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: Loretta Wholley
Organisation: Genazzano FCJ College
I went to St Brigid's College in Western Australia. I am the youngest of 3 daughters to a migrant Italian family.
I have taught and led in the Catholic Education sector my whole teaching career. With a preference for all-girls schools. My areas of teaching are Religious Education, ICT/Digital Technologies, and Business.
I became a Deputy Principal in 2003 at Santa Maria College and then in 2010 at Mercedes College. I have held all portfolios during that time: Mission and Faith, Pastoral Care, Curriculum/Academic, and Boarding.
My husband Michael and our two daughters moved to Canberra in 2013 where I took up my first position as Principal at Merici College. In 2021 we moved to Melbourne where I have been fortunate to be the Principal at Genazzano FCJ College.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Balancing the needs of all parties during a time of conflict or concern is always challenging - whether it is with and between staff or students and families. Making sure everyone feels heard and valued during the process.
We need to be reflective and know about ourselves because when we deal with issues we don't know the whole story or the backgrounds of the people we meet. Knowing where your limitations are, the circle of influence, and control are in uncertain times or situations is very challenging as a leader as you can't fix all things.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I was fortunate to have great principals and mentors who saw in me leadership skills that were able to be honed and molded. Therefore, I was asked to step up on many occasions to fill in when people were away or on leave. This experience then put me in a great position to apply for further leadership positions. I was also involved in aspiring leadership and development programs and completed courses to review my leadership style and impact on others. Completing the Life Styles Inventory and DISC profile have been great opportunities to understand and appreciate how my decision-making process, presentation skills, and role-modeling impact those leaders around me (in both a positive and negative way).
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
When I wake up:
Look at the day ahead
Complete compliance tasks
Lots of meetings
Drop in on staff
Make phone calls
Chat to family
Watch too much TV
Play games in real life and apps on my phone
Take children to activities
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
I always need to remind myself that not everyone is going to like the decisions I make but I need to be clear about why I make them, staying true to the mission and purpose of those decisions.
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?
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
She taught me how to be empathetic and accept vulnerability as part of leadership. That I should not try to be someone that I am not in order to fit in with the expectations of others.
Heroic Leadership - Chris Lowney
He called me to constantly reflect on myself as a leader. That leadership is an ongoing process of discovery and that my role as a leader is to see the potential in others. To be authentic and trustworthy.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Learning how to deal with conflict will be an absolute necessity as a leader. So please don't shy away from it. Please read about it, train on how to have complex and sensitive conversations, practice them in role plays and use the models. You need to be confident so that when the time comes, you are calm, listen, and help the process move forward constructively.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
My two significant positions in leadership were combined with physical location moves of state and also during challenging times.
In 2013, when we moved to Merici College in Canberra (from Perth) to start my first role as a Principal, I was pregnant. In 2021, when we moved from Canberra to Melbourne to commence at Genazzano FCJ College, we did that in the middle of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Victorian Lockdowns.
We knew no one in each of those locations.
So my focus for each school was "create community" through trust and authenticity. When you create a positive community, it transforms lives for the better.
The world is not perfect, but we must try and live in harmony with God, ourselves, others, and creation. That's how we transform the world; our moves have helped me define that and see it come to life.