My Love is your Love
I’m a big fan of Whitney Houston. “My Love is Your Love” is one my all time favourite songs. I like to play it at the end of a big whole school assembly. Whilst It’s a head nodding delight, the real reason I like to play this song is the lyrics.
If tomorrow is judgment day
And I'm standing on the front line
And the Lord asks me what I did with my life
I will say I spent it with you
Looking out across the hundreds of faces, watching the staff and children hip sway and shoulder jig with attitude. It makes me smile. It also holds true. These people, these children this business called Leadership is where I have spent a huge chunk of my life.
I wish I had known ten years ago what I have accumulated in wisdom, confidence and perspective now. However, there is one leadership myth that has often bothered me. The belief that leadership is in some way served through “control and command” approaches. The Girl Scout Research Institute published a brilliant and unique report on what girls and young women say about leadership, “Change it up!” Girls as young as seven already have a view on what leadership is and see it as being about exercising authority through “control and command” approaches, based on competition and a culture of blame and shame, which might explain the reluctance of some girls and young woman to pursue leadership. Thankfully, organisations like @womened are beginning to change that perspective by encouraging us all to be #10%braver.
I think we can all identify leaders, both male and female who have not moved away from this style of leadership and work within organisations which become reflections of this approach in their values, leadership style and policies. Relationships as a result, are often dysfunctional and shame and blame are lurking round every corner. In an environment like this, trust and vulnerability pack up their bags and head for the hills….often followed shortly by growth and learning.
And to go back to Whitney…. Is this how we want to spend our lives together?
The one lesson that I would like to share with new leaders is that values, people and relationships matter deeply in building something that is sustainable and has a positive impact. More than anything, it is the integrity of those relationships that will get you through the difficult times more than any system, accountability measure or policy.
I think it would be fair to say that I run quite an informal organisation. We work hard together and play hard together. People genuinely like each other and they like to spend time together, both in and out of school. We focus on leadership through collaboration have worked hard to develop a teamwork culture and ethos that means more to me than almost anything else we do. We have adopted 24 character strengths into our every day feedback and conversation with each other and there is a natural curiosity and diversity about the human quality of leadership.
That’s not to say that sometimes the conversations aren't deep, searching and challenging. They are. That's not to say that some time my team don’t push my buttons, because they do and I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual.
However, underneath all of that are the human connections we have together and the love and respect that comes with that. I believe that an inspiring successful and sustainable organization starts with human connection and positive relationships not competition and control.
We rise by lifting others.