The Heart of Every Leader

by Hendri Mclntosh.

As we have all come to a new school year, it is essential to reflect, anticipate new opportunities, influence others around you and cultivate new growth.

We, as leaders, have the responsibility to actively lead! You are the Head of the school, and your staff is the body, but being in a leadership position is much more than knowing the ins and outs of your school. It is the heart of every leader that makes a difference. The whole body, including the head, crumbles if there is no heartbeat, and the heart eventually reaches a standstill. The heart of every leader can be defined with a set of behaviours that help your staff align to the collective direction, execute strategic plans, and continually renew your organization for the better.

What behaviours in our hearts drive us as leaders to be successful? We find passion, commitment, integrity, love, and communication in our hearts every day and these lead to behaviours that can be seen as the lifeblood that comes from the heart, runs through our veins and influences what we do and who we are.

Passion and Commitment

This is where we as leaders at the start of each year, must reflect and renew our passion and commitment towards our school, as our staff and students see us as their example and mentors. It is here that we, as leaders, are most fully effective when committed to our goals while helping others achieve theirs.

Ask yourself: “What am I here for? Why do I do what I do? Furthermore, how can I equip others to let them become better than me?”


Integrity is defined as the constant behaviour of being honest and having strong moral principles that you, as a leader, refuse to change even when no one is watching! In other words, we always stick to our word and do what is right. No compromises. This brings trust and respect from our staff, parents and students. One needs to be reminded that this also takes time to grow, but as with all things of great value; it is worth waiting for.

Ask yourself: “Do I do what I say I will do? Can my staff and the students of our school trust me? Am I the true example for others to follow in all aspects of the school?”

Love and Communication

These are at the centrepiece of the heart of every leader! Love holds everything together as we believe in what is possible and see it come to pass. We see our staff and students grow to their full potential, and see them constantly building new relationships and strengthening our community! We need each other as we are all learning from each other and have different strengths. Communication is, therefore, the heartbeat to make this possible! Able to give and receive honest feedback in all aspects of the school for growth while frequently stepping back as the Head to let the rest of the body do its work!

Ask yourself: “Is my door always open for communication to hear what others say? Am I open to receiving honest feedback for my growth as much as I give honest feedback to others? Furthermore, am I willing to step back so that others may function to their full potential?”

In conclusion, may you take this time to reflect on these thoughts and be the heart that makes your school a living, growing, thriving community. A leader whom others can see as an example, with whom they belong, can learn from and are not afraid to communicate with and trust in their everyday life.

May we all have a fabulous new school year, knowing that all things are possible and that we are all here for each other in support, learning with and from each other to be the best and most profound leaders we are and can be.

Hendri McIntosh is a Leader, Senior Educator and Proud Member of the Foshan EtonHouse  School Family.

To connect with him on LinkedIn, please click Here.

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1 thought on “<strong><br>The Heart of Every Leader</strong>”

  1. Great leadership is the art and skill of balancing all of the leadership tools available to us. I totally endorse the focus here on leading from the heart, but would add a balance, that leading with love and integrity includes the appropriate use of tough-minded challenging conversations. Challenging doesn’t mean being confrontational or aggressive, but neither does it mean softening the seriousness of the issues at hand. I’ve already had to have direct and hard edged discussions with two new members of staff about standards of teaching and learning, in order to nip bad habits, presumably inherited from their previous schools, in the bud. The ‘golden mean’ in such conversations I find, is to work towards ‘win win’ solutions where colleagues have complete clarity about what needs to be improved and feel empowered by the challenging conversation to find their own professional solutions. I wonder what early challenges you’ve had to face up to in this new term?

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