We can all be a force for good

Like many of us I went to bed last night deeply concerned about the outcome of the USA presidential election; waking early this morning to see that Donald Trump was indeed likely to be elected was a real shock.

I felt deeply disturbed, but probably not surprised. After all Brexit had happened so in terms of voting outcomes we now know the pollsters really can no longer predict with any accuracy at all.

What really disturbs me is the concrete evidence that what I had believed was a strong and better societal liberalisation and globalisation over my lifetime is a mirage. OK – so we now have in place many laws and regulations about diversity, anti racism, anti homophobia and pro-environmental protection and pro inclusion etc but what, as a society, we haven’t done is changed the underlying values and beliefs of what so many others hold dear.

Our values drive our behaviours!

And this is what has happened in the USA as it did in the UK over Brexit. The values clearly articulated by Donald Trump that are about anti diversity, anti gay, anti inclusion etc and are about protectionism, pandering to fear of change and xenophobia and simple selfishness have drawn millions of people to in effect come out and say that they share those values.

I am not stupid; I know that we have been through the years since 2008 where salaries and incomes have not increased, indeed they have decreased in real terms; I know that we are into times where our children may well be more financially disadvantaged than my generation. I am not well-informed on USA employment issues but I know that there is nothing like the more generous annual leave, sick pay or maternity leave and benefits that we have in the UK. I am aware too that in real terms income levels of the employed in the USA (as in the UK) have fallen. This means those in work no doubt feel they work even harder, are even less valued and others from other countries have “taken their jobs” – the same spin that the media portray in the UK.

So that media spin opens the doors to millions of people feeling that they want to “take back control” by voting for Brexit or voting for Donald Trump. Is this really “taking back control”?

So why have I just heard the one and only “presidential” speech from Hillary Clinton this afternoon when she was finally authentic and impassioned and expressed the right values? She made the point that we should “never stop believing that fighting for what is right is always right”. If this was the real Hillary Clinton, this was how she needed to campaign. As a woman I get why she didn’t really attract the female vote; I too understand that she is seen to be part of the establishment and so many voters expressed their anger by voting for Trump.

Integrity

In reality, Donald Trump (like Farage is authentic and has integrity – really he / they do!) The definition of integrity is being true to your values – it is the actual values that so many of us disagree with! But that authenticity is what attracted all those millions of voters whose values are aligned with Farage and Brexit or Trump and anti immigration and anti-globalisation (and the rest!!). Brexit was also apparently driven by anti immigration, selfishness and so on.

So this morning I felt outraged; not helped by the fact that I had been a bit of a wimp personally in the last 24 hours with an infection and an injured leg and was feeling sorry for myself. What could I do? Was I just going to be angry at this proof that the world is still heavily populated by large numbers of people whose values I am fundamentally at odds with?

A force for good:

No – I remembered my own previously cited model of “microwave leadership” and that I reminded myself that I need to continue to be a “force for good” in my own networks and relationships i.e. in my own circle of influence. If I (and loads of others of you) continue to fight for what is right, to do the right things, to show compassion, to help others and to “pay it forward” there really will come time when there is a tipping point for a growing movement underpinned by the right values. Did you hear the values that Angela Merkel articulated one by one today in her speech welcoming Donald Trump to the presidency, explaining that the valued relationship between Germany  & USA was based on these values? Good for her – she had the courage to spell out how Germany needed and intended to work with the Trump regime.

Thankfully (in this instance) the Founding Fathers of the USA rather disempowered the president in terms of the constitution they drafted as Barack Obama found; but Trump is a different beast to Obama and of course he has his own party in power in the Senate which Obama didn’t have. That may well make a huge difference.

Donald Trump and his supporters will only have power if we give it to them.

I really do believe therefore that we all in our own ways and in our own networks need to be our own “force for good” – to be professional, to use our expertise with compassion, to provide help and care to those that we can, do our best and to be appreciative of the strengths, talents and contributions of others and what they give. We do this within our own circle of influence i.e. in our own networks. We don’t need permission from anyone to do it – we just do it and share the good values and behaviours and actions.

