Be remarkable: How to stand out at interview

Be remarkable: How to stand out at interview

Team Clare Mitchell - Ivy House London

Standing out from a crowd has never been more important when applying for jobs and interviewing for roles.

If you don’t believe me have a look at some of these stats:

  • Most graduates looking for a graduate scheme make over 25 applications
  • 16% of graduates applied for 100 jobs or more
  • The average ratio of job applications made to receiving one invitation to interview or assessment centre = 21:1
  • Top employers report receiving over 100 applications per graduate position
  • It is estimated that 1% – 2% of graduates applying for Grad Schemes are hired
  • Employers featured in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers cut their graduate recruitment by 15% in 2020
  • The countries leading employers report receiving 41% more graduate job applications than last year

(Sources: High Fliers Research, The Times, Personnel Today, GraduateJobs.com)

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Most people don’t know how to stand out from the crowd, they don’t know how to be remarkable – and it’s actually not that hard once you know how.

When I say remarkable, I mean that literally; to be worthy of remark. For an interviewer to remember you and remark about you, after the interview process, so you stand out from the other applicants.

It takes a bit of prep, a bit of practice and a bit of courage – before, during and after – but honestly, it is not hard!

I say it’s not hard to stand out because most people follow a pretty standard process. Before an interview they Google the company, go on the company website, find out a few facts. During the interview they are polite but passive and have prepared a couple of unremarkable questions to ask at the end. After that they do nothing but wait to see if they have been successful or not, because they think there is nothing more they can do. The likelihood is they will not get the job because they have done nothing remarkable and have not stood out from the crowd.

So, here is what you do:

Before

Do your research. Don’t just Google the company and go on the company website – that is standard, a hygiene factor. These days you can find out so much more.  Find out what the customers are saying about the company and the products. What is their reputation like? How do they compare to their competitors?

LinkedIn is king. Use social media to find out about the people interviewing you. Not to stalk them or use the information in an inappropriate over familiar way (that would be weird). Find out what articles they are sharing or writing. Find out who they are following. You are not doing this so you can lie or be inauthentic, people spot that a mile off. But if you are well informed you can say ‘I see you wrote an article on LinkedIn about equality in the workplace. I enjoyed reading it. I share your passion for …’

Do some digging. Find out about the company values. Do they align with your own? Do you know your own values yet? If not, it’s really useful to get clear about what your values are so you can look for organisations and roles that will support you to honour your own values, rather than ignore or even violate them.

Recap: Do remarkable research, not basic

During

What impact are you making? The thing to remember is: you cannot not make an impact. To put it another way, you are always making an impact – either negatively or positively. It is worth remembering that, from the minute you walk into the building or join the zoom room.

If the interview is taking place remotely consider where you are. What is your background like? What have you chosen to wear? What facial expression are you pulling? Are they all contributing to the positive impact you want to be having?

With face-to-face interviews you are making an impact from the minute you walk into the building. One company I worked with used to ask the receptionist their first impression of the candidates; were they polite and friendly? If the receptionist said no, they did not get the job.

Be early. This is obvious and seems like another hygiene factor, but it actually means you get to sit in reception and absorb the atmosphere, the culture. Someone is likely to collect you to take you to the meeting room.  Be aware, the interview has already started at this point. Don’t walk in awkward silence! Stand up as they walk towards you. Smile, initiate a handshake (assuming no restrictions are in place!) and have some curious questions ready to ask as you walk.

Ask questions. Some people fill an awkward silence by over-talking about themselves. The best way to have a positive impact is to fill silence with a question. If you are nervous it gets you out of your own head and concentrating on the other person. You won’t over talk out of nerves if you just ask a question. And it shows interest and curiosity about the other person. For example: Great offices! How long has your company been based here? How many people work here? What is the local area like? How long have you worked here? So, what is your role? What do you like about it? I am not suggesting you be over familiar, cocky or precocious – that would be memorable for all the wrong reasons. Consider what impact you want to have and do the behaviours associated with that. You are probably best aiming for confident, professional and friendly.

Body language. Once in the interview room, approach everyone, shake hands, get names and remember them! Get water if offered, get comfortable and then don’t fidget.

