Category: work life

How to be effective when starting something new - Chichi Eruchalu

How to be effective when starting something new

Last night I ran my first meeting as the new Chair of Trustees for our local Academy primary school.

Even though I have been a governor (trustee) for over 4 years, stepping into the leadership role as Chair has been a different ball game.

With over 800 pupils on roll, a four form entry and starting this in the middle of a global pandemic, to say it has been challenging would be an understatement. Fortunately, my headteacher is and has been great through the transition and that has helped.

Why did I decide to become a Trustee?

Some facts first:

Only 5% of Chairs are under 40

96% of Chairs are white.

Source: National Governance Association “Chairing a board: developing governance, sharing leadership” Report October 2020

Initially, I joined the Governing Body because I wanted to “give back”, which for me meant to volunteer in a meaningful way. I wanted to use my expertise and skills to support another organisation in helping them achieve their goals and objectives and this was my focus for my first 4 years.

Fast forward to today and my motivations now are more around doing more of the same, but also challenging myself as a leader. My background is marketing and business strategy, so understanding how a primary school works and the education system, in general, has been very new to me.

12 months ago when the Chair’s role came up, it wasn’t the right time personally, so I didn’t put myself forward. This time around, things were better and I carefully considered it.

Also from a personal level, I didn’t see many black female governors and I felt this was an important opportunity to represent and be a role model, as well as being able to share my view and perspective.

Stepping into this role has been a mixture of excitement and also “what the heck am I doing”. I have had moments when it has felt too HARD. Too much information to consume and learn, not enough time.

I remember talking to mum about it recently and you know how mums are, totally reassuring and supportive and it reminded me of something I watched recently about growth and success.

Whenever we start something new, the truth is we will SUCK at it.

This is normal and if you accept this fact, then you’re okay.

However, most of us don’t embrace this and want to be perfect from day one (Achiever – Strengthfinder) and when we are not, we GIVE UP and QUIT. However, as we know Rome wasn’t built in a day and we need to keep moving.

So I have been re-writing the narrative.

  • Everyone (and I mean everyone) starts at zero. [REALITY]
  • I won’t know or need to know everything on Day 1 and that is okay. [ACCEPTANCE]
  • I will make mistakes and that is okay too. I will learn from it. [GRACE]
  • I will leverage my network of ex-teachers and governors to ask questions, join groups online and take courses. [COMMUNITY]
  • I will seek out the information, ask questions and then apply it. [PROGRESS]

Working through these steps is really been helping me and I am looking forward to the year ahead. Learner is one of my top 5 strengths, so all this new knowledge is actually exciting for me! 🙂

What is something new you have started recently and how did you feel about it?

The importance of mentors and allies in the workplace

Recently as part of Black History Month, I was asked to be part of a panel where we were discussing allyship at work. In the video below I share my responses to the questions I was asked. Thanks to my colleague and friend, Sarah Olubunmi for hosting the panel and her excellent interview skills.

In my career, I have seen the power of having positive allies and mentors who are able to support and champion you on your journey. I have also experienced direct and indirect racism in and out of work and I know how empowering it is, to stand up for yourself but also educate people in the process.

My hope for you in watching this conversation is that you can see that there are a lot of ways in which you can help advocate for yourself and also build your own allies. I would love to hear about your experiences. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.