By setting clear guidelines and allowing staff to reach the goal through their own means you empower staff as per age-old wisdom.

It’s funny when I find myself quoted and it’s a better summary than I’d do myself. I’m the Chair of Governors of my local comprehensive school in Hackney and the headteacher emailed me to say she’d been reading a book on getting more students through GCSEs and found me quoted in the middle of it:

“I soon learnt that you can only create a second class copy of yourself if you manage yourself as a model. What you aim for is for people to feel they own their own job which means:

You set the principles
You agree the targets
You step back and let the people perform, any way they like, as long as its within the principles and hits the targets
You offer support”

Intriguingly the authors put it in the context of Socrates’ views. Apparently he said “an essential part of empowerment in any post is a clear sense of what is expected of the post-holder.” I’ve not come across that before but I’d certainly agree with it.

For me the key is to create a clear framework and make sure there is lots of freedom within it for innovation. If you want the full explanation of the principles/targets/support approach do download the draft of my book The Happy Manifesto. And if you want to find out how to get more students through GCSE, check out this book: “Climbing Towards Excellence” by John R Rowling and Wyll Willis, Trentham Books,

To ‘Give Freedom with Clear Guidelines’ is one of the ten core principles of the Happy Manifesto — read more about the Happy Manifesto’s Core Principles.


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