A recent post, Assertiveness for the School Business Manager, raised comments about the ever present self-doubt that exists among SBMs. So let’s take the framework of the previous post and write it again…
I often think that self-doubt is a major barrier to the success of a School Business Manager. I am as bad as the next SBM and my confidence can, on occasion, completely desert me.
There are many routes into the role we find ourselves in. But I would be surprised if anyone started out in their career with the decision “I want to be a School Business Manager”. It’s just not that sort of job. Certainly, rewarding, responsible and challenging. It’s not highly remunerated (relative to the private sector) and it is only just becoming recognised as a stand-alone professional role. Consequently, it doesn’t rank alongside Sportsperson, Stockbroker, Astronaut, Medical Professional, Teacher, Engine Driver…which inspires students towards university.
So where does this ‘imposter syndrome’ that we suffer come from? We are a dedicated bunch and share the school vision with the rest of the community. Many of us are responsible for the operations of a considerable sized SME. All of us have significant transferable skills that we could probably use to earn more in the outside world…
So, how do we keep that self-doubt at bay?
- Believe in your skills and the value you are bringing to your organisation. Know that your role as leader of the operations and support staff is crucial to the success of your school. Imagine your school without your role, or an equivalent central/traded service. It wouldn’t work would it? Your role is key.
- Accept that you are a human being. Sometimes the responsibilities, even though they are shared with the rest of the Senior Leadership Team, can weigh heavily. Look after your own well-being and have systems in place that protect you.
- Know your worth. I like to keep a weather eye on the job market. Not that I am looking for another job. There is something quite satisfying about knowing what is out there. My job then becomes my choice. Which helps when it isn’t going well.
- Don’t tackle unwinnable battles. We all know that one of the influences of the self-doubt is the “you’re not a teacher” attitude. You’ll never win this one so don’t try. You know your value to the organisation and that you work as hard (gasp!) as the Teaching staff. This one is very much what you make of it. If you don’t let it bother you – it won’t! Don’t let it sap your energy.
- Rehearse. Being prepared for all areas in your role will keep the self-doubt ‘imps’ away. Preparation gives you confidence, which will show.
There are ten of these…
- Be positive. Your attitude is all important. Being positive and optimistic about events and situations really rubs off on everyone around you. It gives you a sense of success, without actually doing anything!
- Approach everything with purpose. Again, it is giving the impression that you are confident in your role. Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter what is in your heart or mind. No one will know that you are terrified of being rumbled if you never give them cause to think it!
- Speak in the first person. “This is what I think” gives you gravitas among your peers including the rest of SLT. It will take some courage, especially if you are not used to putting your oar in, but there is confidence in regularly making a contribution.
- Don’t be afraid to test the water. Let’s not pretend. Sometimes it is a big ask to just wade in and say what you think or want. There is no harm in testing your opinions and assumptions. This is where the benefits of being part of SBLTwitter really show. What do other SBMs think?
- Don’t always say ‘no’. The self-doubter needs to challenge themselves. There are many opportunities for extending the reach of the SBM. Ask for them or accept them well in advance to give yourself time to get your head round it and ask for support in tackling the new challenge if you need it.
We tick the boxes
School Business Managers survive the challenges of the role by taking on tasks that would cause many to run a mile. SBMs also manage to encompass such a wide remit into their day-to-day, it is difficult to imagine how a self-doubter manages to be so effective.
Keep self-doubt away by doing what you are already doing so well, and then occasionally push yourself out of your comfort zone and add a new skill to your range.
And finally…if, like me your confidence occasionally deserts you, remind yourself that you are good at your job and just ride out the self-doubt until you are back to being assertive, effective you!