’s student – Beatrice

Through the #DILO series of blog posts we have been bringing you insights into the life of our master’s students, sharing their thoughts and opinions, ups and downs, and key learning points during their online studies. The whole idea behind this series is to make you aware of realities of online studies, and help you in decision making.  

This week we take a look at a day in the life of our MBA student Beatrice. Beatrice is an electronics engineer with over 19 years of experience working in IT. She is currently studying for the MBA in Management Consulting, offered through our exclusive partnership with York St John University, UK, and working for an American company as an IT Project Manager. Along with handling a full-time job and a master’s programme, Beatrice manages a busy household with a husband and two daughters. Here is an insight and some words of wisdom that Beatrice had to share from her own experience. 

With the MBA Management Consulting you gain an understanding of consulting techniques and develop a range of transferrable skills

An Introduction 

Which Uni are you studying with? 

York St John University (UK) 

Which programme did you choose and why? 

I chose the MBA in Management Consulting programme. It allows me to improve my knowledge and complete my profile as Project Manager. 

The Study Plan 

How did you plan to study each module, and what was the reality? How many hours did/do you have to put in each day/or in a week? 

Prepare a study plan and pick a time of the day that works best for you

I planned the modules to avoid overlaps and could make it as planned. It is important to allow at least four to five hours a day, 4 days a week. This can be increased to 5 hours a day when approaching assignment deadline. 

What part of the day did/do you find most suitable to study? (e.g. early mornings, lunch break, evenings, weekends?) 

Allow yourself enough time for each
assignment

What worked best for me were early in the morning and late in the evening, when there is no distraction (work, children, etc.) 

How much time did you devote for each assignment? 

Generally, 4 to 5 days. Sometimes more, depending on the topic. 

Travelling and Communication 

How did travelling impact your ability to study? 

When travelling, other activities make it more difficult to find the required hours to study 

How were you able to interact with peers and/or professors given the time differences? 

We used e-apps that allowed delayed interactions (email, campus portal, WhatsApp). 

A typical day as a master’s student 

What does a typical day as an Online Masters’ student look like for you? 

1. Spend 2 hours early in the morning, reading and watching class videos  

2. Spend 1 hour at lunch time to review and make some researches  

3. Spend 1 to 2 hours at late evening to write or complete researches 

‘Research’ is an important aspect of Master’s studies. Learn to research effectively.

Any advice? 

It is important to have:  

1. The support of your entourage  

2. A schedule that includes your studies, work and personal activities, even leisure. Follow it as much as possible  

3. A contingency plan 

Well indeed, incredibly helpful advice from Beatrice. A contingency plan not only saves you from an unpredictable situation but also helps you follow your study plan with confidence. To get you through the master’s studies we have a great faculty who are subject-matter experts, guide and encourage the students to achieve their potential.  

If you have been dreaming of joining a master’s programme or have had this personal goal to gain a higher education, now is the time! Take the valuable advice from our current students, gain from their experience, add your own unique study strategies, and make your own success stories! I would love to feature you one day on our college blog. 

Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering at this time.