Microwave leadership model:

If lots and lots of us do this, then like a microwave that heats by vibration of adjacent molecules until all molecules in a food portion are vibrating and heated, we can heat up the right values and together we can lead a movement to arrive at a tipping point of genuine liberal and societal change.

Let’s each commit to being our own force for good and encouraging those we know to do likewise. Lets together lead the change we want to see.

I got back on with this approach today in my own small way.

As Hillary Clinton said this afternoon “never stop believing that fighting for what is right is always right”.

#keeponfighting

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Thankyou #teamUHW #teamcardiology #teamnephrology

https://www.justgiving.com/teams/UHW

I have to admit that 2016 has been a personally tough year for me.

It has brought me into developing an unexpectedly close working relationship with University Hospital of Wales (UHW) and a number of departments including cardiology and nephrology!

From heart attack, pulmonary oedema, and stent, anaemia and kidney disease (and more) – through it all I have received amazing support and care from the NHS.

I am indeed remarkably fortunate to have come through the other side stronger, happier and with even more clarity about what really matters. I am hugely appreciative of all those who have helped me – be they staff from the NHS or family and friends.

My sponsorship plan is to swim 100 lengths (in effect a mile) and to do so in a measured manner, building strength and stamina by doing 0.25 mile per day over each of 4 consecutive days, ending on Sunday 9th October. This approach to daily swimming has already helped me to re-train my brain into pacing myself better and going for “little and often” rather than further and further and faster and faster! It has had a major positive impact on me re-building towards health.

My intention of doing the sponsored swim is to mark my journey from critical illness to adaptation and recovery, to thank all the fab staff at UHW and to raise awareness of both heart and kidney disease.

I therefore decided that I’d like to try and raise funds for both the British Heart Foundation (@theBHF) and Kidney Wales Foundation (@KidneyWales) so I have created a “team page” and set a target of £1000 (or £500 to each).

https://www.justgiving.com/teams/UHW

Thank you to all of you who have been so supportive during the year and in terms of this sponsorship request.

You can donate via Just Giving https://www.justgiving.com/teams/UHW

Thank you!!

Barbara x

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“Forever trust in who you are” – great advice for all in leadership roles

This haunting melody performed by Scala Choir & Kolacny Brothers of Metallica’s song “Nothing Else Matters” is wonderful:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1Rg6nuZoQM. Have a listen and enjoy.

Whilst preparing a workshop in North Wales on Appreciative Inquiry, I was listening to this and it just highlights so well how to approach AI as a change management tool i.e. just trust in “who you are” and be open to ideas and others.

The major assumption of Appreciative Inquiry is that in every organisation something works and that change can be managed through the identification of what works, and the analysis of how to do more of what works. It is kind of counter-intuitive to our cultural belief that we look for problems and then try and solve them.

I believe strongly that the principles of AI can be applied to us as human beings and as leaders, so that AI is a tool that individuals can apply to great effect – but only if we are really open to truly being ourselves; sharing the real “us” with others as well as being open to the ideas and input of others.

I like the notion that this emotive track of “Nothing Else Matters” encourages us all as individuals and leaders to remember that no matter what happens in life, or who we meet or what we do – it is just so important to remember “who we are” as a person and not let what other people think about us change us from being ourselves.

It’s a reminder to us all to simply be “true to ourselves”, be the person we truly are and if we always remember exactly who we are, then “nothing else matters”.

Being “true to who you are” is the exact definition of integrity. Leaders with integrity inspire trust and confidence in them from others; they build trusted relationships – because in whatever the business, team, family, relationship or organisation “nothing else matters”.

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What is Conversational Leadership? #supperconversationatffresh Monday 19th September

Supper Conversation – Monday 19th September 2016 18:30 arrival for 19:00, ffresh bar and restaurant, Wales Millennium Centre

Please email back urgently to confirm that you would like to book your place

I hope you have had a lovely summer and enjoyed a break and time with your families?

After a 6 month gap to allow me to recover from very serious illnesses (sponsorship request coming soon about this!!), I am delighted to say that  #supperconversations@ffresh resume again on Monday 19th September.