Be authentic. Take your time. Don’t lie. Interviews will spot that. Be yourself, answer the questions asked and try to weave some of what your research told you into your answers. You could refer to the company values, the customer research, something you read that an interviewer had published on LinkedIn.

Story telling. Tell stories, rather than recite your CV. They can read that and it’s not memorable. Stories are memorable. If you don’t believe me watch this.

Be brave. At the end be brave enough to say ‘I notice you haven’t asked me about ABC / my experience in XXX which I think is relevant to the role, could I share that with you?

Killer questions. Come up with some memorable questions to ask, more personal ones are memorable such as:

  • Why do you like working here?
  • How would you describe the culture?
  • What sort of person fits in here?
  • If I got the job, what would I have achieved for you all to say I was over performing? 
  • In six months’ time what will the successful candidate have achieved that will make you say ‘wow’?
  • What is the biggest challenge I will face in this role?
  • If you offered me the job, why do you think I should accept it?
  • Whether I am successful or not, I would love to get some feedback from you, is that OK? What is the best process to get that?

Thanks. On leaving thank the interviewers for their time, let them know you enjoyed talking to them, be super polite. Proactive politeness is underrated when it comes to standing out from the crowd.

Recap:

Do remarkable curiosity, not small talk
Do remarkable storytelling, not CV reciting
Do remarkable questioning, not bland

After

Be proactive. Most people think there is nothing more to do but wait. There are two remarkable yet simple things you can do:

  1. Email the interviewers to thank them and let them know you enjoyed the interview
  2. Follow up on any questions they asked you that you didn’t know or didn’t fully answer, demonstrating proactivity

I was once interviewed and asked if I knew about a specific personality profiling tool. I answered honestly and said I didn’t. When I got home, I searched it and found out I could take the test free online. I did it and sent my results to the interviewer – I got the job based on that proactive act.

Recap: Do remarkable follow up, not waiting

My neighbour’s son was chatting to me about a graduate apprenticeship interview he had at a large surveyor firm. He was despondent as he knew 100s of people had applied. I talked him through how to be remarkable and stand out before, during and after the assessment centre. He was up for the challenge.  Afterwards he told me he really enjoyed putting all the behaviours into practice. They made him feel more confident. Building a connection with the receptionist relaxed him and chatting to the person who walked him to the interview room put him at ease early on. That feeling of confidence meant he was his best self in the interview. The follow up email letting the interviewer know he had enjoyed the interview was actually genuine… and guess what? He got the job!

This article is part of The Future Leaders Project, supporting 15-18 year olds to understand their options for the future (although the advice here is useful to adults, too!) Register for access to a whole resource portal packed with inspiring lesson plans, expert talks, activities, interviews and advice from leaders from a whole range of fields.

Warning: Education minus human development can equal tears

Warning: Education minus human development can equal tears

A*s in every subject, a place at a top university and the ability to remember facts and figures? Or self-belief, confidence and an ability to stay well no matter what situation comes their way?

Now, these aren’t mutually exclusive. In an ideal world, young people would be leaving our education system with all of the above. But when we get down to it, what are the top things we want young people to be equipped with when they enter the work place?

Let’s look at the standard measurement of success in schools: Exam results. Yes, these are important for getting into university and for many students they give a seal of approval – cast iron proof that their 11+ years of learning has culminated in tangible assets that can be added to a CV.

Ivy House Founder, Elke Edwards, recently shared this anecdote: “I was visiting a client at a top FTSE 100 company, and as we walked through the foyer there was a young man in tears, hunched over in a leather chair. I subtly pointed a thumb towards him and murmured to my client ‘Is he… should someone check on him?’ He glanced over and said ‘Oh him? He graduated top of his class but can’t take feedback. That’s why we avoid employing people with just the best grades’.”

Top grades might get you in the door but they won’t help you to build relationships with people, understand your strengths and passions – or be able to separate your job performance with you as a person, which may result in tears when you get some honest feedback.

When we asked teachers what the top 3 things they want their students to leave school with, the same answers always came back:

  1. Hope
  2. Resilience
  3. Self-belief

Given that, how much time do we spend actively focusing on equipping students with these attributes? The answers average out at 5%. You don’t find ‘hope’ on the curriculum, or a 30 minute lesson in the day to teach resilience.

