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Leading through values


By Christina Watson @cmw_kendal     Photo credit The Falkland Islands – Sunset Saturday 26 September

Saturday 26th September saw our first @WomenEdFalkland event: a morning thinking about Values- Led Leadership. What a morning it was: full of collegiality, wisdom and optimism.  @RRamaito kicked us off via Skype from Rome, encouraging us in “Leading from your soul and not your role”. She reminded us that when leadership is defined by the impact of powerful and positive behaviours, that inspire, engage and empower ourselves and others to live out our persistent values, then we create a culture that is brave, open, flexible, generous and nurturing. Values- led leadership leads to empowered colleagues, embraces diverse talents and makes space for agile responsive leadership. We are in!

We had a short interlude with a real Falkland flavour next. Some teachers in the Falklands travel from settlement to settlement in Camp (anywhere outside Stanley). They regaled us with stories that illustrated how they lived the values of Resilience, Respect and Curiosity. Where else in the world would you come to town in the bucket of a digger teaching your student as you travelled? Or get the opportunity to rearrange your classes so your students could go fishing? Well, it is possible if you are a travelling teacher here; the stories inspired us to celebrate the unique and beautiful place we work.

The Commander of the British Forces in the South Atlantic Islands, Brigadier Nick Sawyer, talked to us next and he reiterated that it was imperative that leaders are clear on their values and that they live by them. He reminded us that example is everything and being a bystander is never an option. He added an interesting dimension from Prof Adrian Furnham who argues that a single negative leadership trait can undermine leaders, even if they display strong positive traits. This provided much food for thought.

He uplifted us with examples with how women in the Balkans, The Congo Afghanistan and Iraq did extraordinary things because, despite the violence, death and destruction they had experienced, they maintained their values and standards. Their courage and determination saw them take initial steps that created momentum that led to positive change.

It is always a little nerve- wracking when you decide to speak to your peers, but last year a friend really pushed me to pin down my core values. He was convinced that until I did this, I would continue to overthink decisions and to dwell on the bad reviews. He was right. I described the journey and how I used core values to decide on a course of action and to evaluate it. We used @Ethical_Leader’s values filter (shared via Naomi Ward’s amazing Purposeful Educators Group on Facebook) to consider how we could model, promote and live the Education Department’s values of Resilience, Curiosity and Respect in our classrooms. We talked about how #WomenEd was a great model of values-led leadership, because although we weren’t entirely sure how the mission of enabling “women in education to have the choice to progress on their leadership journey” would be achieved, we knew the actions taken would be values based.

Finally, we touched on how living your values requires courage but also kindness. When we have to challenge others, we need to remember the advice of Bananarama : “it aint what you do it’s the way that you do it”. How you do the right thing is as important as doing the right thing . The words from the Framework for Ethical Leadership encourage us to be kind and “demonstrate respect, generosity of spirit, understanding and good temper” and “to give difficult messages humanely.” The Ministry of Defence’s guide to reasonable challenge, published post Chilcot, also offers some useful advice on how this might be done too.

We finished with the traditional pledges and going forward, we are working on being brave enough to do the right thing; to tackle our negative behaviours; to be kind and to not take feedback personally.

We will review the progress we are making with our pledges on Friday 13th November. With a glass of prosecco. Obviously.



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Sunday, 29 January 2023

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