Lead You, From the Beginning

By Michelle Waugh, 28th January 2020

I arrived on the 7th January at the North East Leadership Academy venue for the training course ‘Putting an Antidote to Toxic Leadership’. Excited to learn new skills and develop confidence to challenge negative behaviour, there was also trepidation as I felt a little like an imposter, not being what I considered ‘a leader’.

I received a really warm welcome from Chris, helped myself to a cuppa and sat at a table with a friendly bunch of leaders.

We began with a quick fire introduction exercise where a ball was thrown around the room, when caught, we stated our name, organisation and, wait for it…….number of people we directly lead.  Now, as you may know I am not what I consider a leader, so as the ball flew around the room all I could hear are the numbers of people being led and reality hit me, not only am I known as the family dropper but also I don’t directly lead….what am I going to say??? I catch the ball, I think ‘yes, I didn’t drop it’ and then out of my mouth comes ‘ten! I lead ten people!’ for goodness sake Michelle, why didn’t you just be you and say none.

As the day progressed, I heard many inspiring quotes “In order to carry a positive action, we must develop here a positive vision” – Dalai Lama, and participated in several thought-provoking interactive sessions; interpreted and briefly summarised in my own way below:

 

What kind of Leader are you? (characters used for descriptive examples)

Do you want to be like Dumbledore, Daenerys Targaryen or Miss Honey?

  • Treat people as valued, equal individuals
  • Talk straight and remain transparent
  • Have a vision and ethical values that guide decision making
  • Recognise and release talent
  • Encourage a positive, can do culture

Or

Do you want to be like Voldermort, Cersei Lannister or Miss Trunchbull?

  • Manipulate to achieve your own agenda
  • Dominate with constant assertiveness and aggression
  • Intimidate with fear of negative repercussion
  • Isolate others with a dismissive and exclusive culture

 

How engaged are you and others in the team?

 

  • Too many negatives make a dysfunctional team

I left the North East Leadership Academy feeling more equipped to engage and influence others with positive behaviour, genuine gratitude and compassion and confident in my own ability to remain anchored to my principles of being authentic and just to be me!

Pushing myself out of my comfort zone I learned so much, met new people and I was really able to reflect. I do have leadership skills, I just didn’t recognise them. What skills do you have? Try and find time to reflect, you might just surprise yourself!