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Successful Teams Start by Having the Right Attitudes

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Successful Teams Start by Having the Right Attitudes


Attitudes might be the most important factor in determining an Educator’s success. Educators who are open to learning, work as team players, and are adaptable are destined for success. Positive attitudes are infectious, they can motivate, engage and inspire others. However, negative attitudes can destroy the best of intentions.

Good recruitment can often separate the wheat from the chaff but what happens when qualifications trump attitude and you’re faced with the prospect of having an Educator with a less than optimal attitude on your team?

Leaders need to ensure that they are making behaviour and attitude expectations explicit. What does a good team player look like? Are we going to say no to brilliant jerks (technical experts who are poor team players)? An Educator’s attitude affects their work performance and can impact the whole service culture. Generally, Educators with good attitudes have stronger performance and Educators with poor attitudes demonstrate less than optional performance.


Creating an Environment That Supports Positive Attitudes

At the beach, being between the flags is the safest place to swim—the flags represent a safe, supported environment. Experienced surf lifesavers choose the safest location for the flags and are there to save you should you get into trouble. If you swim responsibly between the flags they form somewhat of a safety net should something go wrong.

Some beachgoers decide to swim beyond the flags. Their decision to swim beyond the flags is a product of their attitude toward risk, their perception of their own competency, and subjective norms. Swimming beyond the flags is not only dangerous for the individual but also for other beach goes as it diverts the attention of surf lifesavers in the area. Ultimately, swimmers who choose to be beyond the flags put everyone at risk.

Clearly Stating Expectations

As managers and leaders, it’s our responsibility to set the flags with our teams. By deciding what’s between the flags you can create a common and acceptable definition of accountability, foster strong commitment and increase personal responsibility. Accountability is like quality, you only notice it when it’s not there. We need to decide and clearly articulate which attitudes and behaviours are between the flags and which attitudes and behaviours are beyond the flags. The attitudes we place inside the flags will depend on our team’s current state, beliefs, strategic goals, and pedagogical philosophy. Some behaviours and attitudes are obvious and others are less so. The behaviours and attitudes that are between the flags are those that support a high-performing team and personal responsibility.


Ownership, responsibility and accountability fit firmly between the flags, so do seeking solutions, taking action and seeing possibilities. If all team members demonstrate behaviours that are between the flags, then the team succeeds. Putting certain behaviours and attitudes between the flags is clearly articulating what high performance looks like. When the whole service acknowledges and agrees with these behaviours it increases psychological safety and supports a culture of accountability. Without the desired behaviour being made explicit, Educators are left to flounder and manage shifting behavioural expectations.

The attitudes and behaviours that are beyond the flags are those that destroy team cohesiveness, undermine trust and create a poor sense of positive belonging. Attitudes such as blame, excuses and denial all belong beyond the flags. Negativity, fault finding and ignoring problems are also common behaviours teams choose to put beyond the flags.


Supporting Accountable Attitudes

When people exhibit behaviour between the flags, they take responsibility for mistakes and see them as learning opportunities. They are supported by their team and collectively they find better ways to ensure mistakes don’t happen again. When mistakes are made between the flags the manager takes overall accountability for the error. Courtney Lynch, the author of Spark: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success, says that, “Leaders inspire accountability through their ability to accept responsibility before they place blame”. The role of the manager is to rescue any Educators who make mistakes but remain between the flags. Much like a surf lifesaver who saves a drowning swimmer, the role of the manager is to support their Educator who has remained between the flags, to accept that something hasn’t gone to plan, and to provide a solution to the situation—one which is free from punishment or blame.

Leaders can support high performance by holding Educators accountable for remaining between the flags. Educators who drift beyond the flags should be prompted to return between the flags. They should be held accountable for their poor performance and coached to return to the desired performance. Services that support between the flags behaviours will create Educators who have positive attitudes, take responsibility, see solutions, and make things happen.


