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‘Singhing’ the tune of leadership: Principal and business leader become ‘Players’ in partnership

What do Sundrie Singh, Principal of Northdale Primary in Pietermaritzburg and Janine Player, a Financial Planner, have in common? A shared vision to create #TheFutureWeWant – of course! To bring this vision to life, Singh and Player embarked on Citizen Leader Lab’s flagship leadership development programme, Partners for Possibility. The award-winning 12-month programme pairs principals from schools in under-resourced communities with business leaders from the business  sector. Principals receive the support and skills needed to lead change and mobilise communities around their schools, and business leaders develop new leadership skills through exposure to the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world of the South African public school.

Northdale Primary is located in Kwa-Zulu Natal’s second largest district, uMgungundlovu, where unemployment is estimated at 26%, and access to water and sanitation can be unpredictable. Although Northdale Primary caters for over 600 learners from surrounding indigent communities. Many of these learners rely on the school’s feeding scheme for adequate nutrition.

Singh says she joined Partners for Possibility to empower herself as a leader and to interact with other leaders, all in the pursuit of life-long learning. ‘’I wanted to be able to lead my school in a post-covid world,’’ says Singh.

Reflecting on her 12-month partnership with Player, Singh concedes that it was not always easy to show up as a leader. She believes, however, that it was a necessary learning curve: ‘’Learning the skills was one thing but implementing them on the ground was not as easy. But I was gratified to learn that I was not alone. Each step of the programme made me a better leader,’’ says Singh.

The Northdale principal has put her newly acquired leadership skills to good use, by ensuring that the School Governing Body (SGB) and the School Management Team (SMT) also benefited from  her Partners for Possibility journey. She says she has also learnt the art of delegation: ‘’I not only gave the SGB and SMT feedback on my Partners for Possibility experience, but actually involved them each step of the way. Now, the SMT has taken up roles I was performing. I no longer have to be this great leader doing everything on my own,’’ Singh explains.

Even though their partnership formally ended in October 2022, both partners are keen to continue to work together to improve the school: ‘’We have some unfinished business,’’ laughs Singh, “I know that Janine will be of value to me, guiding me in making informed decisions as a principal,’’ she adds.

Be like Sundrie Singh and Janine Player. Become a Citizen Leader today!


Let’s work together to create #TheFutureWeWant