top of page
  • Writer's pictureJonathan Roe

Leading with presence: unarmoured, kind and compassionate

In this blog Jaqui Marshall, Head of School at Chiltern Primary School reflects on recent leadership development work facilitated by Maggie Farrar author of Leading with Presence; it's an inside job.

Maggie Farrar’s solution to being the best leaders possible, in today’s ever challenging and complex climate, is to be leaders who are fully present, unarmoured and compassionate.  It’s not to double down on accountability structures and process - it’s about your people skills.  Interesting don’t you think?

Prior to meeting Maggie we each read her book, Leading with Presence; it's an inside job, and read it.  I would thoroughly recommend it as an aid to reflecting on what being present means; how to become unarmoured and compassionate leaders.


On day one we gathered in eager anticipation to see how we could further develop ourselves as authentic leaders, building on the principles set out in the Thrive Charter.  Maggie’s persistent challenge was to sense ourselves armouring up and resisting having to be open and sharing our feelings and difficulties.  We thought carefully about what being present mean to each of us?  Are we always on our own agenda, working on autopilot, thinking about the next job or the next meeting or the next conversation, or thinking about the next email whizzing around our heads, or are we present, calm and authentic and in the moment?  Are we fully aware, able to listen deeply and aware of what our body language is saying?  Lots of discussion took place, practical activities to support being a mindful leader and unpicking what being present means for each of us. The armour started to disappear…

Day two built on this further detailing the fact that we all ‘armour up’ when we are in fear or overwhelmed.  We learned from Maggie that it is not the fear that gets in the way of authentic courageous leadership, but it is the armour we put on, sometimes unknowingly, when we are afraid and go into transformational mode.  Maggie shared her expertise with us and helped us learn how to be vulnerable leaders, authentic and unarmoured so we can lead bravely with kindness and compassion to others and more importantly to ourselves - ‘attention balance’ she calls it.  Her book details this further with a range of practical strategies to develop ourselves, teams and our school communities.

The two days have equipped us with a range of strategies and skills to support ourselves to be authentic, unarmoured and present leaders who can feel confident and can ‘Dare to Lead’ (Brene Brown) our schools.  ‘Learning to ride the highs and lows of our days being kind to ourselves - and being radically accepting.’

Our thanks goes to Maggie for a truly inspirational two days and to Priory Primary School for hosting the session. Perfect refreshments and a space to reflect, walk and talk with our peers from across our seven primary schools.


bottom of page