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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Constable

Things I Wish I Knew Before I Was A Director

In my life before OWNA, I worked in ECEC for 10 years - 3 of them as a director.

Making the switch from educator to director was a big step. And I knew it would be.

But nothing could have prepared me for some of the surprises I was met with in those first few weeks and months.

Having said that, if you're in the same position, here are some lessons I learned along the way...

1. Take It Slow

A common mistake new leaders make in any profession is that they come in and want to make huge changes straight away. They want to put their stamp on the service & tell everyone that the old way of doing things is gone.

But it's a lot to take on. Not just for you, but the rest of your team.

I'd suggest taking it slow in the first couple of months.

Focus on building relationships with families, children and the team. Getting to know the people at the centre will help the transition to a new environment.

Only once you've built those relationships should you introduce change - again, slowly.

2. Take Time to Understand the Centre

Similar to point 1, you can't go in and change things until you deeply know your service, routines and the environment.

You must make sure that the changes you make will have a positive impact on the service. This requires deep knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the centre.

3. Take Time to Understand the Team

In order to affect change that will be welcomed by your colleagues, you should take the time to understand what motivates, challenges & inspires them.

Understanding why each team member is there will help you know how to lead them as an individual and as part of a team.

Your first actions will be the ones that set the tone, so by taking the time to understand the team, you're ensuring that those first actions resonate with them and are well-received.

4. It Will Take Time to Gain Respect

Even after taking the time to get to know everyone, the jury may still be out. It's not going to be smooth sailing all of the time.

People can be very judgemental when you're promoted to a new position, and based on experiences with past leaders/directors, it can be hard to gain their trust.

As long as you go into the role with a genuinely helpful mindset, smile and give respect, you'll receive respect back. Even if it takes a little bit of time.

5. You Can't Please Everyone - So Stop Trying!

Everyone has an opinion. And not everyone is right.

So instead of trying to accommodate everyone's request, do what is right for the centre.

Having said that, you still need to base everything you do off of parent feedback and team reflections.

The balance is hard, but it's so important to get it right.

If you ignore everyone and do things 'your way', you'll come across as a dictator who doesn't listen.

If you take on every request, you'll lost the centre's sense of identity & burn yourself out.

To get this balance, you should make sure that everyone feels heard. But also let them know that you need to do what's in the best interests of the service.

BONUS Tip: Rely On Your Communities

There are tons of online communities on social media and beyond.

Feel free to join the OWNA Community for help from your fellow educators, directors and leaders. They're a super-helpful bunch!

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