It can’t have escaped your notice that I have written a book. I have flaunted and foisted it shamelessly on Twitter to all and sundry who happened to stumble across my timeline. I make no apologies for that, for I am sure that you too will do the same if you were in my position. In fact, I positively encourage you to do so, for isn’t that precisely why we engage in ‘social’ media in the first place? We are a sociable bunch and I hope that you don’t mind indulging me now and again.
The book is called ‘The Art of Standing Out‘ and is due to be released next Monday (the 11th). In a nutshell, it’s about how to get the very best out of people – to make them become the best they can be. It takes place in a number of schools in Liverpool, the West Midlands and London as I reflect back on all the things that I did whilst working with great teams of people. More importantly, I think back to my own childhood and time at school and how this influenced my leadership style and the type of person I’ve become.
But if you really want to know the gist of the book, then it’s this: ‘How to transform your school in a way that is meaningful, courteous and wholesome without giving two hoots about Ofsted.’ Two Hoots, was at one point an early working title for the book and in some ways, perhaps I should have stuck with it. (Especially given the fact that when you Google ‘Standing Out’ it takes you to Katie Price’s autobiography of the same name, and I really wouldn’t want you to think that there is any association.)
So to mark the eve of publication, the following extract from the book isn’t actually written by me. Instead, it comes from the foreword, so eloquently penned by a colleague whose career I have followed from afar very closely; that of ex-headteacher turned speaker, author and broadcaster, Richard Gerver. I was naturally honoured and humbled when Richard agreed to read my book and then write the foreword.
This is how it goes:
“When I look back on my own career as a teacher and as a headteacher, I often reflect on the leaders and leadership that had an impact on me, good and bad. I often remind teachers today that they are first and foremost, leaders; leaders of people and of course learning. I also remind them that leadership is not about power, status or control – it’s about empowerment. I was fortunate in my first teaching job, to work for a wonderful headteacher; a role model and I remember him saying to me when I started applying for promotions, that leadership was about serving others; the people who work with you and for you. He meant that our job as leaders is to work hard in order to create the conditions and opportunities for others to flourish. I clearly recall him urging me to consider that whilst remembering that sanction was sadly sometimes necessary, it was as a last resort and often as a result of failed leadership. I often think that politicians and policy makers would do well to remember that.
Recently, I had the privilege to listen to Sir Richard Branson reflect on his career. It turns out that he was originally offered the Lord Sugar role on the television programme, The Apprentice. He turned it down because he hated the premise of the show that ended in a firing. He asserted that if you have to fire people, it is because you failed, not them. Now whilst I know that that is a multilayered challenge which is worthy of its own book, I think that is a clear statement of the responsibilities of leadership on a very human level.
After many years of reflection and learning, I now judge leadership and potential leaders on a number of qualities which include; authenticity, passion, courage, vision and honesty. To my mind Andrew Morrish displays all of these qualities and more in abundance. This beautiful, inspirational book made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up many times. This is a real reflection of a leader I admire greatly serving his communities in life changing ways. His book is an outstanding reflection of our times and one that I hope will act as a reassurance and catalyst for all of us, who are fortunate enough to work with kids and with colleagues, as we look to build a long lasting legacy, worthy of our children.
Lead on Andrew and help us all, to help our schools stand out, so that our children can lead us in to better times.”
I hope that if you do read my book, there will be something in there that resonates with you that will become a cataylst for change. Above all, treat it as a comfort blanket. Deep-down every single one of us – no matter how experienced, young, old or long in the tooth we may be – all struggle daily with the enormity of being responsible for leading our children into better times and that we simply can’t mess up.
The Art of Standing Out: School Transformation to Greatness and Beyond is published by John Catt Educational on 11th July 2016.