Big 8 Leadership Foundations (Nov 2023)

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Welcome to the start of your Big 8 journey!

‘Everyone wants to change the world, but no one wants to change themselves’ (Tolstoy, L)

This quote sits at the core of what we, at Big Education, believe about leadership.

Too often, in education, we see ourselves and others as ‘experts’, meaning that leaders don’t always act in situations with the best intentions. This can create a defensive culture, where contributions do not feel welcomed or valued.

We believe that a huge part of being a leader is the ability to reflect on yourself and show a sustained commitment to achieving self-actualisation, as well as living and breathing the mantra that all people should be seen, heard and valued as a foundation. If fostered well and by everybody, this creates a culture of inclusivity, openness and people feeling they can ‘bring their true self to work’. We call this ‘leadership of the heart’ and believe this should, quite literally, be the beating heart of any school.

In an ever-changing and complex world, we believe that we need dynamism and new solutions and that is achieved by an ethical approach. We call this ‘leadership of the heart’. Heart leadership is about understanding yourself and others, it is about culture and believing in and empowering others.

What should you expect from this short course?

This course is an introduction to the Big 8 are ‘our leadership foundations’ – a set of behaviours, mindsets, cultures, and approaches which are the foundations of and underpin what it means to lead in a ‘Big Leadership’ way.

To prepare you for embarking on the learning journey of understanding the Big 8, we ask you to complete the two activities in this course before joining us in person for the development days.

We invite you to read the Big 8 Research Paper which delves into the detail about the evidence and theoretical underpinnings of the Big 8, however, this is completely optional. We will lightly touch on the theory during the development days. The paper will be available and may make more sense to you after the training.

We appreciate all new users will be at varying levels of ‘a way of being’ and technical skill of using the Big 8, and every starting point is welcomed and all levels are considered equal.

We expect this to take 45-60 minutes and you are welcome to revisit at any time. If you experience any difficulties, please get in touch at

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