About the author:

Adrian Pattra is a management consultant with a Master of Education (Ed. Psychology). He is currently facilitating a new webinar series designed for managers and leaders “Educator Accountability: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide”

The Struggle For Accountability

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With support swelling for Black Lives Matter and greater transparency into Aboriginal deaths in custody, the spotlight has been thrown onto the Policy of Peer Intervention.  We see Images of detention guards and police standing around doing nothing as their colleagues use excessive force. Within our teams often Educators are expected to intervene if they see someone not performing. In our latest post, we examine the failure of the Peer Intervention Policy as a tool for accountability and its persistent use in our sector.


Too often, leaders and managers are reluctant to call out poor performance when it happens. When the time comes for an annual appraisal they tick all the boxes indicating satisfactory performance. This lack of accountability decimates the service culture and destroys respect. When laziness or underperformance is condoned by the silence of the manager, good Educators become disengaged, eventually fleeing the service.

Imagine a Lead Educator uses inappropriate language to a child in the yard. A few other junior Educators are around but no other senior staff are within earshot. Whose responsibility is it to tell the Lead Educator that their language isn’t appropriate?

The responsibility to manage the poor performance falls squarely and directly with their supervisor. Leaders who declare, “We all have a duty to intervene if we see someone not performing” are making excuses for their own inaction.

In response to BLM protests across America, police departments are looking for ways to crack down on poor practices, including excessive force. Slowly they are trying to change the way they operate, but will it have the desired effect?

Dallas Police Department has adopted a “Duty to Intervene” policy to prevent abuse. The City’s chief of police states that all police have a duty to intervene whenever a fellow officer is using excessive force, regardless of rank. The new policy is meant to create a more accountable police force and prevent another death like that of George Floyd.

Unfortunately, this policy won’t work and hasn’t worked in the past. In fact, Minneapolis has had a duty to intervene policy since 2016 but it did nothing to prevent the death of George Floyd. The policy requires officers to intervene when they believe force is being inappropriately applied or is no longer required. However, the truth is that the department doesn’t reward officers for interfering with their colleagues or reporting that they broke policy. If they do follow the ‘Duty to Intervene’ policy they risk being ostracised from their department and a loss of trust from their colleagues.

A 2006 VitalSmarts survey found that 93% of people would prefer to put up with a colleague’s poor performance than have to address it. It’s unfair and unreasonable to expect junior Educators to engage in peer intervention. Furthermore, asking everyone to call out poor performance makes it even more difficult to hold the supervisor accountable for performance management.

Kerry Patterson, the author of Critical Accountability, says, “As much as others may need to change, or we may want them to change, the only person we can continually inspire, prod, and shape—with any degree of success—is the person in the mirror.”

To achieve exceeding in 4.2 we have to show critical reflection on how we operate as a team. Some teams may choose peer intervention others will adopt a more hierarchical approach. However, my preference is clear, when the responsibility to call-out poor performance is left to everybody, nobody steps forward and the team flounders. When leaders are skilful at holding Educators accountable the conversation becomes less of a reprimand and more of an inspiring conversation showing them the value of their work.

In our services, it’s the responsibility of managers and leaders to hold their staff accountable for poor performance. The burden of responsibility cannot be shifted or diffused. As leaders, that’s what we sign up for when we accept the role.


About the author:

Adrian Pattra is a management consultant with a Master of Education (Ed. Psychology). He is currently facilitating a new webinar series designed for managers and leaders “Educator Accountability: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide”

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Helping Educators Work Together Better

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We work in a fast-paced environment with a whole range of differing personalities and sometimes this can cause conflict. Some Educators will naturally gravitate to each other and others will have less than ideal relationships. Some Educators like to fill the room with energy and chatter whilst other people like quiet reflection and contemplation. Some of us enjoy basking in the glow of the limelight while others are very uncomfortable with public displays of praise.

Not everyone in the world communicates and reacts to their environment in the same way. Educators work and communicate in very different ways.  Learning how to identify and understand different working styles is a fundamental component of creating high performing and harmonious teams. Personality clashes are not inevitable and are often the result of a lack of understanding and awareness.



