Leading with love

pages from book shapes as a heart

Written by Rosalind Stuart, Managing Director, Founders4Schools

I am delighted to have been appointed as Managing Director of Founders4Schools. Founders4Schools is an EdTech charity which hosts an online platform connecting educators to their local business communities quickly and easily. Our mission is to inspire students and prepare them for the rapidly changing world of work. We’ve been through a lot of changes lately, necessary and important changes in order to ensure focus to our strategic direction and to create sustainability for our future. We now have all we need to build on the work of the last few years and engage even more young people, educators and business communities up and down the UK to use our digital services. And, we are very excited to be able to do this hand in hand with our sibling platform Workfinder.

We’ve already facilitated over a million encounters between students and their local community of volunteers, directly affecting over 315,000 young people. That equates to well over 15,000 hours volunteered by the incredible people who get involved in what we do. And we’ve only just begun. The academic year 2019-2020 is set to be our best yet. We are working strategically with delivery partners at a local authority, combined authority and opportunity area level. We are actively collaborating with other partners in the careers provision ecosystem to help them deliver outcomes for their young people. And we have some very exciting work coming up with corporate partners who give their time and support our work. It’s an incredibly exciting time. It’s also a challenging time and I recognise that leadership is needed. So, I thought I’d share some thoughts on what I consider leadership to be, and the principles that guide me.

I was introduced to Greek Philosophy at the age of eleven by a teacher who explained to me that Greek language culture and philosophy thinks about love, talks about love, and indeed loves differently to the way we do in Western culture. When we talk about love we are mostly really thinking about Eros, Ludus or Pragma variations on the romantic love that exists in a relationship. We are well aware that there is a difference between this and the love that we have for our friends but we don’t have a word for this, the Greeks call it Philia. The love that parents have for their children is called Storge.  And then there is one more category of love Agape, agape is sometimes associated with the love that man has for God, more usefully it is associated with acts of selflessness and self-giving.

I think that in this blend of PhiliaStorge and Agape there are some wise lessons on leadership. As leaders we ought to be working collaboratively with our colleagues and treat them as we would friends. There is also an extent to which leaders ought to reflect on the best elements of parenting and to care for those who work for them in a way which protects, guides and nurtures. As leaders we should also try and give of ourselves in what we do and give service to both the people we work with and the organisations we work for; servant leadership.

Looking more widely the rather brilliant thing about both Founders4Schools and Workfinder is that even though we run digital platforms which operate at scale it’s actually love which powers everything that we do. It’s the love that communities have for their young people which makes our system work. A blend of Agape and Storge  at a wider societal level which motivates volunteers to give of their time by explaining the world of work to young people in the classroom or in a work experience setting. From my point of view this undercurrent of positivity and service is so inspiring.

It’s important to take time out to reflect on our wider purpose and trajectory as and when we have the time. I for one am very much looking forward to the Digital Agenda Power and Responsibility Summit on October 9th when I will have the chance to do exactly this and learn from others.

Originally published here.

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