And, 85% of school leaders said that now is the time to change and embrace a different way of doing things, according to a recent PiXL survey.

So how do we ensure young people are leaving school with the critical human skills that will see them flourish as well as the academic results that get them a foot in the door?

There are two sides to this.

1. Knowledge

How do I become the leader of my life? What should I do as a career? What do employers really want? How do I stand out from the crowd? What should I do with my life? Am I a leader? 

There is a missing link between education and adult life. Students gain so much knowledge, but you can’t use algebra to work out the equation for happiness; knowing the names of all Henry VIII’s wives won’t help you learn how to progress in a career (but it may teach you not to marry a King known for bumping off spouses).

Learning about all the options available, having clarity over their future and understanding what it takes to get them there is something all young people should have access to.

That’s exactly what The Future Leaders Project is here to do – provide that missing link between education and adult life.

Led by industry experts and free for schools and students aged 15-18 to take part in, it comprises 2 elements; a free resource portal, containing lesson plans, activities, events, interviews and advice from leaders from a whole range of fields; and a competition that provides an incredible opportunity for students to be seen, heard and developed; to hear directly from employers, connect with some of the biggest brands in the world and help them in answering some big questions.

After everything the last year has thrown at young people, this is a brilliant opportunity for students to improve their understanding of self-leadership, leadership and make conscious informed decisions about their future.

2. Skills

Knowledge is power; human skills unlock this power to create an extraordinary life.

Knowing what field of further study will be beneficial or having a dream career is a brilliant starting point. And, unless young people have the confidence, resilience and the skills to build great relationships to thrive when they reach their next steps, there’s the potential for tears in foyers.

Students need skills that enable them to stand out in a globally competitive market; skills that employers are actively seeking and that ensure they are prepared for life beyond the classroom.

The key to all of this is helping students to understand themselves – knowing who they are, their strengths and passions and how to celebrate their unique character.

The Ivy House Award does exactly that. Built around 7 transformational leadership and life skills, The Award develops ownership, initiative, confidence, self-leadership and – that word again – resilience. It teaches them how to manage and not be scared of their thoughts and feelings, and how to proactively take care of their wellbeing.

Of course, we’re going to say that this is the best way to equip students with those three things we all want them to leave school with – and, it’s based on over 20 years’ experience of coaching global CEOs, in over 40% of the top FTSE 100 companies.

If we can give young people the opportunity to learn these game-changing skills now, when it can make all the difference not only to the leaders they become but to all aspects of their lives, why wouldn’t we?

Intellect vs insight

Intellect vs insight

In a world that focuses so much on gathering intelligence (other people’s wisdom), many of us have lost sight of our own insight.

And, whilst there is a place for both – our inner guidance system, our personal wisdom is the one, that in my experience, always serves us best.

In the days when I used to coach senior leaders there were, on occasions, attempts by potential clients to play the ‘mines bigger than yours’ game.

They would start by telling me what degrees they had from which universities, how quickly they progressed up the career ladder, their amazing lifestyles and all the wonderous opportunities that they had before them now. I would respond by telling them I was the daughter of a hairdresser and got my degree from Coventry Poly.

Assuming they didn’t ask me to leave at this point, I then asked them to reflect on whether they believed they would find the answers they were seeking from intellectual knowledge or insight.

If they wanted more ‘intellect’ on how to lead I could suggest a ton of books. If they wanted more advice on how to improve their relationships – again I could hook them up with advice givers.

If on the other hand they wanted to get quiet, get connected and find their path back to them – then I was their girl. At this point the dynamic of the conversation invariably changed. The client started to breath and the work began. My passionate wish is that we could create a world, an education system, that instead of taking us away from our insight takes us towards it.

The word education derives from the Greek word Edukos – it means to ‘draw forth from within’. 

Let’s just take a moment to think about that. Now let’s think about the education system we have right now where students spend years having information pushed into them just to regurgitate it over a few hours in and exam and then get on with their lives.

But is corporate education much different? Groups of people in a room having the values of the firm pushed into them – being told about the leadership behaviours and what is expected.