Increased understanding leads to increased respect

Understanding different personality styles leads to increased respect and understanding. The focus on changing other people’s personalities has been a persistent myth which has hampered the development of many teams. The focus should be on changing the way we operate in order to create an environment where others can thrive.

When Educators understand different working styles it allows them to modify their approach to bring out the best in each other, improve communication and reduce conflict. The focus should not be on treating people like we like to be treated but treating people in a way they like to be treated. This perceptual shift places the onus on each of us to communicate in a way that brings out the best from each other.

The name of the styles depends on the personality theory but generally, there’s consider to be 4 main working styles.


Four working styles;

  1. Analytical
  2. Driver
  3. Amiable
  4. Expressive

Each of these working styles exhibits general characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses. They need to be managed and communicated in different ways. Understanding the unique characteristics will help your team bring out the best in each other.

Below are the 4 main styles. (Can you identify your team?)

Analytical Educators

The analytical personality type is very profound and thoughtful. They are serious and purposeful individuals. Analyticals are orderly, organized, they love lists and process.

They want things done right! And they want them done right the first time. They are neat and tidy individuals. Analyticals are detail-focused and they are self-disciplined.

Analyticals’ weaknesses are that they can be moody, critical and negative. Analyticals can be indecisive and they over-analyse everything.

Driver Educators

Drivers have a dynamic and direct working style. They exude confidence and move very quickly to action. For Drivers, close enough is good enough. Drivers’ strengths are that they are very determined individuals. They are independent and they are productive. Drivers get a lot of things done.

On the weak side, the driver can be insensitive, unsympathetic, harsh, proud and sarcastic. They can also rush to a decision without thoroughly thinking it through.

Amiable Educators

The amiable working type is very patient and well-balanced. They are quiet team players, very sympathetic, kind, and inoffensive. Amiables do not like to offend people.

An amiable is easy going and everybody likes Amiables. They don’t like conflict, so they’re very agreeable. They’re diplomatic and calm. But on the weak side, their aversion to offence and conflict can also manifest as a weakness.

Expressive Educators

Expressives are the social specialist because they love to have fun. They are individuals who turn disaster into humour. They prevent dull moments and they are very generous people. They want to be included in projects, in teams and conversations.

On the strong side, the expressive is very outgoing and easily engaged. They are ambitious, charismatic, and persuasive. On the weak side, they can be disorganized, undisciplined, loud, and lose interest quickly.

Changing your approach to suit your colleagues working styles ensures we can bring out the best in each other.

When you take this approach as a team, you’ll find you have increased collaboration and less aggressiveness. You’ll have increased engagement, positivity and a genuine respect and acceptance of different personalities.


Building An Effective Team

To make a great team we need to remember that great teams are about personalities, not just skills. As leaders and managers we should place as much emphasis on developing team cohesiveness as we do on developing technical skills.

Managers and leaders who focus on how the team interacts with each other and the psychological factors that create the team’s success, consistently have higher-performing teams.


We all need team members who are:

  • Results-oriented. (Drivers) Team members who organically organize work and take charge tend to be socially self-confident, and energetic.
  • Relationship-focused. (Amiable) Team members who organically focus on relationships, are attuned to others’ feelings, and are good at building cohesion tend to be warm, diplomatic, and approachable.
  • Process and rule followers. (Analytical) Team members who pay attention to details, processes, and rules tend to be reliable, organized, and conscientious.
  • Innovative and disruptive thinkers. (Expressive) Team members who naturally focus on innovation, anticipate problems, and recognize when the team needs to change tend to be imaginative, curious, and open to new experiences.


Rather than seeing opposing styles as threats, great teams work in a way that allows each other to thrive and focuses on the strengths in each other. Real results can be seen when leaders move the focus from what the team does to how they do it. A focus on how the team communicates, celebrates and resolves conflict has immeasurable benefits for the members of the team and the educational outcomes for the children in their care.


About the Author

Tracey Hamilton is a qualified Early Childhood Teacher with a Bachelor of Behavioural Sciences (Psychology). She is currently facilitating “Understanding Yourself and Others” workshops for Early Childhood and OSHC teams.

