Principal for the day

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1 December 2020

Monique as student principal for the dayWhat would you do as principal for a day? Monique Davood from St Columba’s College, Essendon, recently found out that there’s much to learn from seeing the school from a different perspective.

As part of leadership development at the college, the Year 9 student was selected to shadow principal Rita Grima for a day. The aspiring lawyer reflected on her experience as principal and the lessons she took away.

I was given the honour of being Ms Grima’s shadow as Student Principal for the Day. I joined Ms Grima to participate in so many fun leadership adventures, such as online meetings with the college’s 2021 Year 7 students, and an in-person meeting with the archivists in the archives to see where the college’s confidential files, beautiful uniform items and historical artefacts are kept.

The main lessons I learnt from this humbling experience are how communication, teamwork and values are the fundamental aspects required to be a great principal and leader.

Leaders must be effective communicators to be a success. By joining Ms Grima to meet with Mrs Zanic (the college registrar) to ask each other clarification questions about the college’s 2021 student enrolments, I learnt that tasks wouldn’t be completed well or at all with no communication.

Working in teams improves the quality of tasks by gaining insights from team members. Ms Grima’s meeting with Ms Almeida to discuss the upcoming changes to the college’s organisation and communication model taught me that if the teamwork element hadn’t been included in this process, the model wouldn’t have been adjusted in a way that would be most beneficial to St Columba’s College.

Embodying the right values to lead a community effectively is vital for a principal, or other powers of authority. Ms Grima informed me that her values are based on the four main pillars of the college: Catholic faith, learning and teaching, wellbeing and community engagement. Within her role as principal, she believes that being a good listener and a warm relationship-builder with students and staff is how to generate a great working environment. The quality of a leader’s leadership in a workplace would diminish without embodying the appropriate values of the workplace.

These skills Ms Grima has assisted me to develop and improve throughout my time as Student Principal for the Day because these skills are very relevant to achieving my dream of becoming an owner of a commercial law firm. I will use my communication skills in this position as I need to be in contact with my employees to ensure my company is running smoothly throughout all sectors of my business. My teamwork skills will be required to be in constant use to gain my colleagues’ insights to further improve my company. My values will be reflected in my actions and words in everything I do for my company.

The lessons about communication, teamwork and values that I’ve learnt throughout this experience will not only be invaluable to me when I start a commercial law firm, but it’ll also apply to you no matter what career you decide to pursue. If you do go for a leadership position, you’ll be grateful for your decision to put yourself in the driver’s seat. I know this because I am extremely grateful for this opportunity.