For those who have not taken part in one of these before, they are relaxed and purposeful conversations over supper where you’ll sit down and chat with people from different walks of life who you wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to chat with. There is a clear topic, lead contributor and careful (but light touch) facilitation. I began them in 2014 as an exemplar of conversational leadership in action and you can read further about them on http://www.learningpathways.info/supper-conversations/

Monday 19th September:”Conversational Leadership – what is it?” The last months have confirmed for me my own belief in the essential value of conversational leadership. I plan to begin some organised research that will also be linked into creating a “conversational leadership” network (simply about bringing diverse people together to have conversations and learning about leadership). I will continue to actively link up those on our Leading Wales Awards network as well as reaching out collaboratively to others.

Monday 17th October: “Stress and well-being – sharing practical tips and insight to manage our own stress and health”

Monday 21st November: “Appreciating our NHS – what else can we do to help?”

The menu choice from ffresh is superb and includes wine / soft drinks on arrival as well as through the supper itself and there is a choice of starters, mains and desserts, concluding with tea, coffee & mints and has now been extended to include individual meat, fish and vegetarian courses. Please let me know your choices and any specific dietary requirements.

 To Start

Beetroot panna cotta with walnuts or

Chicken liver parfait with quince jelly or

Salt cod fritter with fennel and dill mayonnaise

……………………………………………………………………………

Main Course

Welsh lamb rump with butter beans and savoy cabbage or

Fillet of cod with leeks and cockles or

Potato gnocchi with roasted vegetables

…………………………………………………………………………..

Dessert

Chocolate mousse cake with orange compote or

Iced walnut and Brecon Honey parfait with poached pear or

Plum and almond tart

………………………………………………………………………….

Coffee and after dinner mints

 Practicalities:

  • The number of bookings is limited in order that we can facilitate really well a good conversation – this means that it is essential that if you are interested that you book and confirm your place by emailing me as soon as possible
  • The cost is £35.00, which includes wine / soft drinks on arrival and during the meal, a superb 3 course meal with menu choices and great attention to any individual dietary needs, coffee and mints to conclude.
  • On booking, I shall supply an invoice and it is essential that payment is made in advance please to confirm your booking
  • Timing: arrival is for 18:30 and we sit down at 19:00 and will conclude at approximately 20:45/21:00
  • Dress code: smart casual
  • Menu choices are given above and when you book, please let me know of your menu choices and any dietary or access requirements.
  • Outline details of #supperconversations@ffresh: http://www.learningpathways.info/supperconversations.html includes details of future dates
  • Terms and Conditions: http://www.learningpathways.info/supperconversationsatffresh%20terms%20and%20conditions.pdf

I look forward to hearing from you and resuming our conversations.

Best wishes

Barbara

 

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Celebrating outstanding and inspirational Young Leaders in Wales!

Leadership:  surely developing these essential skills must start young and in schools?

No, no – I am definitely not advocating more work for teachers and more additions to the curriculum (let alone assessment)! Schools have always helped develop leadership skills in their young people – it’s just that they may not have always called it that. This is simply a call to articulate more what leadership is and for us to recognise more leadership skills in our young people.

From nursery school to sixth form, there are so many chances to take the lead – on the sports field, in the arts, within classroom work, in enterprise activities, assemblies, charity fund raising projects, being a school prefect etc. All of these opportunities help our children and young people test and try out their own developing leadership skills, as well as to learn from the mistakes that they make along the way. But we don’t tend to talk about it much in this context.

What’s more the “adults” are often more than a bit hesitant about even acknowledging that leadership skills actually exist in the young!

Last year, Joy Ballard was our category winner of “Leadership in the Public Sector”. Many of you of course will know her and recognise her from watching Educating Cardiff, which was shown on Channel 4 in the autumn of last year.

Joy took up her role as Headteacher at Willows High in September 2011.   At that point and following the closure of another school Willows High was the lowest performing school in Wales.  As Headteacher, Joy was responsible for the wellbeing and achievement of every pupil and for ensuring that her team of staff offered a high quality learning experience for all pupils.   Under her leadership Willows became the county’s highest performing school compared to any other in challenging circumstances.

