Feature Story: Drew Roberts

Our lat­est fea­ture arti­cle focus­es on the expe­ri­ences of Drew Roberts, Deputy Prin­ci­pal at Emmanuel Chris­t­ian School.

Drew recent­ly par­tic­i­pat­ed in the AIS Flag­ship Pro­gram and in this arti­cle, he reflects on the process and his learn­ings. The AIS Flag­ship oper­ates each year and pro­vides a rig­or­ous, holis­tic pro­gram for expe­ri­enced senior lead­ers and aspir­ing prin­ci­pals. Inde­pen­dent Schools Tas­ma­nia each year offers a half schol­ar­ship toward the cost of the pro­gram for a par­tic­i­pant from a Tas­man­ian inde­pen­dent school. The Nation­al Flag­ship Pro­gram design reflects the Lead­er­ship Cen­tre phi­los­o­phy that lead­er­ship is an ongo­ing inner and out­er jour­ney; of devel­op­ing self-aware­ness and deep­en­ing knowl­edge and skills of leadership.
Drew Roberts

Hel­lo Drew,

Please describe your expe­ri­ence in the flag­ship program?

My time in the pro­gram was unique in many ways. Start­ing in Decem­ber 2019, I had to defer in July 2020 due to COVID-19. I re-joined in Decem­ber 2020 and fin­ished in Sep­tem­ber of 2021. I believe I may hold the record for longest Flag­ship par­tic­i­pant! The course itself was intense but very reward­ing. There is a time com­mit­ment that adds to your exist­ing work and fam­i­ly life bal­ance. Before each face-to-face expe­ri­ence, we were required to read sev­er­al arti­cles and then write an aca­d­e­m­ic paper. This rekin­dled a pas­sion for read­ing and as a result, I have tak­en the time to engage in more pro­fes­sion­al reading.

What were your key learn­ings from this program?

It has been a jour­ney that has seen me ask ques­tions about, who am I, what do I believe, and what dri­ves me. It has helped me to dis­cov­er and under­stand my pur­pose in leadership.

Hav­ing had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to take part in the flag­ship pro­gram, has your per­spec­tive on lead­er­ship changed, and if so how?

Lead­er­ship is com­plex and it will con­tin­ue to become increas­ing­ly more com­plex as the nature of the world we live in con­tin­ues to change. As lead­ers, we need to be able to adapt the way in which we approach the chal­lenges pre­sent­ed to us and solve these issues with new ways of thinking.

What does lead­er­ship mean to you now? How would you apply what you have learned going forward?

Being authen­tic and inte­grous is cru­cial, if we are to mobilise our teams they need to buy into what our visions are. I want to become bet­ter at lead­ing change and grow staff to become the best they can be, ulti­mate­ly, improv­ing stu­dent outcomes.

Would you rec­om­mend this pro­gram to aspir­ing leaders?

I would most def­i­nite­ly rec­om­mend this pro­gram to all aspir­ing lead­ers. I have done oth­er cours­es but it is the aca­d­e­m­ic rigour involved with Flag­ship that sets it apart.

Are there any spe­cif­ic research papers or books you would rec­om­mend aspir­ing lead­ers read? What did you like about or learn from them?

Good books: Bill George — True North, Jim Collins — Good to Great, Patrick Lencioni — The five dys­func­tions of a team, The ide­al team play­er. All of these books I found helped me bet­ter under­stand myself and pro­vid­ed insight into how to bet­ter work along­side others.

Research papers: All up there were 60 read­ings that we were required to com­plete. My favourite arti­cles were always those writ­ten by Ronald Heifetz which focused on being an adap­tive leader and deal­ing with adap­tive challenges.

Any key insights into edu­ca­tion that you are par­tic­u­lar­ly moti­vat­ed by/​interested in at this time, and why?

Some­thing that I am moti­vat­ed by is mak­ing sure all stu­dents’ needs are met. As edu­ca­tors, we need to work col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly in cre­at­ing envi­ron­ments where stu­dents can devel­op con­fi­dence, skills and believe they have the abil­i­ty to suc­ceed after their school­ing days have finished.

Is there any advice that you would give aspir­ing lead­ers, as a result of your Flag­ship experience?

Read, ask ques­tions and find a mentor.

Some Key Takeaways:

1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

2. Immerse your­self in great literature

3. Find a men­tor to share the jour­ney with you

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