Last night pupils, parents, ONs and staff were informed and challenged by the leadership journeys of both Lord Dannatt and John Drake, in the Leaders in Conversation event held in the Blake Studio.
On the night that the Christmas lights were switched on, both speakers illuminated the relationship between leadership and aspiration from their different experiences. Lord Dannatt spoke of lessons learnt from 40 years of military service, and now as a member of the House of Lords. John spoke of his own rise from humble beginnings in Manchester, to being CEO of the Norfolk and Norwich YMCA, and also his recent efforts to promote peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.
They talked candidly of their inspiration coming from members of their family but also from ordinary people who had either overcome great obstacles such as homelessness, or seeing human need, had aspired and succeeded to meet those needs.
Lord Dannatt spoke of the fact that aspiration can only be fulfilled through strategy, an operational plan and tactics. He emphasised that both leaders and followers need to have competence for the task, or step aside.
When asked about the current political landscape in the UK, both men stressed the need for integrity in leadership in what is a tough job, saying that when challenges come leaders need to draw strength from deeply held values.
John finished by offering students a challenge, to make sure they “put their ladder up against the right wall” ensuring that they expend their energies and set their career and life goals on the things that really matter. Lord Dannatt concluded with an encouragement to students to aim high, and then aim a little bit higher, do their best and have courage.
Many thanks must be made to both for their fantastic insights, as well as everyone who came along to make the event such a success.