Dealing with disappointment – School leadership positions


Applying for leadership positions at school can be both exciting as well as daunting. 

It takes courage to expose yourself to the rigours of the application process and ultimately letting your family, peers and staff know the outcome. 

Unfortunately, in most cases there are more applicants for positions than positions available and there will be those students who miss out. For those students who do miss out, there can be feelings of embarrassment, bewilderment, disappointment and sometimes anger. If you fall into the position of missing out, here are some tips on how to deal with the situation.

1. Acknowledge your disappointment
Acknowledge your own disappointment. It is highly possible that you spent hours upon hours working on your application and involved parents, siblings, friends and teachers in the process. You may feel that you have not only let yourself down, but also them.

In most cases this will not be true. Your parents, friends and teachers will be disappointed for you but not in you – there is a difference. Find a trusted person and let them know how you are feeling. It is okay feel angry, sad, disappointed and bewildered and it is important to let someone know.

2. Recognise the success of the successful applicants
When you find out who has been successful, congratulate them on their success. This can be in person with a handshake or via email or SMS or social media. This is important for a number of reasons:
  • It frames you as a fair sport and cements your positive reputation.
  • If they see you as a supportive team player, when the time comes and they require assistance they may seek you out for your counsel. During these times you may still be able to share some of your ideas and watch them come into fruition.
  • Their success will be based on the team around them. If you are part of this successful team it will also positively reflect on you over time.
3. What not to do
It is very important that you show nobility and dignity in your loss. No one likes a poor loser. Despite your feelings it is very important that you do not do any of the following:
  • Disseminate negative information about the successful applicant/s. Such comments are demeaning to you and the successful applicants.
  • Disempower the position that you applied for. Comments such as “Prefects don’t do anything anyway” (which is untrue) are unhelpful. Such comments demean these leadership positions and these positions are important to our school’s culture and success.
  • Get involved with Facebook/Skype conversations about who got what and why? Conducting an online post-mortem is negative and again reflects badly upon you and those involved in the conversation. Keep in mind your Digital Footprint.
4. What to do
Whilst it may seem like an unhelpful euphemism, it is important that you learn and grow from your disappointment. Find the relevant staff and ask what you could/should do next time when you apply for similar positions to gain a greater chance of success. This may include:
  • Refining your application letter
  • Reformatting your CV
  • Practising your interviewing skills
  • Researching the position more
  • Gaining more experience

Email or see in person the staff involved in the application process and thank them for the opportunity to apply.

5. Keep applying for positions

Even if you are in Year 12, and there are no more positions available for you at school, keep applying for positions when you are at University, TAFE or at work. Practise you get in the application and interviewing process will strengthen your capacity to achieve success at a later date.

Life will undoubtedly have other disappointments and your mental toughness and resilience will be enhanced by taking risks such as those you have taken. Keep trying, keep giving it a go, keep forging ahead – success will come.