"There are more similarities than differences." What leaders learn from each other across sectors.
26th May 2021
I loved Peter Ustinov as a kid – he had such wisdom and imparted it with such humour he was one of my heroes. Over the course of my work the message I took from his autobiography has stayed with me: the more he travelled the more he could see similarities over differences.
This week I’ve been getting feedback from participants on our Spring programme at Inspiring Partnerships where we match school leaders with business leaders in a partnership where both leaders grow.
A core principle of the programme is that leaders from different sectors learn from each other.
One of our questions for participants after three months on programme is:
What are the leadership challenges you have in common?
The similarities have been striking and fall into five broad buckets:
- Developing your leadership persona – who you want to be as a leader, how you come across to others, and the need to communicate differently depending on who you are communicating with. This is true for any leader and has proven to be a rich area of exploration for our partnerships.
- Establishing a shared vision across a diverse team and bringing teams along on a journey. Leaders from every sector need to establish that vision and align teams to deliver so sharing strategies around that has been really useful, along with thinking carefully about the make-up of teams and the need for diverse skills and viewpoints.
- Influencing people who are not your direct reports, and leading teams of experts when you aren’t one. This is so important for leaders in matrixed organisations which includes many schools – using your influence and building strong relationships rather than direct power to lead change across an organisation or system.
- Finding the time and space to step back, reflect and think strategically rather than being on auto pilot, responding and being operational. The Inspiring Partnerships programme is set up to provide exactly that and it’s heart-warming to see the partnerships making time for each other despite the huge demands on their time.
- Having a wide-ranging role and needing to prioritise activities that’ll have the greatest impact for the organisation. That prioritisation is so important and a challenge for many senior leaders with broad roles so having someone from a different sector to discuss strategies with has been valuable for our participants.
The main difference noted is that school leaders feel less empowered to act and feel more restricted in what they can do. The feedback from the school leaders on the programme is that having an external perspective has really empowered them to think and behave differently, freeing them up to try something new which can only be a good thing.
I’m really excited to hear what our partnerships learn from each other as the programme progresses and how they each grow as leaders. You can follow their progress here or sign up for our newsletter for regular updates: