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.
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.