• Nadia Ballantine & Carol Lynch

Staying Positive in Leadership - Controlling the Controllable

A conversation with Jane Corcoran Principal of Brunswick School Whanganui, & an active participant in a wide range of national and regional educational groups, has reminded us that we are all able to influence and control our situations. We sought Jane out to extend and build our own understandings of some of the current developments taking place in the sector in 2021 and beyond. We were listening to learn. A huge thanks to Jane for spending some time with us.

As a result of our conversation with Jane, here’s what we’d like to share.

3 Themes

Owning our Mental fitness

The ability to bounce back from stress or challenges. A fundamental leadership skill that requires discipline and training. Build that mental muscle!! Physical fitness leads to mental clarity.


We hear you. It’s not going away. But how you think about it can help. Ask yourself, “Can I control this?” “Is this thinking helping me?” If the answer is ‘no’, then don’t spend your thinking time worrying about it.

Asking for help

The responsibility of leadership is not all yours. Asking for help is a leadership strength not a weakness.

2 Questions to Ask Yourself

-What am I doing that matters and makes a difference for the tamariki and staff in my school?

-What are the small wins that I can celebrate from each situation?

1 Practical Idea Inspired by Jane

Here’s one way Jane takes her people with her up onto the balcony. People are the work; from the caretaker to the Deputy Principal. Jane is disciplined and formally facilitates a hauora check-in with every staff member twice a term. This is based on their agenda and includes questions like:

What is most important for you to talk about? Tell me what’s going on for you right now?

What’s working well?

What is the biggest challenge for you right now?

How can I/the Board best support you?

She listens deeply and is open; listening to learn rather than respond. She reports trends to the Board and this has impacted positively on strategic resourcing and the Boards understanding of hauora and workload.

Thank you for your input into this post Jane.

Take care everyone & all the best for the remaining weeks of the term.

Carol & Nadia