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I’ve got a seat for you at the table. I will get you a chair. #SeatAtTheTable

Grasping-nettles-2
by Kerry Jordan Daus @KerryJordanDaus

The 3rd Annual Unconference of #WomenEd is set to excite, challenge and enthuse us all. I am taking a moment, a space, to reflect on Shirley Chisholm's words and the provocation for our weekend:

"If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair".

What does that mean to me?

This is timely, as I come to the end of my first 30 days as CEO of a Multi Academy Trust. This is a senior systems leadership role. This is a big role. This is a role where too few women have a seat at the table. I have got one and, importantly, what am I going to do with it?

For a long while, I was occupying a folding chair. I have been a Trustee at four different MATS and a Chair of a Trust Board. I learnt a lot about myself, about leadership, about finding agency in this space, about getting my voice heard. At times the folding chair was wobbly. At times there wasn't a space at the table for my folding chair. I just squeezed up tight.

In three of these contexts the CEO was a male. I wondered "quietly" if I could have the CEO seat at the table.

So, now I have my "seat"; I am reflecting on how I will live the values which are the moral compass of my leadership. This is not about being right but about doing it right. I come to this leadership role intent on being the change that I see is needed, being #10%Braver and embedding a culture of honesty, openness, and vulnerability. I want to use the gift of leadership, the power of leadership, as activist power, to make our working spaces a place everyone wants to be. I want our MAT to be irresistible for all. I will use my seat at the table to challenge, even if that's uncomfortable.

Brené Brown has provided me with one of my roadmaps for leadership; both daring greatly and the gifts of imperfection.

I grasp nettles.

Not knowing is a strength.

As I try and get comfortable in my new seat (but not too comfortable), I am determined to own my not knowing everything as a sign of my leadership strength. 

I am very confident to ask. In fact, wanting to know is so important. I don't have all the answers. 

My first 100 days is my #ListeningProject. Talking to as many people, children and young people as possible. This is giving everyone a "seat at the table", giving everyone a voice. No one is "just" Anne, the cleaner, "just" John the Teaching Assistant, "just" Sam our Year 3 pupil, or "just" a parent – I am explicitly seeking out those hidden voices.

This week, I had a seat at the table with Year 6 pupils. They joined me, no, I joined them for lunch. I loved hearing them talking about "Irresistible Learning for All", what had made their day "irresistible" AND indeed better if …..

A call out to all my VERITAS MAT: if I haven't given you a seat at the table yet, bring your folding chair. 

Actually, no folding chairs needed, there's always a space for you at the table.


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Tend and befriend. #SeatAtTheTable
What would you do with your seat at the table? #...
 

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Monday, 28 November 2022

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