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Leadership Professional Development for Educators

Taking Professional Development for Teachers to the Next Level


e are always delighted when teachers accompany their students to a GRIP Student Leadership Conference and at the end of the day walk out with a genuine spring in their step stating, “I got as much out of

today as the students did!” Others have thanked us at the end of the day and suggested, “You should run days like this just for teachers.” So we have! Our new annual conference for educators is called the ‘GRIP Leading & Teaching Conference’. In 2013 we trialed this event running a handful of conferences, attended by over 400 teachers. After the succes of this experiment we made the deision to create a brand new program each year and make the GRIP Leading & Teaching Conference an annual event. We set out to make this conference for educator exponentially different to other professional development days by building the day on three key factors:

1. Wide Variety of Participants

A new way of viewing leadership...

“The GRIP team presented a thoughtprovoking and inspirational day. I am returning to my school re-charged with a new way of viewing leadership.” Dianne Cowderoy Sherwood Ridge PS, Sydney

Many teachers are familiar with the normal model of attending PD days wit others from the same school, the same system, the same teaching specialty or the same experience level. However, this conference brings together teachers and educators of all ages and school types. Because the focus of this conference is on leadership principles that run deeper than any single context much can be learned by sharing with other educators from entirely different settings.

2. Practical and Interactive Round table seating, guided discussions and opportunities for participant input create an environment of conversation and interaction. The casual atmosphere and relaxed style of our presentations provide plenty of opportunities for discussion accompanying the content with a few good laughs. Geoff Strong, Chairman of GRIP Leadership

Leadership PD for Educators


3. Focussing on Unique Concepts This conference is not the place for exploring statistics, legislation, current jargon or fads. Each year the conference program will consist of a single theme that introduces new thoughts and practical application that enable teachers to genuinely increase their own leadership capacity as well as that of their students. The 2014 GRIP Leading & Teaching Conference is themed ‘Good to Great’ and is based on the research and publications of Jim Collins. Full details about conference sessions and online registration are available at

So many practical applications...

“An excellent program, it’s not very often you come across a PD that has so many practical applications. Well worth attending. Thank you.” Louise Judge, St Stephen’s School, Perth

grip LEADING & TEACHING A conference For Educators

Being held in 9 locations in 2014 16th June – Launceston TAS

19th June – Sydney NSW

24th June – Brisbane QLD

17th June – Melbourne VIC

20th June – Newcastle NSW

26th June – Adelaide SA

18th June – Canberra ACT

23rd June – Mackay QLD

27th June – Perth WA

Register now online at

Leadership PD for Educators


Great Schools Great Lives Will you settle for goodness or greatness?


s a young lawyer starting out in a legal career I was given some very sage advice by a much older and wiser solicitor who often used to say to me, “Near enough isn’t!” This advice given to me many years before ‘excellence’ became

the catch cry, challenged me to always bring my best to whatever I did.

“We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools... Few people attain great lives, in a large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life. The vast majority of schools, companies and people never become great, precisely because the vast majority become quite good – and that is their main problem... The good is the enemy of the great this is not just a business problem. It is a human problem.” Jim Collins, 2001

Leadership PD for Educators

I am sure you have written on a student’s report ‘...could do better’. Why do we often accept less than the best? Whilst there is much to be admired in our culture our concept of ‘she’ll be right mate’ or ‘near enough is good enough’ often inhibits us from deep fulfilment brought about by living a great life. In 2001 Jim Collins, published a book entitled ‘Good to Great’ which was the culmination of five years of research into the difference between ‘good’ companies and ‘great’ companies. His research demonstrated that a great school will:• Deliver superior performance relative to its mission. • Make a distinctive impact on the communities it touches. • Achieve lasting endurance beyond any leader, idea or set back. Great schools and great lives flourish – that is they fulfil their potential. How does this occur? We suggest the following principles for building a great school and great lives:-

1. People First Many schools begin with a clear vision and strategy statement. However great schools attend to people first and strategy second. People are important. Great schools get the right people ‘on the bus’ and move the wrong people off, that is, people who are in positions that are not fulfilling or not enabling them to achieve their potential are counselled to move on. People who are passionate about the school and are able to make a contribution to the team are invited to stay. This is true for us


People First





as individuals as well. We will never be fulfilled as individuals

in circumstances. Such persistence develops character. I

if we attempt to operate outside our gifting or abilities. I can

have been privileged to be the founding chairman of GRIP

recall as a young student seeking to earn some money during

Leadership and also the Halogen Foundation which conducts

the holidays of working as part of a team in a factory. My task

the National Young leaders Day. Both these organisations had

was to remove newly made cans from a conveyer belt using a

very small beginnings and it seemed for some time that a lot

specialty tool. I was totally inept at using the tool and this had a

of effort was being made with very little momentum. Having

major impact on the performance of the team who had quotas

started with just 97 students attending a conference in 2007,

to achieve. I was clearly the wrong person on the bus and soon

this year GRIP Leadership will see over 22,000 students attend

asked to leave both for my own sake and the sake of the team.

conferences through the length and breadth of Australia.

2. Promise

4. Passion

We must always speak the truth as to the exact circumstances

A story told by the philosopher and scholar Isaiah Berlin

we are confronting. Great schools confront the most brutal

described two approaches to thought and life using a simple

facts of their current reality yet simultaneously maintain

parable: the fox knows a little about many things but the

absolute faith that they will prevail in the end. You may recall

hedgehog knows only one big thing very well. The fox is

the story of the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ – no one would

complex; the hedgehog is simple. And the hedgehog wins. We

confront the truth and simply wish to deny it until a young boy

need to understand what are we truly passionate about and

said what everyone knew – ‘he has nothing on’ it is only when

what it is the school (or as an individual) we can be best in

we are realistic in our view of our school and ourselves that we

the world at? My friend and educator Dr Mark Strom suggests

can speak hope into our future. A vision for the future that is

this is what he calls ‘Brilliance’, the area in which we shine

built on a foundation that has not confronted the brutal facts of

- the thing that we are very best at and passionate about.

reality builds on an unstable foundation.

Great schools and great lives are systematic and consistent in

3. Perseverance Living a great life or becoming a great school does not

focusing on what they are passionate about and what they can be best in the world at.

happen overnight or in one big leap. This process resembles

5. Progress

relentlessly pushing a giant heavy flywheel in one direction. At

Great schools and great lives have an adherence to core

first pushing it gets the flywheel to turn once. With consistent

values combined with a willingness to challenge and change

effort it goes two turns, then five, then ten building increasing

everything except those values. We must keep clear the

momentum until – bang! –breakthrough momentum really

distinction between what we stand for (which should never

kicks in. Often we settle for second best. We never achieve

change) and how we do things (which should never stop

the kind of breakthrough momentum that those living great

changing) great lives and great schools continue to progress

lives or great schools can achieve. Many schools simply lurch

far beyond meeting key performance indicators. They translate

back and forth with radical change programs, restructuring

this purpose into BHAGS (big hairy audacious goals) to

or moves that are reactionary to circumstances. Often what

stimulate continued progress.

is needed is persistence at what we are doing with change

Leadership PD for Educators


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