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7 Questions on Leadership with Jim O'Sullivan

Name: Jim O'Sullivan

Title: Principal

Organisation: Sacred Heart Primary School Diamond Creek Victoria

I have been a principal of Catholic Primary Schools in the Archdiocese of Melbourne for 33 years and an educator in primary and junior secondary schools for 12 years before that.

I have Masters degree in Wellbeing and Educational Leadership among other qualifications.

I am married with 3 children and 5 grandchildren

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Jim's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

While there have been many challenges one of the main ones has been understanding and adjusting to the different attitudes atowards and expectations of education among different generations of students, parents, staff, systems and governments.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

Never really looked for the role just was given more and more opprtunities in minor and major leadership roles and being a principal was a logical next step and 33 years on here I am still enjoying it.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I have a reasonably long drive to work (50 minutes) through mainly semi rural areas so I have time to think about the day ahead. I also get into work about 7.30 am so that I can prepare those things that I have reflected on during the drive abd be available to staff as they arrive. At the end of the day I am able to go over the day during the drive and identify major points for the next day and so on.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

Remembering the importance of touching base with people (staff, parents) to ensure that they are aware of what is being done and why on a regular basis rather than being too focussed on getting things done.

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?

Putting Faces On The Data reminded me of the importance of remembering that data is only one aspect and has to be combined with other information sources o fully understand our students

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Try to be as present as you can for your school community by being the welcoming presence at the beginning of the day and throughout the day walking around the school to see staff and students in their contexts.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

I can't really think of one at the moment.

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