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Three Years of Leadership: Reflections and Lessons Learned

Three Years of Leadership: Reflections and Lessons Learned

Three years ago this week, I embarked on a new journey with Inspiring Leaders as the Managing Director, a position I assumed after serving as the Deputy CEO at Discovery Trust since 2017. As I reflect on this period, I am filled with gratitude and a sense of accomplishment. However, I also recognise the invaluable lessons I’ve learned and areas where I can continue to develop.

Crafting a Vision

One of the most significant challenges in leadership, particularly when transforming an established organisation, is creating a compelling vision. This can take longer than you might think and I have had to balance my personal vision and the vision of those who govern our partnership in achieving this.

Creating a vision extends beyond mere foresight; it involves inspiring others to embrace this version of the future and accompany you on the journey. Steve Radcliffe’s leadership framework, encapsulated as ‘Future, Engage, Deliver,’ has been my beacon for developing this vision and has aided me in reflecting on how those around me are engaged in my envisaged future. Maintaining a long-term vision for our work, especially amidst uncertainty and complexity, is a continuous challenge. However, now that we have defined our vision, mission, and values for the partnership, I am fully committed to making this a reality.

Setting the Right Pace and Acknowledging Inevitable Mistakes

As someone who thrives on new ideas and the potential of projects, I’ve always been quick to act. However, my tenure at Inspiring Leaders has underscored the importance of pacing. Striking the right balance—aligned with the organisation’s needs and the capacity of the people I work with—is crucial. The insights from the Education Endowment Foundation on implementing change have been invaluable. At times, excelling in a few areas is preferable to attempting too much with less success.

Moreover, I acknowledge the mistakes I’ve made along the way. There have been a few missteps, and I realise that my actions have occasionally had a negative impact on others. There have been instances when I didn’t meet my own high standards, but I’ve always acted with integrity and authenticity, even in challenging times.

Believing in Myself and Embracing Continuous Learning

Every leader, myself included, experiences impostor syndrome. Over the past three years, I’ve occasionally questioned my ability to lead Inspiring Leaders. Thankfully, my colleagues and the partnership’s Trustees have provided unwavering support. Healthy self-doubt leads to introspection: Am I the right person for the task?

I’ve learned that leading change doesn’t always mean being the sole executor, which has been invaluable over the past three years.

I am passionate about lifelong learning. Six months ago, I embarked on an MBA programme, supported by my team and Trustees. This programme not only enhances my leadership skills and knowledge but also exemplifies the importance of professional development to those I work with.

Growth Takes Time, But It’s Worth It

For the past two years, we’ve nurtured a new partnership of Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) in the region. Helen Keller’s words—“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”—resonate deeply within me.

As someone who has led within a MAT and collaborates daily with MAT leaders, I understand the challenges of working in isolation. Deep partnerships among colleagues in similar roles bring significant benefits and impact to leaders and their organisations. Our partnership is driven by this ethos, enabling MATs to achieve more collectively. As it grows, so does our potential for positive change.

However, persuading others to embrace this way of thinking and working remains a challenge, which is understandable given that MATs have long operated in a competitive environment. Nevertheless, I take immense pride in our commitment to regional partnership working and am extremely proud to say we now work with 20 fantastic MATs every day. For me, our partnership is not just about organisational benefits; it’s about doing right with our limited public resources and best serving our main stakeholders—the students in our schools.

As I reflect on my journey, I want to express my deepest gratitude to my colleagues, trustees, partners, stakeholders, and family. Their unwavering support has shaped the leader I am today—a work in progress. Here’s to many more years of leadership!

If you are a MAT leader who wants to know more about how our partnership operates and the impact it can bring about for your organisation, please reach out or find out more by visiting

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