Well, its day 2 and I am blogging again so that is 100% success rate so far! Although I’m wondering about a bit subject matter today. As I went along to the LEaD writing group at lunchtime with the President to discuss blogging, that seems like a good subject for this blog. We were asked to prepare for a series of questions about blogging and leadership, here are my thoughts….
- What first led you to blogging?
Probably the birth of my eldest daughter in 2006. We had a blog site for her, now sadly obsolete but it got me interested in blogging. My partner is in IT and he was doing freelance website design too so he did also start me up a website/blog for my shoe collection, which sadly never got off the ground (excuse the pun) when we had kids – no time for nice shoes. I think revamped my own blog in around 2008/9 and used it as a way to publicise conferences and events I went to. I found it extremely helpful in shaping my thinking, so much so that I even got an article published after writing on my blog at a SEDA conference in 2009. I then had a break for a bit but started blogging again last year.
2. Tell us a little about where and why you currently blog (on an individual basis).
I blog at sqhq.co.uk at the moment. Its a mismatch of all sorts of things – my personal life, my professional identity, things that I am interested in, poetry at times! Photos. I’m fairly comfortable with blurring the boundaries between professional and personal as I bring my whole person to work and my whole person at home so I find the distinctions are fuzzy. And things like a regular yoga and meditation practice have shaped my leadership and professional life so I just blog all in one place. I blog because it helps my thinking. It is my space to write freely (pretty much) and I enjoy it. I get a sense of achievement from my blog (even if no one reads it!).
3. What role do you think blogging plays in leading an organisation, or parts of one?
I think it enables people to see you as a human and a leader. It allows you to share your thinking and gives people access to your values and views that they might not otherwise have access to. When you are in a senior leadership position, as I am discovering, your time is limited and despite whatever intentions you may have it is easy to get removed from people just because of time logistics. I try to keep an open door and anyone can come and see me, however, I have to be realistic about time pressures and sometimes people may not be able to discuss things with me for as much time as we would all like. By blogging my random thoughts on various things, people can get to know me and what I stand for. I also try to be honest about some of the things I struggle with, like parenting and leadership, what it means to be a leader, time etc etc. I think that this can help people build connections with you and for me, leadership is all about connections and relationships.
4. Do you see any tensions between blogging and leadership? If so, how can these be resolved?
I’m not sure its tensions so much as sensitivities. For obvious reasons there are times when one needs to be more circumspect on your blog. And I think that is part of leadership too, again something I am becoming increasingly aware of as a senior leader. What you do matters. What we all do matters and as a senior leader, how you behave and how you react and what you think matters to others. People might be looking to you for direction, for reassurance, for empathy, for understanding, even for disagreement! I feel that being as honest as I can on my blog, it hopefully helps others who might be experiencing similar things. So for example during lockdowns I talked about mental health challenges and resilience on my blog. I posted poems as this helped me. I think you have got to be honest as a leader but that does not mean that you pour everything out onto your blog. You have to be sensible and mindful that you are in a leadership role and that there are boundaries. Just as we all have boundaries.
5. What prompted the setting up of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) blog?
This is Anthony’s blog baby as a way of sharing the work of the SLT in a more informal way. I did actually blog about our first SLT however, we didn’t have a home for it then so my more official turn is yet to come.
5. What are your expectations, if any, from City readers of the SLT blog, and what questions do you think readers of the SLT blog would want you to answer?
I hope that they like the blogs and feeling of transparency. I hope that they find it a bit more engaging than a list of action points and it gives them an insight into the SLT. I imagine that readers might want to know more about the rationale behind some of the discussions and perhaps how we will monitor and be accountable for the actions that we take, so they may want us to revisit certain decisions and reflect on our lessons learnt too.
6. Are there any other particular leaders whose blogs/writing you find particularly influential or inspirational?
I like Laura Vanderkam’s blog and podcasts. I also like Peter Bregman. Interestingly a lot of writers have a whole social media strategy, so link their blogs to their podcasts, instagram feeds etc. Maybe there will be an SLT TikTok dance before you know it!
7. What is something you wish someone had told you during your leadership journey?
Lots of things! Probably most importantly that leaders are like everyone else in many respects, we are human and make mistakes, because leaders are all of us. We all have leadership skills and undertake “leadership” activities, perhaps not in our professional lives or perhaps we are not in a senior position, but that does not mean we are not leaders. And that leadership is a journey, we are all learning all the time.
8. How do you make time for continuing to learn (and to blog) while leading?
I have a personal commitment to undertake some kind of professional development activity every week. Whether blogging, attending an event, reading or networking, anything that enhances the rest of my life. It can be hard, but its so important to take the time, I always benefit when I have spent some time reading or talking to others. With blogging, I have tried setting up time to blog regularly as well as having a list of topics I wish to blog about. Both of these have worked to a greater or lesser extent. You have to go with what works for you and remember the perfect is the enemy of the good, so just start to blog and see what happens. There is no right or wrong strategy or approach.
9. What are your thoughts about open practices such as blogging as a way of sharing knowledge (verses more traditional closed publishing models) but also in the interests of inclusivity etc?
I enjoy the freedom and indulgence of blogging without too many constraints. I have got a bit disillusioned with formal publishing and so blogging has helped me keep writing and progress some of my ideas without feeling like I am failing at publishing. I also think that blogging can be very inclusive and accessible as well as building new networks and connections, extending our thinking and reaching out to others, it can encourage new collaborations. All of which are positive not just for leadership but for us as people.
Thank you for inviting me along to the writers group 🙂