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What would you do with your seat at the table? #SeatAtTheTable

by Dr Kate Bridge     @KateBridge19

As a female Head of Physics, I am often on my own at the table when mixing with other Physics departments in education. 

Society would draw Dr Bridge as a white-haired male in the latter stages of life who is crazy for mathematical differentials.

That is definitely not the box I fit in.

I am a challenge to society and could fill this blog with instances in time where people's preconceptions have hurt me, made me doubt myself and played wrongly with my emotions. However, that is not this blog's purpose. 

Instead, in a very ordered physics fashion, these are my thoughts on what I would do to build a better table; I hope they resonate with you.

Bust down the walls around the table

A wise co-worker who has just joined my school said that at her previous place of work middle and senior leaders meet together in a meeting for leaders on all occasions. There isn't a senior leaders meeting and then dissemination. 

They work on the model that everyone brings a different perspective to the table and that the diversity of education means that representation is key to success. 

The middle leaders feel valued and can aspire to what is the next level. The senior leaders feel supported. There is no perception of ivory tower thinking, less misguided views of meaning or sentiment. Whilst I am glorifying the moment in the time that I spent with her, that table allows development on all fronts.

Bring Matter and Antimatter Buddies to the table (Let us assume these are complete opposites.)

At the table have buddies that are someone you see yourself as. This peer role model will boost your confidence and give you value and support. The peer can, in turn, offer suggestions and refinements without condescension. You have an ally. 

Then give everyone an opposite, for it is only with challenge and growth mindset that we truly change behaviours and, if all other leaders help display equality and the skill of truly listening, the world will begin to behave better. These allies and opposites are never fixed in stone, they change with every week/quarter/issue/meeting but setting the tone to listen to a view that is not yours is one of the most powerful things we can do.

Cheer everyone at the table

As a competitive athlete in my youth, measuring myself against others was something that happened a lot. As an adult I measure myself against standards, not people. 

I make a point of trying not to compete against individuals. This does not mean I have lost my competitive edge – I still have that fire in me. However, I now use it more frequently to help others find their power, their voice, their way. If everyone achieves, we all benefit, we all thrive. 

As a leader, at the table there will be times I need to stand tall and make tough decisions, but I will stand taller with the support of others. 

As a leader I know at times I am going to get it wrong. 

I hope I will be less wrong because my table is diverse and inclusive. 

I hope when I am more wrong, people will be supportive because they know it came from a reasoned place.

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Sensible self-review - why all the fuss? #SeatAtTh...
I am woman, hear me roar!


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Monday, 27 March 2023

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