Last year, I asked Joy how her life experience had made her the leader she is today:  “My life experience taught me that without a decent education and good qualifications, very few people are able to achieve their full potential.    I gained my very first qualification when I was 26 and prior to that my life was very difficult.   I lived in poverty as a child and became a young parent to three children and my only means of supporting them was through various part time cleaning jobs.    I wanted a better life for my children so engaged in an adult education course and my life really started from there.   I learned that every child deserves a chance and needs a champion in their corner.” Hearing this it is easy to understand how someone like Joy was attracted to apply to be headteacher at Willows High.

Read more about what Joy explained in her Leadership Journey here.

Teach First is a now well-established charity which is on a mission to close the attainment gap in UK schools and to end educational inequality. Statistically, the stark reality is that 33% of pupils on free school meals achieved 5 A*- C at GCSE compared to 60.5% of all other pupils in the UK.

Each year Teach First trains and supports new teachers to work in primary and secondary schools serving low income communities across the UK.  They know it takes time and persistence to change the story of a child’s lifetime. However, they firmly believe that this can start with the dedication and leadership of a great teacher who inspires a child to work towards the future they want. Clearly Joy Ballard has much in common with Teach First!

Dr Jennifer Owen Adams is the Director of Teach First Cymru. I asked her to explain exactly why Teach First puts “leadership” at the heart of what it does.

“Leadership is at the heart of good teaching. When you teach, you lead; you lead the learning of your pupils, you lead on your own learning and development and you lead by putting in place actions, strategies and behaviours which deliver transformative change for pupils.  Leadership for us is about taking responsibility for your pupils’ learning and executing that responsibility within a values-based dimension: integrity, excellence, humility and partnership. Leadership is also about you taking responsibility for your own learning and having the self possession and self improving mind set to become an excellent practitioner and maintain that excellence. Finally, leadership for us is about leading change; being a progressive thinker and practitioner striving for improvements every day in your classroom, department, school and society.”

Last year, the Leading Wales Awards category winner for the Young Leader (14 -25 years) was Sam Lewis. Sam is the Operations Manager at Randomz and is responsible for all aspects of operations, systems and procedures cutting across all Randomz Enterprises. This includes ensuring provision of employability programmes, supervision of volunteers in specific areas of operation, waste management, budget monitoring and business development in association with the Facility Manager. You can read Sam’s Leadership Journey here.

Now we need you to help us find this year’s inspirational Young Leaders by telling us about the impact of their leadership. Nomination document can be downloaded from www.leadingwalesawards.co.uk/nominate and need to be submitted by Friday March 11th 2016.

Help us identify and celebrate outstanding and inspirational Young Leaders in Wales!

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Leading the way

My thanks to Richard Houdmont (@Rhoudmont) who has written today’s guest blog “Leading the way”:

What exactly is leadership? Everyone can see the effect of a lack of leadership. Integrity is the word that Siân Rees chooses to summarise leadership in one word. Which would you choose? ‘Good’ or ‘bad’? You have to acknowledge that leaders sometimes do ‘bad’ things in order to achieve a ‘good’ objective. Of course it’s a matter of opinion what’s good and bad. There’s no doubt that Nelson Mandela was an exceptional leader, but at one time people would describe him as a freedom fighter, others as a terrorist. Similarly, was David Lloyd George a good leader?

Thankfully Welsh business leaders do not have to take the sort of decisions which faced Nelson Mandela and David Lloyd George, but even so the quality of life for much of the population depends on the skill of our Welsh business leaders. That’s why it’s important to invest in leadership development. Indeed a 2012 McKinsey report suggested that over 90% of CEOs intended increasing their investment in leadership development, because they saw good leadership as fundamental to organisational health.

But what does that in fact mean? A role model; good communicator; a flexible person; decisive; firm? Does the uncertainty regarding what makes a good leader explain why only 43% of CEOs are confident that their investment in leadership development will bear fruit?

