Ethical & Principled Leadership: Vision, Values, Voice & Virtue

I have been thinking, reflecting and discussing leadership a lot over the last few years. I have reflected on the leader I have become, the leader that I thought I would become and the future leaders who I want to develop and shape, staff and students alike. I have never liked labels nor boxes. I have always sat between ideologies and arguments, drawing on the aspects that resonate and disregarding the components that I am not aligned with.

I am not a conformist. I am a collaborator. I am not a game player. I do what is right, even when it makes me unpopular, and when it is challenging.  It has frustrated me over the years that I have worked with those who are territorial and do not appreciate the need for collaborative partnership and system leadership. It has frustrated me that I have worked with those who have focused on the outcomes, competing with each other and playing the system, rather than focusing on the process through which we achieve the outcomes.

We become teachers due to a moral imperative to serve. But, we have all watched teachers become leaders and shed their morals. We have seen the tipping point of leaders who ‘sell their soul to the devil’. We know there are high stakes. We know we are accountable. But, we also know that the system will never change unless we change it from within.

This is why the Headteachers Roundtable brings me hope. This is why Whole Education brings me hope. This is why the Leading Women’s Alliance brings me hope. This is why grassroots movements like #WomenEd and #BAMEed being me hope. Times are changing. Trailblazers are challenging the system. I have been inspired to my core in the last few weeks as I have engaged in the #GreatSchools annual conference for Whole Education, the #HTRTSummit, the #SeizingOpportunities summit and numerous Diversity Matters panels at #BETT17 and #Teach2017.

My core values are my compass point. They are my moral driver. They are also my engine room, as they sustain my energy levels to stay focused, to commit to the big picture, to keep going, even when the going gets tough.

With everything going on in the world right now. With everything going on in the UK right now. With everything going on in the education system right now. We need ethical, principled, values-led school leaders now, more than ever. When we lead with virtue, when values, voice and vision are aligned, then we lead authentically with integrity. This is the leader I am and will continue to be. These are the leaders I want to work with and want to shape.   Through my recruitment process for Aureus School I want to talent-spot the teachers and the leaders who want to work collaboratively, as a team, underpinned by their values. These are the leaders who are resilient and motivated for change as their values strengthen their conviction and their commitment.

I was looking for theory and research to underpin my believe in values-led leadership when Kerry Jordan Daus tweeted about Principled Leadership, a label I was not aware of. I did some research and found the below figure of the ‘4-V model’. Developed by Dr. Bill Grace, the 4-V Model of Ethical Leadership demonstrates the four sides of ethical leadership. The 4-V Model of Ethical Leadership is a framework that aligns the internal factors, i.e. the beliefs and values, with the external factors, i.e. the behaviors and actions, in service of approaching the common good.


The 4 sides of  ethical leadership, include: values, vision, voice and virtue. To develop ethical leadership, we as leaders need to begin with understanding our individual core values. Our vision is our ability as leaders to behave and act within the frame of our values. Our voice is how we articulate our vision and use it to motivate action. Our virtue, is our belief in the common good, it is fostered through ethical, principled leadership. Virtuous behavior is when we live our values, when we strive to do the right thing.

Dr. Grace, the founder of the 4-V model,  identifies three additional key elements to ethical leadership: service, polis and renewal. Our service connects our vision to our values, which means that when our values are tested through our service, that our vision is often revealed. Polis, standing for politics, indicates that our schools are engaged in the art of politics when voice is given to vision in the public context. Renewal is the territory where voice returns to values, illustrates that since voice can be expressed in various ways, us as the leaders should regularly consider whether our actions are consistent with our values and our vision.

(The Center for Ethical Leadership, 2014).

As Andy Hargreaves presented on collaborative leadership and the need for leaders who champion diversities at Whole Education’s #GreatSchools; as Carol Jones contextualised leadership in 2017 at the Leading Women’s Alliance #SeizingOpportunities Summit and advocated the need for values-led decision makers; and as Laura McInerney and Helen Lewis discussed bold leadership and how we articulate and amplify our voices as school leaders at the #HTRTsummit; I felt something inside me shift. My values are strong, but I felt them galvanise for action.  Both events filled me with hope. Hope for the future of our schools, for the future of school leadership.

For me hope is built on: Principled leadership; Ethical leadership; Values-led leadership. Our school system needs these leaders. Our children need these leaders. These are the leaders who will collectively stabilise the chaos that we currently find our world in.

Imagine if all of our schools were led in this way. Imagine if all of our leaders made decisions based on what was right for the children and the community, rather than succumbed to the pressures of the system and the accountabilities. Imagine if the leaders who remained in the system, who were not chewed up and spat out, were the leaders who did not sell their soul to the devil. Just imagine.


Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The impact that the Headteachers’ Roundtable will have on the school system

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • The Heads Roundtable’s Green Paper
  • The Spirals of Enquiry and communities of collaborative enquiry that Whole Education champion

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Carol Jones for helping to shape my values-led leadership journey
  • Kerry Jordan-Daus for sign posting me to find our more about Principled Leadership
  • The HTRT core group who created a really special event this week and modelled Ethical Leadership
  • The Diverse Leaders panellists – thank you to Allana, Amjad, Bennie, Bukky, Jess, Mahlon and Martin – who contributed to the Diversity Matters panels at #BETT17 and #Teach2017 – continue leading with authenticity and integrity as the tide is changing

Start with Why: My Vision and Values

So it seems only fitting that I launch my Headteacher blog as I enter my last half-term as a Deputy Headteacher. So here goes… join me on my journey as I adjust to my new role and my new surroundings, relocating from London to Oxfordshire and stepping up to take on not only my first headship role, but also a Regional Director role for a hub of GLF schools.