What about their values? What about the kind of leader they were born to be – creative perhaps, strategic maybe, a tech guru… how about we take a lesson from the Greeks and begin spending a bit more time drawing from within?

It’s time we put human development at the heart of education, to allow young people to learn deeply about themselves and what kind of life they want to create. If you agree, then we would love to talk to you.

Human leadership: It’s time to stop ‘winging it’

Human leadership: It’s time to stop ‘winging it’

With young people now four times more likely to be unemployed than any other generation, there has never been a greater need to put human development at the heart of education.

It is these skills of confidence, communication, networking, pitching, managing your mind, choosing your behaviour, resilience and collaboration that make all the difference to whether people thrive or not. If the purpose of education is to enable young people to thrive – we have to give them the skills to do that.

Whether you term this human development, character education or social and emotional learning, this is about developing the critical human skills that set students up for success in work and life.

I was speaking to a Headmaster the other day who said ‘almost all Heads and teachers are hugely passionate about human development, but the truth is we’re all just winging it. We don’t know how to teach this stuff. Leadership, self-leadership, wellbeing and confidence are all essential skills for a young person to flourish, but we don’t know how to really teach them. The reality is most Heads and teachers have never left education, thus are woefully ill-equipped to prepare young people for life outside of the classroom.’

The courage of his honesty was refreshing. Winging it. The deep human development that sits at the foundation of who we are, that allows us to understand ourselves, how our thinking and feeling works, how to build brilliant relationships, have challenging conversations, manage our minds and stay well – the skills, let’s be honest, that we all need and use every single – are being left to chance.

Yet would we wing chemistry, physics or psychology? Would we assume those subjects can just be picked up by osmosis, or think it enough for a passionate teacher to read a couple of books on those subjects and create the whole GCSE programme? I suspect not. That’s because this kind of development requires deep knowledge and expertise in the same way as teaching any kind of technical subject. And the truth – winging this kind of deep behavioural change and human development has far greater consequences. This is what has led us to the skills, wellbeing and employment crisis we’re facing today.

  • 88% students admit to struggling with anxiety
  • Only 4% of 2020 grads have secured a job
  • 69% of employers said that new grads were not adequately prepared for the world of work
  • 48% of students believe the negative consequences of the pandemic will have a long-term or permanent impact on them.

It’s time for us to face up to reality. The way we’re preparing young people for life beyond the classroom is not working. However, it seems to me for all of the challenges and frustrations of the pandemic, this extraordinary forced experiment has given us an incredible opportunity to rethink education, putting human development at its heart; to create a business-education coalition that ensures we are truly preparing young people for life beyond the classroom and to work together to turn ‘the forgotten generation’ into the most well-equipped generation of all time. To do something different.

We vote to do something.

That’s why we’ve built The Future Leaders Project.

The Future Leaders Project is a life-changing schools’ project bringing together a collaboration of changemakers from education and business to support students aged 15-18 to flourish, in work and life.

Led by industry experts and free for schools and students to enter, it comprises a competition and resource portal, allowing young people to be informed, developed and inspired – building a bridge of connectivity between education and the world of work and equipping students with the knowledge and inspiration to step up and become the leaders of their lives.

It allows students to hear directly from employers, connect with some of the biggest brands and influencers in the world and support them in making conscious, informed decisions about their future. With speakers, judges and mentors from a whole range of organisations including Nike, Deloitte, the BBC, Netflix, Bright Network, Pearson, NatWest and Google, The Future Leaders Project is all focused on ensuring students come out of what has been an incredibly challenging time, stronger than ever.

As Einstein once said, “in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” This is about creating opportunity; it’s about working together to set students up for success in the classroom and beyond and ensuring we are no longer ‘winging it’.

Want to know more about The Future Leaders Project?

Tackling DE&I through L&D

Tackling DE&I through L&D

How do organisations tackle DE&I through L&D? A nice small question.

What we know is that diversity is an outcome. The route to it is inclusion.

We need to be inclusive in our L&D approach. If we want to create genuine change and not something that becomes a tick-box exercise, we have to have the courage to do the following things.

We need to teach human skills. How does my mind work? How do I build relationships? How have my belief systems developed? How do they serve me and not serve me? How does all this drive my behaviour? And we need to make these skills really personal and take them to a deeper level than we generally see in L&D programmes. For everyone.

