The importance of CPD; it’s personal!

1 Nov 2019 | by Abigail Evans

I have a list of qualifications as long as my arm, the most recent being ISBL’s Level 7 Certificate in School Financial and Operational Leadership. All of them have served a valid purpose, but many were undertaken to tick boxes or help me prove to myself, and others, that I am worthy. Worthy of being an SBM, worthy of being on the SLT and now worthy of being an Executive Leader in a MAT. In reality the practical skills and day to day application of what I gained doing those qualifications has been limited. Valid, but limited.

Four years ago I committed to becoming a School Business Leader at the highest level, something I achieved in June when I started as Chief Operating Officer of a MAT. But to get there first I wanted to understand what it meant to be a leader. To feel like a leader. To inspire others to be their very best and, for some of them, to become leaders too. I sought out the best leadership books and followed highly acclaimed people on Twitter. There wasn’t a book called ‘Making the Leap: Moving from SBM to COO’ so I read ‘Making the Leap: Moving from Deputy to Head’ by Jill Berry. I attended National and Regional #WomenEd unconferences and when I read “10% Braver: Inspiring Women to Lead Education” by Vivienne Porritt and Keziah Featherstone I made a pledge to become #10%braver. And I was.

Over the summer, a few weeks into my new role, I read “Imperfect Leadership: A book for leaders who know they don't know it all” by Steve Munby. This transformed how I felt about starting my new role and gave me permission to be a blank page ready to learn.  Inspired by workshops from Alison Kriel and Aziza Ajak at the recent #WomenEd Unconference 5 I’m currently listening to my first audio book “Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking” by Matthew Syed. Be a rebel, not a clone!

When reflecting on what to write in my first ever blog I came to realise it’s this personal development that has allowed me to discover what sort of leader I am. Not what sort of leader I should be, or am expected to be.  After reading lesha Small’s “The Unexpected Leader” I recognised myself as introverted, yet I strongly believe in disruptive leadership. My moral compass gives me the strength to be 10% braver and stand up for what is right, to speak out. I don’t have the loudest voice in the room and I like to listen.  Age and experience has taught me that the word “perfect” should be banned! I refuse to use it in my own house with my teenage daughters. Imperfect leadership is something we should all aspire to.  We are all learning, all the time, and I don’t want that to ever stop, for any of us.  None of us know everything. And that’s okay. The collective power of SBLs and of the education community as a whole, is what truly gives us the power we need.  All the answers are out there; reach out, ask for help and keep on learning.