Leaders in conversation: A talk with Joy Madeiros and Mark Nicholas MBE
Report by Morgan Hardy (L6)
On Wednesday 13th June, many pupils, parents and guests of Norwich school had the privilege of listening to Joy Madeiros and Mark Nicholas talk about their experiences in the world of leadership. Joy is a leading figure in the charity sector, working for Oasis, running 50 Academies and fighting human trafficking. Mark is an ex- Lieutenant Colonel for the British Army who is now director of the Royal Norfolk Show, one of the largest shows in England. As you can imagine this was a perfect duo for a dynamic evening of discussion.
Mr Sexton started the conversation by asking the speakers the question, “Who has inspired you the most?” Joy explained that this was her daughter, who has overcome the challenges associated with being dyslexic and has managed to achieve her educational goals despite the hurdles that she faced.
Mark said his inspiration centres around the great work that our armed forces carry out on a daily basis. He explained how their discipline and behaviour enabled them to be some of the most effective teams in the world. He attributed their effectiveness to the following three things. Training together, living together and socialising (drinking) together!
This lead neatly into the theme of the evening the Art of Collaboration, and how collaboration can be an effective tool in leadership. When asked how they understand the phrase “collaborative leadership,” both stressed the importance of working together to achieve a shared goal, and how vital it is to get along with the people you are working alongside.
Joy went on to explain how Oasis’ connections with over 50 schools has helped the charity raise awareness around human trafficking amongst the younger generation, but also to bring together other services to support the communities around the schools. The school becomes a hub. This collaboration has potential to be very effective in transforming communities.
Mark explained how since he has taken over the organisation of the RNS, it has been difficult to change some traditions which were perhaps a little past their sell by date. It was interesting to hear that his advice in these situations was to keep “your friends close but your enemies closer.” He highlighted the importance of consultation and communication, but also driving through change in order to see progress.
For me, I found most shocking, Joys comment on competition. She emphasised how competition hampers collaboration and is unimportant throughout the workspace. Personally, I feel competition is an important aspect of work and indeed life. I firmly believe that without competition, people have little incentive to push themselves. Coming from a large charity, it must be difficult for staff to feel motivated all of time. Therefore, I was surprised to hear that Joy runs her charity with ‘kindness’ being her top value. She emphasised the point not to compare yourself with other people. Being kind on others and yourself fosters collaboration. I was very touched that such a senior person in an international organisation values kindness above all else.
The session allowed us to understand tools of leadership on both a global and local scale. It was surprising to hear that although both speakers had very different leadership journeys, many of their principles and beliefs aligned.
They spoke about the importance of finding and developing new leaders amongst our generation. Both leaders agreed there is a need to inspire the youth of today but also to be educated and informed by them at the same time.
In conclusion, I feel as young leaders we have many practical lessons to learn, but perhaps the most important lesson might be, the willingness and patience to listen to both the successes and failures of those that have walked before us.