Viv Grant is an Executive Coach, Author and Public Speaker. She is the Director of Integrity Coaching, a leading provider of coaching services for headteachers and senior school leaders.
Viv has been in the teaching profession for almost thirty years. When she was just 31 and expecting her first child, she was appointed as one of the youngest headteachers in the country to turn around a failing primary school.
It was because of her experiences as a Head, that Viv developed a deep interest in approaches for supporting the emotional and psychological well-being of school leaders.
As an Executive Coach, Viv now works extensively with headteachers and school leaders, helping them to overcome the challenges of their roles, so that they are able to maintain their humanity, joy, love for the profession and the communities they serve.
Her book “Staying A Head” is the seminal work in this area. Recognised as an expert in the field, she has contributed to various books and periodicals on the subject, most recently a chapter on “Supporting Headteachers” for a newly published book “Mental Health and Well-Being in Teaching and Learning Environments”. As an expert commentator, her contributions have also been featured in The Guardian, London Live, Sky News, Radio Four, Woman’s Hour and the World at One.
Prior to setting up Integrity Coaching, Viv worked as a lead consultant on a range of leadership development programmes for the Institute of Education, the National College, the National Union of Teachers [NUT] and the Department for Education [DfE].
The essence of work, after providing for our simple survival, is an intimacy between two seemingly opposing poles: an interior closeness to a foundational sense of self, and the longing for some recognized outer horizon to which we dedicate our endeavors.
David Whyte, Invitas
Viv Grant flashed brightly on my radar after her work was first highlighted by a previous podcast guest, Alison Kriel. Viv’s focus on the wellbeing of school leaders is something that I was researching at the time and hoping to enhance within Evolve’s offer to schools.
After a couple of meetings and phone calls, it was obvious that numerous synergies exist between our organisations and I insisted that Viv joined the Evolve Team for our annual conference in 2015. Feedback from delegates following Viv’s workshop was amazing and we have kept in touch ever since.
Our conversation is slightly different to previous ones since Viv is no longer a headteacher and now specialises in providing support to school leaders, building on her vast experience and personal lessons whilst in the role. Some of the insights that Viv shared instantly struck chords with me and, hopefully, they will have the same effect on you.
We talk about a range of topics that each provide a glimpse into the important and pioneering work of Viv’s organisation, Integrity Coaching. These topics include:
- The loneliness of the headteacher role
- The sacrifice syndrome that many school leaders suffer from
- How Viv overcame personal obstacles during her progress into school leadership
- Why headteachers need to find the space to process what is going on around them
- The important “inner work” that headteachers must do to stay focussed and maintain equilibrium
- Why new teachers should be kind to themselves and focus on the good things that happen every day
- Why school leaders should not be too hard on themselves if they spend 60+ hours per week working towards their educational goals
- Why headteachers should know themselves before getting to know others, both in school and in the wider world
- The belief systems held by headteachers that drive their behaviour and decisions, often unknowingly
- Two exciting projects that Viv is currently working on
This interview is an excellent tonic for educationalists that are looking for a little extra motivation and a creative way to boost their effectiveness. For those who have not had the pleasure of Viv’s company before, I am sure that this will be a very short introduction to a long lasting relationship with her. For those who have already fallen under her spell, the next 45 minutes will be a welcome addition to your weekly playlist.
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- Viv’s website and blogs can be found at www.integritycoaching.co.uk and her Twitter handle is @Vivgrant
- The “Sacrifice Syndrome” originates from Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope and Compassion by Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee
- Viv discussed the impact that her Anansi Spider stories had on one former pupil
- Parker J Palmer is an author who has written about The Courage to Teach. I have shared a paragraph from the Amazon book review below since it is relevant to the interview
- David Whyte is the speaker, author and poet who challenges the conventional wisdom of trying to achieve work-life balance
- Giles Barrow talks about teaching being a “series of interruptions” where you must “know yourself” before making any intended learning intervention
- The NUT is working with Integrity Coaching to offer its members subsidised coaching and you can find more details here
- Dr Neil Hawkes is the founder of Values-based Education which Viv talks about and is speaking at Viv’s conference “Education for the Soul” in October 2017
- Vanessa King from Action for Happiness and author of 10 Keys to Happier Living is also speaking at “Education for the Soul”
- Viv is good friends with Alison Kriel who was my first podcast guest in this series and introduced me to Viv’s work. Alison is speaking at Viv’s conference.
Parker Palmer has worked on behalf of teachers and others who choose their vocations for reasons of the heart but may lose heart because of the troubled, sometimes toxic systems in which they work.
The Courage to Teach, Amazon Book Review