Long Road of Loneliness

A rather compelling case has been made for the ‘unnatural’ introduction and flawed recruitment processes of school principals in South Africa. Tony Bush noted that “school leaders begin their professional careers as teachers and progress to headship via a range of leadership tasks and roles” (Tony Bush et al. 2011).*

This “exit” from their familiar teacher network of friends have not been extensively researched, but it is very likely that the new “tasks and roles” (Tony Bush et al. 2011)* of the ‘new journey’ for the principal comes with a range of complex psychological ramifications of which loneliness is a real possibility. Alone he must fight for the school’s financial survival. While everyone else sleeps their full 8 hours a day, she is up in the middle of the night, in solitary pursuit for solutions to teacher shortages, large class sizes and a never-ending set of demands from the department of education, the parents and the community.

This lonely road feels even worse in the absence of a home, a hub of comrades wherein she can be herself and find support from peers who can support with strength and upliftment that leads to rejuvenation and empowerment.

Truthfully, too few leaders have access to, or are bold enough to participate in such a needed ecosystem and too many leaders believe the myth that they are untouchable – unaffected by the perils of loneliness. The truth, of course, stands tall against this myth.

How then, does one lead wisely in a world where loneliness is a real threat?


Bush, T et al. (2011)  Preparing new principals in South Africa: the ACE: School Leadership Programme1, http://sajournalofeducation.co.za/index.php/saje/article/viewFile/356/236 (Accessed 8 March, 2016)

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