Awhinatanga: Guiding and supporting

Awhinatanga is about having empathy with groups and individuals in the school community. By being able to appreciate the point of view of others, leaders can help build a strong learning culture.

Awhinatanga refers to the level of interpersonal care from school leadership that is evident in staff relationships. Awhinatanga is based on empathy from the top, and involves the principal’s ability to sense the feelings, needs, and perspectives of others. Principals show the way they value others by recognising and responding to what staff do and how they feel. Empathetic caring for the whole person in terms of both personal and work situations builds mutual understandings and cements productive relationships. By recognising the individual natures and circumstances of staff members, principals strengthen trust and connectedness across the staff as a whole.

The principal also has a key role in guiding and supporting others to step up as leaders. This is achieved by recognising and developing the leadership potential of teachers in different areas and levels of the school. Creating opportunities for leadership skills to be developed by teachers, students, and other members of the school community helps strengthen a school-wide commitment to achieving the agreed outcomes. This is important not only for building positive relationships, but for growing and sustaining the school’s leadership capacity.

Support for teaching and learning is also generated by allocating material and human resources in ways that are aligned to the agreed goals and expectations of the school. Principals who plan for and provide strategic resourcing have an effect on the quality of student outcomes.

From Kiwi Leadership for Principals – Qualities 

Related links

Leadership roles

Whenu - key roles of leadership in Tū Rangatira (English)

Ngā whenu – ngā tūranga mātāmua o te kaitātaki in Tū Rangatira (Māori)


Exploring the "social" personal leadership resources (scroll to title)

This guide in the Ideas into Action series looks at perceiving and managing emotions.

Ontario Ministry of Education, 2014

Tell a colleague | Back to top