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Well-being for Leadership

The Institute for Education Leadership (IEL) of Ontario engages in professional collaboration and collaborative inquiry as an essential approach for reaching its priority goal of promoting and supporting effective education leadership.


As a first step in the inquiry, the IEL Steering Committee members conducted research and consulted experts to inform its definition of Well-being for Leadership which is as follows:

Well-being is a positive sense of self, spirit and belonging that we feel when our cognitive, emotional, social, spiritual and physical needs are being met. It is supported through equity and respect for our diverse identities and strengths. Well-being is about helping school and system leaders become resilient, so that they can make positive and healthy choices to support learning and achievement both now and in the future.


This definition of Well-being for Leadership comprises five domains of well-being.


The development of the body impacted by:

  • physical activity
  • sleep patterns
  • healthy eating
  • healthy life choices.

The development of abilities and skills such as:

  • critical thinking
  • problem solving
  • creativity
  • the ability to be flexible and innovative.

This involves learning about:

  • experiencing emotions
  • understanding how to recognize, manage and cope emotions.

The development of:

  • self-awareness
  • sense of belonging, collaboration
  • relationships with others
  • communication skills.

The opportunity and time to:

  • live a purposeful life in service to others
  • maintaining our own balance and resilience.


The IEL engaged the community of Ontario school and system leaders in a conversation about how to support positional leaders with their well-being, in schools and in their districts. Using Thoughtexchange, the IEL invited school and system leaders to share thoughts, rate the thoughts of others and discover results about the question:

Thoughtexchange, an online collaboration platform consists of three phases. Phase one invites everyone to share their thoughts to an open-ended question; phase two is where participants see all thoughts and assigns stars to the ideas that they think are important and in phase three which is the “Discover Phase” results are shared and everyone learns what is important to the group.

School and system leaders responded to the following question:

In your district, what are some effective ways in which the well-being of school and system leaders are supported? What other supports are needed?

Thoughtexchange survey results:

493 participants; 452 thoughts and 10 551 ratings provided the IEL with a Well-being for Leadership Summary report.

Summary Report

The IEL would like to thank all those who participated in the on-line collaboration by sharing thoughts and/or rating thoughts. The data provided in the report by school and system leaders was used to inform the IEL’s next step in the Well-being for Leadership cycle of inquiry.

From the results, three major themes were established:

1.Building Capacity

a.Individual Well-being – Starting with Ourselves and Others

b.The Power of Vulnerability and Belonging (Brené Brown)

c.Daring leadership assessment:

d.Strengthening the PLRs

2.Collaboration and Communication

3.Work Intensification

    1. Working Conditions
    2. Staffing
    3. Flexibility


To support leaders in strengthening their own well-being and that of others, the IEL has developed workshop presentations that include slides and detailed notes and instructions for their use.

The first of three presentations, “Building Capacity” has the following outcomes:

  • Participants will engage with colleagues in small and large group formats to:
  • Learn about the IEL’s Leadership for Well-being inquiry
  • Understand the IEL’s definition of Well-being
  • Review the Personal Leadership Resources (PLRs) of the Ontario Leadership Framework (OLF)
  • Make connections between Leadership for Well-being and the PLRs
  • Engage in activities focused on strengthening their PLRs
  • Understand the importance of strengthening the PLRs as essential to leaders’ well-being
  • Identify next steps for strengthening the PLRs and in turn leader well-being.

Professional Leadership Associations collaborated in the compilation of resources to support Well-being for Leadership