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How to be a better RTO leader

May 11, 2021

Leading a team or project can be a challenge, especially when factoring in compliance, business growth, student management and so much more. The good news is there’s a lot of simple yet highly effective things you can do to consistently be a better leader in your training organisation. 

How to make better decisions

You’re clearly already a great decision maker – you’ve decided to read this article! Humour aside, we know the decision making process should begin with the end in mind. When you clicked on this article, you likely had the end-goal in mind of learning something new and useful to take with you into your leadership style. Knowing your RTO’s core end goals is the essential first step to informing strategy, marketing and sales campaigns, and business-as-usual work. Figuring out where you want to see your training organisation go over a specified time period helps to discern the ‘why’ of your business. Using the core business purpose as the foundation of all business choices and strategic decisions will ensure your organisation works smarter, not harder in achieving goals and growth.

Reduce overwhelm

Reducing overwhelm can seem difficult when the workload gets heavy, but consistently maintaining simple practices can be the key to keeping calm and carrying on. Using a project management tool like Asana, or just keeping track of things in an online calendar such as a Google calendar, can make all the difference in time management and prioritisation. Using tools like these means you can set due dates, goals, track your progress and more, having better control over projects and tasks.

If you constantly find yourself thinking you don’t have enough time to do everything, you may be taking on too much at once. Schedule in breaks, including a proper lunch break, to slow down and smell the roses. Having a clear, calm mindset when working is key to effective productivity.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Optimising team skills and assigning clear responsibilities is important for ensuring your team works cohesively. This can be as simple as having a central place, like a project management tool, to see what individuals and teams are working on and their goals. As a leader, ensuring each team member is pulling their weight, effectively communicating and working well cohesively can also reduce overwhelm for everyone.

Nobody’s perfect – we’re all in this together

One way to ensure teams work together efficiently and effectively is to remove the expectation of perfectionism. Some team leaders and managers find themselves becoming perfectionists, and start to micro-manage and take on work that a different role in the team should be doing. When you start to criticise co-workers for not meeting perfectionist standards, a negative work environment is created[1]. Building trust and communicative relationships with your team is the best way to combat the negative effects of perfectionism, and will save you days of burn-out and work exhaustion. 

One way to foster a good team environment and work ethic is to always be open to everyone’s ideas and to ask questions that challenge ideas in a positive way, such as ‘what if [we took this idea to the next level?]’. This will ensure everyone is not only comfortable with contributing, but will also come up with new ideas that challenge the status quo that could lead to increased growth for your RTO. Creating an environment of excitement and innovation will naturally lead to great work. 

Dealing with conflict

With any team, eventually there will be some level of conflict. The best way to handle this as a leader is to listen with the intention to understand, rather than to react. Try to understand the situation objectively, and identify areas of disagreement and agreement. Using active listening and responding with a fair plan of action to resolve the issue makes an assertive statement to all involved that you’re making the best leadership choices.

Find your leadership style

Although leaders shouldn’t be restricted to any specific leadership style, following basic leadership processes can be helpful in maintaining assertiveness and effective leadership. For example, strategic leadership is a desirable leadership style as it ensures everyone is supported. In general, showing your passion for VET, the student experience and RTO innovation can inspire and motivate your team. This article by HubSpot outlines 8 different leadership styles and which style you currently use.

Use the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

You’ve probably heard of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and it's so famous for a reason. Covey focuses on inward success as the foundation for success, and covers the fundamental strategies to become a highly effective leader. Read more about the 7 habits of a highly effective training organisation here

Becoming a more effective RTO leader will not only create a better working environment for yourself and your co-workers, but it will also have a positive impact on the output of your business. Make sure to bookmark this article so you can come back and get some leadership inspiration whenever you need it!


  1. The key to overcoming perfectionism at work

Want to know more about leadership in VET and growth for your RTO? Take a look at these articles: 

If you’re looking to take your training organisation to the next level this year, find out how aXcelerate can help you transform your business here

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