Name: Peter Muddle
Title: Deputy Principal
Organisation: St Philip's Christian College Gosford
I am the current Deputy Principal at SPCC Gosford on the Central Coast of NSW. I have served in roles including Deputy Principal Teaching and Learning, Deputy Principal Curriculum and Christian Perspectives Coordinator in my current and previous schools.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Peter's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Lots of things. Learning how to listen to constructive criticism and respond to it with grace, even if it is ill-motivated. Understanding that this is for my good, even if difficult to hear. I have also found it difficult to work alongside other leaders who lack integrity in the way they lead. This has been a big challenge and I have left previous schools and roles because of it.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I led in various places outside of work (as a young man I often found myself in leadership roles at School, Beach Mission, in Church and other spaces). I applied for my first school leadership role in my 3rd year of teaching as I believed I had something to offer and could meet an existing need. While I wasn't offered that role, apply for the position allowed my Principal at the time to understand the way I felt called and equipped for leadership in the future, and he sought out opportunities for me from that point onwards.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I begin each day walking the dog for half an hour or do, spending time with God and praying about the day ahead. This year I listened to the Bible on my morning walks - it only took 4 months and is a great start to my day.
I then get ready for work and drive the half hour to work, sometimes making calls and starting to work on a mental list of things to do for the day.
When I arrive at school, I ensure my classes to teach are ready to go, and then start to check in on my direct reports to make myself available to them and so that they always know they can seek me out for support.
Every day is different, but I try to be available to staff, often not getting to my own 'work' until after school - but need to remember that speaking to staff is my job!
I work back at school until around 5pm, head home and try to be 'present' when at home with my family. I often need to work at night, but not until I give my full attention to my family, who need to know that they are really important to me!
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Communication is so important. I recently learned that I need to always work to effectively communicate my ideas with the staff who sit underneath me. I need to deliver things clearly, create time to answer any questions from my audience, be available and easy to speak with about issues relating to what issue I am working through with staff, and seek to support them in the implementation of what has been communicated. And always, communication is better face-to-face than over email, wherever possible.,
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?
From Good to Great - Jim Collins (I think!). Great lessons on leadership that include good wisdom on effective change and improvement. Very applicable to Christian schooling and leadership.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
God gave you 2 ears and 1 mouth, and you should use them in proportion! Seriously though, listening is really important, but don't promise anything you definitely can't deliver on - people have long memories!
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
When we went through the Covid-19 Pandemic as a school community, it was really obvious to our College community that our Exec team were unified in our response, and worked well together. Going through a crisis is not when leaders are created, its when they shine and keep the ship on course in a storm.