I began thinking about ‘making the leap’ (read Jill Berry’s leadership book with this title) this time last year. I had been ‘tapped on the shoulder’  by lots of people in my #PLN about my career plans as a result of #womened leading to a chat at the unconference with Kate Chhatwal about Talented Leaders and a phone chat with Chris Hildrew about the Headship role at what is now his previous school. I applied for both and was unsuccessful in both processes, but I did not expect to get either so was not disappointed – this was me being #10%braver and practising what I preach, dipping my toe in to see if I was ready. More important for me, was the learning from the application and interview process for each role. I don’t consider either to be failures at such, just stepping stones on my journey to finding the ‘right fit’, which I am confident I have  subsequently found.

When I met my new CEO, Jon Chaloner, his vision and values for the GLF MAT resonated with me and we hit it off straight away. He, like me, is a straight talking, warm and compassionate educator and an ambitious, visionary leader. GLF stands for the Glyn Learning Foundation, but it is also an acronym for the MAT’s mission statement: ‘Grow, Learn, Flourish’ which I quite simply love.  At the heart of what my new trust stands for are family values and the relationships of the community. I spent 2 days with my fellow Headteachers and Education Team from the trust just before half-term and our values for the conference were: ‘Communicate, Coach and Care’. This ethos aligns with my vision and values for our school and the wider community at Aureus. For those of you following the rise of the #WomenEd movement on social media you will know that we established our community values as the 8 Cs: Clarity, Communication, Connection, Community, Collaboration, Confidence, Challenge, Change. We believe that it is important to capture and articulate the shared vision so that everyone is on the same page and can ‘buy-in’.

Our mission statement at Aureus is: ‘Nurturing hearts and minds’. I am passionate about educating the WHOLE child and about the holistic aspects of education that are often forgotten in our high accountability system. I will make sure that we know each of our students as “names, not numbers” at Aureus. We will nurture our school community so that everyone – all stakeholders – will flourish and thrive. I capitalized ‘whole’ because when I was recently drafting the marketing literature for my website, prospectus and open evening it is how I articulated my values, although subsequently I have tweaked it to be WHOLE: Wellbeing, Honesty, Optimism, Love, Equality; CHILD: Courage, Humility, Innovation, Leadership, Diversity.  I read recently that values should be “lived and not laminated” which is so true, I see meaningless mission statements all the time and know lots of schools who say one thing and do another. I will strive to ensure that these values become behaviours and actions in practice at Aureus rather than thoughts and ideas in theory.

In Start with Why, Simon Sinek challenges you to invert how you approach things and use the ‘Golden Circle’ to structure your thinking: Why? How? What? (instead of What? How? Why?) My ‘Why?‘ is strong (see the About section re my motivation for writing this blog) – I want to create a school with a heart, filled with love, where the wellbeing of staff and students is prioritized. My ‘How?’ is percolating as I research Mindfulness, Yoga, Art & Music Therapy, as I develop a staffing model that is flexible. My ‘What?’ is a vision at the moment as I reflect on how to instill global citizenship in  the community, celebrate diversity in the curriculum and ensure that our students develop 21st employability skills. Having a long lead in my role (6 months until I start and 14 months until I open) is a luxury and gives me lots of thinking time to create a clear vision and strategy for how to actualize it. Having a blank sheet of paper is also really liberating as I can think beyond the box after years of working in turn around schools that need reactive strategies to quickly fix problems, rather than being preventative. However, the long lead in time could also result in lots of doing and undoing as there is time to plan, re-plan and unplan everything required to open a new school. I will need to be mindful of time and energy management over the next few months, ensuring that I make decisions that are sustainable once the school is opened and is operational. At the  moment it is still a little surreal and I have to pinch myself to remind myself that it is happening as I count down the days to my January start and mentally prepare (if that is possible?) for my new chapter.

A final mention goes to Mary Myatt who has kindly agreed that I can magpie her phrase as the title of my new blog. I have had quite a few out-of-body experiences in the last few months, one was being at the Leadership Matters launch party last week with Andy Buck’s  eclectic #PLN where I re-connected with Mary after meeting her at #Researched and #ShapingCPD events, another was a few days ago as I was sitting in Toronto reading High Challenge, Low Threat when I received an email from the author asking me for a favour…

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The opportunity to do things slightly differently at Aureus.
  • Our Year 6 Admissions that are due in on 31/10 – fingers crossed for lots of 1st choice preferences as this will enable my plans to come to fruition in Year 1.

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • High Challenge, Low Threat – Finding the Balance, Mary Myatt

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Jill Berry, Kate Chhatwal, Chris Hildrew, Jon Chaloner, Mary Myatt, Andy Buck – as mentioned above
  • Jaz Ampaw-Farr and Natalie Scott for critical friendship and feedback on the blog