We also need to understand our driving forces. The need to belong and the need to feel valued are human needs that we all have.

We can get these met positively or negatively but we rarely make these decisions consciously. Often, our negative way of meeting our need for belonging is that we create separateness so that we can feel belonging elsewhere.

We spend a lot of time focusing on beliefs about other people through processes like unconscious bias training. But they don’t get deep enough; we need to put support systems in place that enable the right conversations to happen. Do you have an environment where people are genuinely open to learning? Do you have a system where people have permission and the skill to give intent and feedback in the moment?

We all suffer from self-enhancement bias. If you were to score yourself on how inclusive you think you are, most people choose around a 7. If you then give a number to how inclusive you think people are in general, generally this is much lower – say a 4 or 5. Then give another number to what the ideal is, which most of us will say 10. The reality is we can’t all be above average.

So to create change we have to understand what’s really going on in ourselves, our belief systems, and then relate it to our own personal experience. We need to set up environments of permission for feedback, and give people the language and the models to create change in the moment, when it happens.

Organisations will often run DE&I training as a set piece  – but in reality these human skills are the foundation block for everything.

We’re the experts in human development (we promise that’s not self-enhancement bias). Take a look at our programmes to find out about the leadership and life skills we focus on.  

It’s time to humanise DE&I

It’s time to humanise DE&I

Diversity, equality and inclusion (DE&I) is clearly a hot topic right now. We see companies proclaiming their successes, we see leaders, institutions and cultures being outed for their prejudices but are all our stats, training programmes and recruitment drives working? 

To some extent I am sure they’re having an impact but I can’t help but feel that until we make it truly personal that we are missing something really important.

Do you remember a time when you felt left out, overlooked or even ignored? Someone had a party, and you weren’t invited. Or you went to the party but hadn’t been asked to help plan it, even though you had some great ideas. Perhaps you arrived but left hungry because you were the only vegetarian at the BBQ.

We’ve all been excluded – we have all felt the shame, fear, embarrassment that it brings. And it is this kind of visceral human feeling that I believe we need to reconnect with if we are going to create real change. We need to reconnect with our humanity for ourselves as well as others.

This feeling has been demonstrated over the last 12 months through the Black Lives Matter movement, which has profoundly impacted many people in society. Quite often those in minority and under-represented groups are connected with feelings of exclusion, whilst those running the DE&I initiatives are slightly more removed from the emotion.

So often when businesses want to change, they create measures, put together a business case, plan a host of activity, collect data and, the more we do all of that, the more we disconnect from the bottom line.

The bottom line is we need to help people reconnect with the emotion behind diversity, equity and inclusion – particularly the inclusion. To be someone who demonstrates empathy with one of their team who isn’t included in a conversation.

Someone who asks questions about another person’s identity in a suitable way to help them understand a different lived experience. Until we take time within our schools and organisations to help people be empathetic and curious, I fear we will be driving disconnected project plans on DE&I for years to come.

Elke’s blog is also featured in the Training Journal

Using the apprenticeship levy to train existing staff

Using the apprenticeship levy to train existing staff

Whilst the levy is doing an incredible job of motivating business owners to discover and invest in fresh talent, many employers are utilising the apprenticeship levy to address skill gaps within their existing workforce – accessing levy funding to upskill and develop their existing staff.

And, let’s face it, in an age where 77% of CEOs see the unavailability of key skills as the biggest threat to their business and only 13% of senior execs have confidence in the rising leaders in their firm – using the levy to address skills gaps within your existing workforce has never been more critical.  And yet, in 2019, more than £133 million of levy funds were unspent.

So, we’re giving you the low down on all the key things you need to know to start maximising your levy funding…

Can the apprenticeship levy be used to train existing staff?

Absolutely!  There’s a common misconception that apprenticeships are only available for school leavers or those in manual industries, but that’s far from the case.  It’s time to let go of the traditional view of what an apprentice is (especially for those of you begrudgingly handing over your 0.5% levy contributions, but with ‘no apprentices’ within your organisation).  So, here’s the headline – anyone can be an apprentice!