Additional research from McKinsey suggests that four traits stand out. On the whole, leaders in organisations with high quality leadership teams are associated with four sorts of behaviour. More than that, these four behaviours accounted for 89% of the difference between strong and weak organisations in terms of leadership.

Leaders must:

  • Be supportive
  • Operate with strong results orientation
  • Seek different perspectives
  • Solve problems effectively

The Leading Wales Awards enter their 12th year and once again the Consortium urges you to tell them about that special person whose leadership is making a substantial difference, by nominating them for an Award.

The judges seek nominees whose leadership is making a real difference in Wales, impacting positively on moving forward their community, business or organisation. The Leading Wales Awards believe that leadership is at all levels in an organisation and they are seeking nominations of people you know whose leadership has real impact, irrespective of their hierarchical role and responsibilities within their business, organisation or community project.

This is an opportunity to nominate (by 11 March 2016) and celebrate Welsh leaders. Go for it!”

www.leadingwalesawards.co.uk

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Confident Leaders transforming Wales #supperconversationatffresh Monday 15th February

Supper Conversation – Monday 15th February 2016 18:30 arrival for 19:00, ffresh bar and restaurant, Wales Millennium Centre

Please email back urgently to confirm that you would like to book your place

The 2016 Leading Wales Awards are “live” for nominations – once again we are looking for those special people you know (in all sectors and at all hierarchical levels) whose leadership is making a real difference in Wales. You may like to read my blog entry that I wrote at the conclusion of the 2015 Awards: https://reflectionsonleading.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/confident-welsh-leaders-truly-transforming-wales/

This year we are delighted that our charity partner is Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Wales and so I am delighted that Stephanie Price (Director, Duke of Edinburgh Wales) as our lead contributor. This year is the Diamond Celebration for DofE, complete with their Diamond Challenge, which presents an opportunity for us all to do something challenging (adventure, new skill or volunteering) and raise £60 for DofE to use for even more leadership skills training for young people in Wales.

Steph and myself will be leading a conversation about the impact of:

  • confident leadership
  • what confident leadership looks like and
  • considering how we really can create positive & impactful leadership in Wales.

We will also be encouraging you to spread the word and participate in both the 2016 Leading Wales Awards and the D of E’s Diamond Challenge!

The menu choice from ffresh is superb and includes wine / soft drinks on arrival as well as through the supper itself and there is a choice of starters, mains and desserts, concluding with tea, coffee & mints and has now been extended to include individual meat, fish and vegetarian courses. Please let me know your choices and any specific dietary requirements.

Starter:

Parsnip mousse with Gorwydd cheese and wild mushrooms or

Severn and wye salmon terrine

…………………………………………………………………………………….

Main:

Breast of guinea fowl with Pembrokeshire potatoes, peas and bacon or

Braised fillet of cod with a warm Welsh feta and chickpea salad or

Sweet potato and Pantysgawn goats cheese tart

……………………………………………………………………………………….

Dessert:

Orange polenta cake, Welshcake ice-cream or

Rhubarb fool, Brecon honey crumble

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Coffee and after dinner mints

Practicalities:

  • The number of bookings is limited in order that we can facilitate really well a good conversation – this means that it is essential that if you are interested that you book and confirm your place by emailing me as soon as possible
  • The cost is £35.00, which includes wine / soft drinks on arrival and during the meal, a superb 3 course meal with menu choices and great attention to any individual dietary needs, coffee and mints to conclude.
  • On booking, I shall supply an invoice and it is essential that payment is made in advance please to confirm your booking
  • Timing: arrival is for 18:30 and we sit down at 19:00 and will conclude at approximately 21.00/ 21.15
  • Dress code: smart casual
  • Menu choices are given above and when you book, please let me know of your menu choices and any dietary or access requirements.
  • Outline details of #supperconversations@ffresh: http://www.learningpathways.info/supperconversations.html includes details of future dates
  • Terms and Conditions: http://www.learningpathways.info/supperconversationsatffresh%20terms%20and%20conditions.pdf

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes

Barbara

 

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