Leading from the bottom of the heap

I was lucky enough to attend a day of the National Secondary AP/DP conference last week, which I also did a little presentation for. The theme of the conference had me hooked from the get go – Disobedience. Brilliant!

Videos of some of the presentations are here.

The day I attended was kicked off by Mei Chen, which I then followed with a breakout by Dr Graham McPhail. Talk about disruptive!! I was reminded again that I have surrounded myself (sometimes consciously, sometimes less so) with like-minded people. I read blogs, ‘network’ with plenty of people, attend conferences, read books, filter though Twitter and (more recently) learn from Jane Gilbert’s Education Futures papers…. It’s a fair bit of PD but most of the things I hear are pretty similar to what I think already. I’m heartened that this is, apparently, a pretty human quality called “Implicit Egotism”. Graham Mc Phail’s presentation, on the other hand, represented quite a different school of thought from what I am usually exposed to (it looks like it will go up on the NASDAP eTV page soon). So I have sought to find out more about why he thinks so differently to me and what research he has to back up his ideas… I’ll keep you posted!

My presentation was about leading from the bottom of the heap or, more specifically, redefining leadership in a broader manner – having an influence and growing others around you. To me this means that anyone can be a leader, no matter what the organisational structure or where you sit in the organisational heap.

I drew from Drew Dudley  who talks about every day leadership and not being quite so frightened of the title ‘leader.’ I also referred to the way in which leadership has changed now that people are so networked and we live in such complex times. Now anyone can create a little push in the system which could create a ripple of change. For this I drew from Seth Godin’s ideas around tribes and the learning I have been doing recently about complexity theory.

I also drew from my own experiences and highlighted how people in formal leadership positions allowed me to learn, grow and begin to have a bit of an influence. My presentation finished with a question to the audience – how do those of you with proper leadership titles allow others to grow and, in turn, grow and influence others? I have been lucky to have been lead by some great people who have done just this for me (Jeff Johnstone, Sarah Martin, Viv Foster… etc. etc. – I’ve been lucky that people outside of the schools I’ve worked at have helped me out too) but I shouldn’t be the only one who is this lucky…


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