Leadership Series: Adrian Bosker
The second in a series of leadership discussions with leaders from across the state
Drawing from years of experience and wisdom, the series will demystify leadership and provide valuable insight to educators starting their leadership journey. This time we were fortunate to have the opportunity to talk with Adrian Bosker, Principal of Launceston Christian School.
Can you please share with us the journey that led you into school leadership?
From an early age, being number 3 in a family of 4 boys, all skilled in most sports at different levels of competency, standing up for what you believe in, defending what you value most and learning to share success and failure humbly have been principles that naturally led to various positions of leadership in general. My parents were leaders, and my 3 other brothers were all called to positions of leadership, one in pastoring churches, one in the defence force and school principalship, all in Christian ministry.
Having attended local primary and secondary schools from Kinder to Year 10, my career goals at the time were an airline pilot or school teacher. A vocational guidance assessment at the end of Year 10 concluded that work in manual labour was more suited to me. I meekly followed the advice and an apprenticeship in the printing industry led to tradesman status, which led to foreman on the printing shop floor to production manager of a suburban newspaper. The desire to be a business owner called and my wife and I embarked on a period of running a small but successful printing business in Launceston. All the while the lure of a career in education was present. At the age of 35, I began a BEd in Primary Education at UTAS and worked at Scotch Oakburn Junior School for 9 years, Head of Junior School at Calvin Christian School for 10 years and am now in my 7th and final year as Principal at Launceston Christian School. I am beginning to see opportunities to nurture other leaders with the benefit of a broad leadership experience in various and diverse settings.
The nature and nurture influences for leadership have been foundational in this journey. Leading requires a complex set of competencies, but I would suggest that humility, confidence, hard work and caring for others more than yourself are key attributes for leadership in any setting.
What have been some of your key learnings about leadership over the years?
Set the example in your personal life that you expect from others.
Be willing to serve others. This does not mean that in your leadership role you need to model getting your hands dirty in some of the more servant hearted attributes all the time, (you’ll not be able to do that and lead as well) but it does mean that you show you are willing and able to get your hands dirty in any task that you ask of others. Eg pick up litter, do your turn at the BBQ, stay back and help clean up, etc.
Listen in the moment and give your full attention to the person or topic in front of you now. Many times we can be listening and our listening can quickly turn into crafting our response to a conversation than to listen with full attention before responding.
Body Language often speaks louder than our words. Practice the skills of making your body language disarming. Check your face for tightness and ask others you trust about your weak spots.
A word of encouragement in the right season is like gold to a relationship.
The longer I avoid a problem the bigger it generally becomes. If I summon the courage to endure small amounts of pain and do what is right early, I will avoid the larger doses of pain later.
Growth = Change, Change = Loss, Loss = Pain. Therefore Growth = Pain (from Leadership Pain, Samuel Chand)
What advice would you offer to aspiring leaders as they consider embarking upon a school leadership role?
Learn about the culture and context in the place you are called to lead.
Know and respect the structures that have been set up prior to you coming to your position. G.K. Chesterton famously wrote – “Before you tear down a fence, learn about why it was put there in the first place.”
Be prepared to read about the leadership journeys of other leaders you admire.
Like Taylor once wrote – “Don’t forget where you came from, but always remember where you’re going.” This will be a helpful principle when you are trying to understand the nuances that others think of your leading, those you are leading, those you are leading with and those leading you.
What do you think will be the key opportunities or challenges for schools in the years ahead?
In my humble opinion, the demands on human resources (read teachers) in Education, Primary and Secondary Schools in particular, are becoming burdensome. The vast majority of professionals in the Teaching and Learning spaces in our schools are expert educators with hearts of gold who desire to see our young people flourish and develop in the gifts they have been given, both overt and the latent ones. Navigating a way to harness the power of the creativity, wisdom, passion, imagination, inspiration and resourcefulness of these experts without crushing them with regulatory frameworks of compliance is the greatest challenge facing schools today. Here also lies the opportunity. Those who can find these ways and can demonstrate and articulate them within a Childsafe Framework will be in high demand world-wide.
What do you think some of the core traits of a great leader are and why?
Consistency – generates confidence in your leading and ensures that there is no favouritism
Empathy – helps to foster a deeper sense of commitment to a cause based on the knowledge and security that a leader cares and understands
Discernment – quality that helps make decisions that have been carefully considered and evaluated
Unflappable – oozes a confidence that the situation is under control and the leader won’t lose perspective on the bigger picture
Calm in a Crisis – people look for leaders who can safely navigate the waters ahead in a calm and rational way
Are there any further words of advice that you would like to share?
As a Christian and a leader, I spend time in devotional meditation each day before I get started on the business ahead of me.
The example of how Jesus Christ lived, treated and loved others is a model worth following.
Try hard to understand what it is like to be walking in the shoes of those you are leading and guiding. I used to have a virtual metaphoric pair of shoes hanging from the back of my office door. Now I have a real pair there, to remind me when I begin a meeting, that I need to understand their story before imposing my wisdom on them.