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Goodbye Blame, Hello Accountability – 5 simple steps to improving Educator Accountability.

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Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure. Excuses and bad attitudes can ruin your team, they create blame and disharmony causing high performers to flee.

Personal accountability is not simply the absence of excuses.  It is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions and decisions. It’s the belief that you are fully responsible for your own actions and consequences. It’s a choice, a mindset and an expression of integrity.

A lack of accountability produces blame, excuses and denial of responsibilities. It’s easy to see a lack of accountability in others,

  • Sorry I’m late but my alarm didn’t go off.
  • Yes, the learning story isn’t perfect, but I only had 15mins to write it.
  • How can I supervise correctly when we don’t have enough staff?

Personal accountability is about people taking initiative and following it through. It requires open and upfront communication at all levels.

As leaders, what are you accountable for? Providing a safe work environment? Creating a culture of ongoing learning and development or creating an engaging and supportive work environment?

Educators and Teachers need to be accountable for the education and care of children, building strong relationships with colleagues, creating an environment that’s inclusive with a sense of belonging for families.

If accountability fails, getting angry and frustrated isn’t the answer. We can say goodbye to excuses and hello to accountably by creating an environment that rewards positive attitudes.


1. Expectations Matter

Amazing leaders are crystal clear about what they expect. Having a two-way conversation about the outcomes expected, stating how these are going to be achieved and identifying the measures for success will provide the foundations for accountability.

Discussions should clarify expectation around performance, attitudes and behaviours. Excuses will flourish If expectations are unclear or roles and responsibilities are poorly defined.


2. Allocate resources

What skills and resources do Educators need to meet the expectations? Do they need extra prep time or additional learning and development?  Perhaps they need some mentoring or coaching? Allocating resources are essential if you’re going to ask for accountability in return.  Resources can also include an appropriate level of authority. If we delegate all responsibility and no authority we’re setting people up to fail.


3. Decide what success looks like

Nothing is more frustrating than being let down. However, it’s completely avoidable. During your conversation about expectations, agree on weekly milestones with clear measurable objective targets. Targets can be as simple or as complex as you like. A simple measure could be to have three meaningful interactions with families for each Educator in your room per week.


4. Give Coaching Feedback

Honest and ongoing feedback is critical. Educators need to know where they stand. To ensure targets are being met, ask a simple question in your weekly meeting. “How are your relationships with parents in your room? What have you done which moves towards meaningful relationships?

If targets are off track, discuss immediately. Brainstorm a solution and identify a fix.


5. Use questions to prompt for accountability

If you’ve been clear with steps 1 – 4, you’ve done what you need to support high performance. Now you can start to prompt for accountability.

Telling the Educator what to do simply condones their lack of accountability. Use questions to prompt for a change in attitude.

  • What’s one thing you can do today that will get this project back on track?
  • What steps can you take today to get this task completed?
  • If you are going to try to get this done. What should we do first?

By asking prompting questions hopefully you’ll be moving the Educator from excuses to accountability.  These 5 steps are the building blocks to create a service of accountability. A strong culture is created when the steps are used in sequence. If you miss any one, accountability will fall through the gap.

Having a culture of accountability will deliver immeasurable benefits for the service. You’ll see your team take responsibility for their actions and outcomes. With these new strategies in place, you’ll have a team with a positive attitude to work, takes ownership and shows responsibility.



About the author:

Adrian Pattra is a management consultant with a Master of Education (Ed. Psychology). He is currently facilitating a new webinar series designed for managers and leaders “Educator Accountability: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide”





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FREE COVID – 19 Leadership Q and A

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Leading Educators Through Change

With services experiencing unprecedented pressures and disruption, clear communication and good leadership have never been more important. We hosted a 45 min free webinar on leading teams through the challenging times of COVID-19.



  • Unpacking Educator Emotions to Change
  • Different Perspectives on Change
  • Barriers to Change
  • Support for Agility
  • Way of Working through Disruption

A participant handout is used during this presentation. Click the link below to download the handout prior to watch the webinar. Ensure you have the handout printed prior the watching the webinar.