In fact, the term ‘apprenticeship’ actually refers to a highly intensive training and qualification opportunity; one which can be used with new or existing employees alike. 16 or 116, professional apprenticeships work in the same way, with funding allowing you to train anyone over the age of 16, in any industry.

What’s more, the funding’s not just available for ‘new starters’, with many organisations opting to use the levy to fund further development within their existing workforce. So, whether you’re looking to train new employees requiring specific skills to meet the needs of your business or looking for development to enable existing employees to climb higher up the career ladder furthering their expertise, confidence or gain a qualification – the levy funding is available to support staff across your business.

Why use apprenticeship levy funding to train existing staff?

With training and talent teams often challenged to do ‘more with less’, the levy funding offers organisations a real opportunity to upskill their existing workforce – in many cases at almost no cost!

Are there any specific requirements?

  • The apprenticeship levy funding allows you to train anyone over the age of 16, with no upper age limit in place.
  • Training must meet an approved apprenticeship standard, allow the employee to acquire new skills and the content of the training must be materially different from any prior training or apprenticeship that individual has attended.

What happens to unspent levy funds?

“Use it or lose it” is the cry. Employers have 24 months to use their funds, after this point their funds will expire. That means that if you received your funds in September 2020, you have until September 2022 to spend them. The funds expire to encourage levy paying employers to invest in high-quality training and assessment and to prevent levy payers from accruing very large balances. 

So, to summarise; whether you’re looking to address skills gaps within your organisation, future-proof the capabilities of your workforce or create a more motivated, well trained and driven staff base – the levy funding is available to support you in doing just that, ensuring your staff are equipped with the knowledge and skills to thrive now and in the future.

If you’re one of a growing number of organisations looking to utilise your levy funding to support new managers, emerging talent or future leaders, get in touch – or find out more about our apprenticeship solution.

Let’s not pivot; let’s pirouette

Let’s not pivot; let’s pirouette

It occurred to me the other day that as the year draws to a close the natural thing to do is to reflect on how it’s gone, the highs, the lows, the holidays, the tears and the lessons learned. 

Having worked in learning and development for over 20 years I am always looking for the learning in any experience and my goodness this year has given us quite a bit to ponder!

My daughter’s 21st Birthday party was on the evening of 21st January 2020, a happy and balloon covered affair (not the guests, the decorations…. although some guests may be questionable). We danced into the evening celebrating, blissfully unaware that on that very night almost 6,000 miles away in Wuhan this virus was already spreading, and lockdown was being implemented.

As a predominantly face-to-face leadership development business that was thriving, doing exciting work with great clients and on a mission to change the face of future leadership, the pandemic threw a very definite curve ball into our plans here at Ivy House.  Suddenly, and without warning our whole business model was thrown into question, on a daily basis the news changed and none of it for the better, in fact I recall saying to my husband one morning before switching the TV on “I wonder what fresh hell awaits us today….” It was a truly disturbing time.

So, I sit here now, reflecting on our team and our actions, the risks we took, the clients who stood by us, (you know who you are, and I will love you forever!), the investments we made, and the free coaching resources we offered to support teams and individuals working remotely or struggling with the change happening around them.  

The virus hit our own team hard too and I still recall the breathless efforts of our Marketing Director as she tried to soldier on after being hospitalised by the disease. “Just talk to me but I won’t answer because it’s difficult to speak” she typed into the chat on a Teams meeting (despite everyone having told her to go to bed!). But such was the commitment from this small team to find a way through and pull together that thankfully she is back to her full glory today after a heroic effort to balance the needs of her own health and the health of our business.

Our forward commitment with clients in 2021 is the strongest it has ever been, our NPS score has increased to an incredible 98, in no small part down to our Product Director Clare, who when faced with the task of moving all of our programmes onto a new digital platform said “I’m not going to make it as good as our face-to-face, my aim is to make it even better”.  No shoddy Teams, WebEx, Zoom or PowerPoint solution would do for us, if we were going to do this, deliver awesome for our clients and create change for our delegates, we were going to do it right.

