Trauma Informed Leadership Action Learning Set. 4 meetings/ Wednesdays

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Event description
An action learning set for women leading and managing in all kinds of FE during coronavirus

About this Event

As we return to work following the pandemic, are you less sure how to deal with colleagues' emotions?

Have you got to make difficult decisions at work but finding them hard to make?

Are you or your organisation struggling to respond compassionately to the pressures of the pandemic?

Crises demand leaders respond with compassion and kindness

In March 2020, we went into coronavirus lockdown. It feels like yesterday. It feels like a lifetime ago.

A year later, we are changed. Not changed by uncertainty, rapidly changing policies, procedures - we are used to that in FE. Changed by the trauma of the pandemic. We have no way of knowing how changed we are. No way of knowing the full impact of how others have been affected. This will continue to emerge over many years.

We, our families, friends, colleagues, students, and organisations have all been affected by the pandemic, and few will not have been traumatised by it in some way. This is why we need trauma-informed leadership. Not trauma in the old heroic sense of a disaster but child abuse, domestic violence and rape. All of which increased during the pandemic. Trauma redefined by feminists, who call out the social beliefs about gender, class, and race that victim-blame and protect perpetrators of violence.

"Trauma-Informed Leadership understands and appreciates the emotional scars that people may struggle with. These might be directly related to the pandemic, indirectly triggered by what has happened with Covid19, or may result from people’s wider life experiences. Trauma might include loss, grief, neglect, abuse, betrayal of trust, a sudden change in circumstances, pain or a sense of powerlessness." (NHS Training Hub, 2021).

Coronavirus restrictions, illness and deaths have exacerbated existing intersectional gender inequalities for students and staff. The evidence shows that the burden of Covid-19 has fallen hardest on marginalised and disadvantaged groups - poor people; Global Ethnic Majority people, disabled people; people with long-term medical conditions; women. These inequalities are in our cities, our communities, and our organisations. They are the daily lived experiences of many of our students and colleagues. To understand and respond effectively and compassionately to how people have experienced this pandemic, our leadership needs to be trauma-informed.

The cost of leadership should not be your distress and health.

In February 2021, FETL published a monograph by Stuart Rimmer (CEO at East Coast College and Visiting Senior Fellow in Leadership and Management at the University of Suffolk) Voices from the tightrope: The role of distress and the modern further education principal/chief executive. In it, Stuart describes the findings of his small study, during the pandemic, in which sector principals/CEOs regularly reported that 'high levels of distress were becoming a more frequent aspect of the role' and the cost of being a leader was often borne by work and family relationships and their own health (Stuart Rimmer, 2021).

"I try and manage my stress away from my staff although my direct colleagues do see changes in my moods. It manifests within me through poor sleep, health issues and changes to my attitude towards work."

“I hope I am good at hiding it!”

“less time to support, nurture and coach team/colleagues, more irritable, than usual, making key decisions too quickly, being less pro-active than normal and more reactive, making more (avoidable) mistakes, taking on other peoples’ pressure whilst still trying to avoid upward delegation.” (Stuart Rimmer, 2021:31.)

Another reason why we need to learn how to practice trauma-informed leadership,

What will I get out of it?

Learning how to deal with real-world challenges

The type of developmental activities managers, leaders, and organisations undertake are important to how we learn, survive, and deal with uncertainty and an ever-changing environment. Action learning is a particularly effective way of learning to deal with real-world problems beyond specific scenarios and circumstances.

Protecting your health and wellbeing

"Approaching leadership with an understanding of trauma helps us see and treat others, and ourselves, with more empathy and compassion. It can also help protect against stress and burnout." Dr Jeanne Hardacre and Georgia Twigg (2021)

Solidarity and a chance to develop your professional network

This Education and Training Foundation-funded CPD is organisational development learning. It will bring you together with a small group of women peers to work intensively together over 4-weeks in a small group. Using action learning processes, we will focus on the things that challenge you now: in the pandemic, your career, your working relationships, and life. As you learn, you will identify solutions for challenges that seemed impossible.

What's involved?

This WLN online action learning set (ALS) is funded by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) as part of its 'Diversity in Leadership Programme' and coronavirus response work.

This action learning set is limited to 8-10 women. Working alongside each other, you will learn to look at the real-world challenges you are dealing with from different perspectives: through each other's contexts, thinking, experiences, and identities. This process and organisational development, trauma, and intersectional feminist theories will help you identify solutions that work for you, your team, your organisation, and develop your leadership and management knowledge and skills for beyond the pandemic: Essential skills for future leadership and management thinking, vision and practice.

Joining this action learning set means making a personal commitment to your women peers in the set - to bring your real-life leadership challenges and to meet on 4 occasions during April and May 2021. Meetings are from 12.45 to 14.45 (log in from 12.30) on:

  • Wednesday 21 April 2021 and
  • Wednesday 28 April 2021 and
  • Wednesday 5 May 2021 and
  • Wednesday 12 May 2021

Who is it for?

WLN actively dismantles barriers and welcomes and supports women in all our diversities, in all kinds of FE, skills and lifelong learning who are ready to:

  • learn collaboratively
  • redefine leadership and change our workplaces for the better
  • act as agents for intersectional gender equality change

This ALS is for women leaders and managers, including governors, in all kinds of further education, skills and lifelong learning settings who want to share and learn from each other's real-life experiences of leading and managing during coronavirus and beyond.

Can't make these dates?

Good news. Kathryn James facilitates another trauma-informed leadership set on Fridays. It starts on Friday, 16 April 2021 and ends on 14 May 2021. See:

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