Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with
helps you in your leadership.
Name: John Maguire
Title: Executive Headmaster
Organisation: The British School of Bahrain
Having been educated in a boarding school in the United Kingdom, I completed my Bachelor's Degree at the University of Leicester before completing my Post Graduate at Newcastle University. I worked at a co-educational boarding school in North London becoming part of their Leadership Team before moving to a high achieving all-boys school in North London, that was awarded School of the Year in 2017. It was here that I also completed my Masters in Educational Leadership.
In 2019 I moved to the Kingdom of Bahrain to lead a large, co-educational, school for 3-18 year olds. I believe in the importance of a holistic approach to education that develops all students academically, socially and morally through curriculum and co-curricular pursuits. The importance of the individual student and, most importantly, their happiness. I can often be heard saying that the ‘happiness and well-being of young people is the soil in which they grow’ and the key to the ongoing success of every school. The energy behind all my actions is derived from a passion for continuing to develop myself and others to be the best we can be by encouraging them to produce innovative ideas, inspired teaching and projects that positively impact colleagues, students, and the wider community, including an abundance of charity work.
This philosophy relies on the fostering of positive school culture built upon mutual trust, innovation, and development, which seeks to benefit all. The leadership of any successful school necessitates an adaptive and thoughtful leadership style. My leadership style is built upon approachability, visibility, humour, empathy, honesty, integrity and delegation, but it also demands the highest standards in all aspects of school life. Leading other members of a diverse management team to deliver high standards continues to be an important and rewarding professional challenge.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Keeping all the plates spinning, while also moving the school forward. Doing all of this while keeping the quiet majority happy and filtering the more vocal minority.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Initially, by default. The Head of Department in my first school left, and I was asked to take the role within my first year of teaching. Since then, I have led departments, been part of extended leadership teams and spent 11 years on a small, highly successful senior leadership team. It was only in 2019 that I chose to lead a school myself.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I wake up at 04:50 and walk the dog for 25 minutes. Then I go to the gym for 30 minutes, before getting the dog its breakfast, my wife a coffee and waking my children.
I arrive at work just before 0700. Normally catch up on e-mails and things from the night before. At 0740, I go to the main gates and welcome students in until 0800.
My day is then different every day. Meetings, coaching, 1:1, parents, students, meeting ambassadors or important businesses. Each day is different.
At 14:50, I supervise the departure of students and try to speak to parents. Then it's normally finishing off work until 18:00.
Dinner with the family, finish e-mails and put the children to bed. Then the nightly pretence that I am going to read or watch something on television when in reality, I will fall asleep on the sofa with the dog.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Micro-management might feel right in the short-term, but it only creates a bigger problem in the longer term
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
The First 90 Days.
It's a really good book, not just for people taking on a new role (i.e. the first 90 days), but actually good for anyone who is in leadership. It encourages you to reflect on the type of leadership that is needed to fit the situation. Matching leadership style with a situation is crucial for success.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Always buy for time. So many situations become clearer or resolved over time. The angry parent is less angry the next day. The staff member has resolved a situation given time. My tip is always buy for time and give yourself the time to think, digest and evaluation a situation, your actions and a resolution.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
We must remember that we are human and that having human reactions is fine. There are some situations that I don't ever want to become used to, and they must continue to be painful.
A death in the community, whether it be a colleague, student or parent, always hits hard. They are a reality check on what is essential in life and how fragile life is. Sadly over the last four years, there have been moments of tragedy, and each one has hit hard, but I don't ever want to become immune to these emotions because it's these that make us all human and caring.