The Leadership Journey of School Captains

The Leadership Journey of School Captains

“If you have a strong relationship with your team, then they have trust in you. If they have trust in you, they will communicate with you. And that’s how you build your teamwork.”

Taylem Barnard


Progressing from managing a team of 10-20 to leading a cohort of 1300 would be a daunting role even for the most experienced professional. While the 2020 Captains of Central Coast Grammar School certainly made their fair share of mistakes, they are here today to proudly share their successful leadership journey as school captains.


Taylem Barnard is a competitive swimmer, plays three musical instruments and loves her two long-haired chihuahuas to bits. The DiSC Profile Tool identified that she is an ‘S’ for Steadiness. This confirms Taylem is approachable, open minded, accepting and never shies away from a challenge. She leads by example to establish respect, which is evident with how she, as the captain of the swim team, naturally organises the younger children and gives them encouraging pep talks at squad events. Being named the first ever grade 11 captain of the first school netball team in 2019 is proof that Taylem has the drive and determination needed to become an effective leader. She was re-elected for this role in 2020.


Robert Bacon is a keen cricket player and his love for building has led him to work as a handyman throughout the school year. The DiSC Profile Tool identified that he is a ‘D’ for Dominant. This confirmed that he is driven, focused and direct which leads him to get the best out of everyone. Robert learnt his first leadership lessons from a young age managing the backstage operations for the school production and owes a lot of his skills to the foundation established by the Rotary Youth Program of Enrichment (RYPEN) weekend he attended during Grade 10.


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At the beginning of their leadership journey they were asked “What is something you want to change in the school community?” and their answer was to achieve cohesion between the junior, middle and senior areas. This is something which had never been achieved before. Armed with an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, which gave insight into what motivated them on an individual level and how they could best work together, they launched their Environmental Project.


The first step was to get comfortable with the uncomfortable and scheduled in feedback sessions with each other. By doing this they identified that Taylem tended to fluff around and worry about things that didn’t need worrying about and Robert had a tendency to be bossy and take control. If they were going to inspire a leadership team and build a sustainable legacy they needed to get clear on how these traits could be used to complement each other.


Leading fellow peers and inspiring 17 and 18-year-olds to communicate and work well together is not easy. Taylem and Robert used resilience and adaptability to help them get used to and thrive within their new high-ranking position of authority.


It would be remiss not to mention the COVID dynamic. Taylem and Robert managed to constantly pivot their strategies and, during isolation, keep up a healthy engagement with their cohort, even though they weren’t physically there to see them. They were determined to not lose the relationship they had worked so hard to build.


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Young people can open our minds and help older generations view the world through a different lens. In today’s episode Taylem and Robert leave us with their top four leadership principles which they feel will deliver the best possible outcomes. Although these were shared for the 2021 School Leader’s, I am pretty confident those within The Culture of Leadership (TCoT) community will find this insightful and relevant advice for building culture, leadership and teamwork within any ambitious organisation.


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