With news this week that a vaccine is being rolled out as soon as mid-December, it’s fair to say the world looks a whole lot brighter than it did in March.  Our new virtual programmes have allowed us to grow our product suite to support a broader audience, our price point has reduced as we no longer have travel and venue costs to consider.   Our work with schools has accelerated beyond comprehension and has become a global programme to support young people from all backgrounds to develop the skills to live their best lives, and our team are all back together (albeit remotely) and working better than ever.

What have I learned? 

Well for one thing I have a newfound hatred for the term ‘new normal’ and ‘unprecedented’! I also realise that my own limiting belief around virtual training has changed forever.

I will never again take for granted the joy of sitting with a client and drinking a coffee while we chat and my team better brace themselves for a huge hug as soon as it’s possible!  

As I said to our founder Elke Edwards earlier today, we didn’t just pivot, we pirouetted, and I think it’s time to take a bow!

Who knows what 2021 will hold for us all – but we look forward to seeing you there!

It’s Time.

It’s Time.

If we believe the purpose of education is to prepare pupils to thrive in the future, then we have to develop the skills that will enable them to do that.

The question is – will we?

What’s standing in our way from putting human development at the heart of education? And what do we need to acknowledge before we can make this a reality?

In this white paper, we bring you research and insights from changemakers in education and business on the real opportunities to create meaningful change in our education system.

Download the whitepaper

The system is broken

The system is broken

If you’ve sat where I’ve sat – around boardroom tables with managers and leaders of all kinds – you’d know the system is broken. And, we can’t let it stay broken. If we want a better world, we need better leaders and if we want better leaders we need to change what we teach them, how and when we do it.

This begins by broadening and deepening our understanding of leadership.

In doing this we need to let go of a number of myths. Myths like ‘leaders are born and not made’.

Of course, some people are born with natural talents that will help them become great leaders. But the truth is, the skills needed to become great leaders are broad and deep and in the main, are learned skills

Another myth is that leadership consists of a specific set of skills and behaviours. In reality, great leadership can be experienced in countless ways, and that is going to depend on the individual, their personal blueprint and the skills and knowledge they bring to the job.

The final myth we need to let go of is that leadership is solely about leading other people. While in many instances it is, but it’s also about creative leadership, thought-leadership, being a change-maker, challenging the status quo, creating environments and driving communities. It’s about leading families. But first and foremost, leadership is about self-leadership. Before we earnt the right to lead others we have to learn to lead ourselves.

As some of you may know, between my husband and I we have five girls aged between 17 and 20. They’re all different.

Sian is the scholarship child, she won an academic scholarship and music scholarship for the whole of her senior year, she got straight As in her GCSE and straight A*s in her A levels. She ticks all of the current boxes – she is the perfect child for our system. She likes to see the path ahead, likes to know what the rules are so she can follow them and succeed.

We also have Lara. Lara is dyslexic, wildly creative, she’s bright and funny, she’s hardworking and she did incredibly well in her GCSEs.

But she’s also constantly questioning everything.

Ill thought-out rules, discrimination, a system that insists on only seeing part of the person. The truth is that schools struggle with Lara. They struggle with her questioning, her disinterest in following the normal path.

Lara she spent years thinking that she wasn’t bright enough. I remember an interview with her teacher when Lara was 7 and the teacher saying ‘she’s just not trying hard enough with her reading’ and I said ‘well she is, maybe she’s dyslexic?’ The response was ‘No, she’s just not trying hard enough’.

Sian, I predict, is going to get a great job in a great company and she is going to climb the career ladder, and I have no doubt that she is going to do really well.

Lara is probably going to be an entrepreneur, because that’s who she’s born to be. So we need Sians, but we need Laras too.

Lara had no idea that her incredible people skills and her entrepreneurial thinking, her questioning, her challenging is probably going to be her passport to success. And if Lara wasn’t surrounded by a team of coaches like we are Ivy House, I don’t know what would have happened to her. Well actually, I do – I’ve seen what happens to so many young people.

When we as a society adopt a broader understanding of leadership, we’re going to start to value difference. And we’re going to see the leadership potential in people of all kinds, and it’s that mindset that we’re going to need if we want to create real change.

Ultimately, leadership is just a life skill and we need to take this mindset in to helping the next generation.

The Ivy House mission is to put leadership and life skills at the heart of how we develop each generation. Find out how we do this.