SA Education Department CEO shares leadership thoughts: “Create space for other perspectives”

by Freya Lucas

August 01

Speaking with The Adelaide Advertiser, Chief Executive of the South Australian Education Department Rick Persse shared his perspectives on leading and managing a variety of teams. 

 

Mr Persse has held his position for three years, commencing his role in June 2016. He is responsible for 30,000 staff, and a budget of $3.5 billion. 

 

He is acknowledged as the instigator of major educational reform in South Australia, including a strategic plan which sees every employee across South Australia focused on five key areas: 

 

  • challenging learning

 

  • quality people

 

  • strong engagement

 

  • better support

 

  • targeted resources.

 

A core focus in the space of early learning, in the strategic plan, centres on parental engagement; “We engage parents from before a child is born. We invite parents and carers into our schools and preschools. We actively involve families in their child’s learning.”

 

Speaking about his perspectives on leadership, Mr Persse said that creating space for other perspectives to be heard was a core leadership philosophy – be they internal to the organisation, or external. 

In addition, he noted, it is important that leaders “don’t pretend to be the smartest person in the room”. 

Other core principles which drive Mr Persse’s leadership include having a high degree of trust and confidence in the team, being clear and consistent with expectations, and avoiding rapid fire change. 

 

When managing staff through times of change, transition and challenge, Mr Persse recommended being clear about the ‘why’ behind decisions, providing a lot of support, and treating people with respect.

 

“You see the way people respond in leadership decisions and sometimes you see exactly how you would want to do it and occasionally how you would definitely NOT want to do it,” he told The Advertiser

 

For those wanting to progress in their career, Mr Persse said a core attribute was a willingness to take on challenging projects or tasks, adding “be focused on solutions, not problems”. He recommended that those wanting to get ahead should remain focused on the end goal, stay authentic, and be willing to be a good team player. 

 

To read the full article focused on Mr Persse’s thoughts, as presented by The Adelaide Advertiser, please see here

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