Adrian Bosker Launceston Christian School Principal

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.
Adrian Bosker with Students
Adrian Bosker Launceston Christian School Principal

Hel­lo Adrian,

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.

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