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About this study

Lambert (2020) states that leaders’ emotional awareness is reduced when they move into middle leadership roles, returning to the former level as they progress to headship. Traditional notions of middle leadership focus on task-orientated performance rather relationship-orientated functions.

This is supported by advances in neuroscience with evidence that task-orientated activities trigger a range of regions of the brain, typically grouped under the heading of Task Positive Network (TPN). Whereas, relationship-orientated activities operate different regions of the brain under the term Default Mode Network (DMN). Roy et al., (2012) states that the primary functions of the DMN circuits are self-related processing, autobiographical memory, perception, cognitive representation of emotion, representation of value/reward, emotion self-regulation, and autonomic processing.

Shulmanetal (1997a, b); (Duncan and Owen, 2000); Fox et al., (2005); Owen et al.,(2005); and Van Overwalle (2011) all agree that the TPN is associated with a wide variety of non-social tasks including those involving focused attention, working memory, language, logical reasoning, mathematical reasoning, and causal/mechanical reasoning.

Fox et al., (2005) highlight the anti-correlation between these two networks. Stating that when TPN is activated, DMN is subsequently deactivated. This suggests that when a leader is focused on a task-oriented role, their ability and desire to attend to the relationship needs of their followers is diminished.

In order to mitigate the effects of DMN, Lambert (2020) suggests that middle leaders should engage in relationship-orientated tasks on a daily basis. This research seeks to explore whether coaching can have a positive impact on middles leaders to recognise emotions in others.

What will I be asked to do?

We are specifically focusing on those who are in middle leadership roles within schools. This could be departmental leadership (head of department or second in department), key stage lead or pastoral lead or any other leadership role that reports to a member of the organisation’s senior leadership team.

  1. All individuals will undertake an emotional recognition test. This will provide a baseline score.
  2. Individuals will be divided into two groups:
    1. One group will continue working as they currently do.
    2. The other group will receive a series of activities to complete over the duration of the study.
  3. At the end of the study, all participants will report the emotional recognition test.

The length of the study will vary for each individual depending on when you start the study. However, we hope that everyone would have completed the three stages by the half term break in the autumn term.

If you have any questions about this study, then please do not hesitate to connect me (,uk)

What will you do with my data?

Your data will not be shared with anyone else. Only those conducting the study will have access to your data and this will be on a password protected system. You will not be named at any point during this study nor will you or your organisation be identifiable as part of this study. We will be collecting demographic information, and this is purely to enable us to communicate with you during the course of the study.

What do I do next?

If you wish to participate in this study, then please click the link below.

You can also forward this onto others in your school or professional network. The more people we have the more accurate the results will be.

Before starting the study. Please ensure that you can see and hear the video below:


Also, you will need to ensure that you have either Firefox 26+ Internet Explorer 9+ Chrome 19+ Opera 10.6+ or Safari 3.1+

The start the by completing the baseline emotional recognition test, please click below: