Why not turn a new page in your life with inspiring tales for #worldbookday from our own top team!

We’re all painfully aware of how the pandemic has affected our lives, but perhaps not so obvious is the affect it has had on our reading habits.

As our normal existence ground to a halt, we turned ‘en masse’ to books for solace. We gobbled up new titles, we reread old favourites and, more of us than ever before, attempted to put our own stories into print. And that can’t be a bad thing!

In celebration of World Book Day, we’ve asked our Senior Leadership Team to share the books that have inspired and informed their working lives.

Simon Hewitt: Principal

Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

I read this book when I first became a manager a number of years ago as I was feeling anxious and nervous about leading people for the first time. This book taught me that it was ok to feel this way and, actually, these emotions, if managed correctly, can help you become a better leader. The book focuses on how you lead with both your heart and your head. I still pick it up now and then when I am low on confidence or needing reassurance.

Julie Grace: Vice Principal Curriculum and Attainment

When the Adults Change Everything Changes by Paul Dix

The reason I have chosen this book is that it completely changed the way I thought about student behaviour.

It encourages us as adults to think about how our behaviour impacts on others and challenges us to be consistent, kind and (outwardly) unshockable. It gives real life examples and practical solutions that I have used successfully on how to manage behaviour in a positive way and reminds us that the only behaviour we can control is our own.

There is a great section comparing a school/college behaviour policy with prison regulations from Alcatraz - see if you can work out if it is education or incarceration. (FYI – I was totally wrong with my guesses!)

I’d love to see the strategies used across the college and would recommend everyone who has any interactions with students reads it.

Steve Taylor: Vice Principal People and Performance

The Prince by Machiavelli

Slightly tongue in cheek, I have chosen ‘The Prince’ by Machiavelli because I think this is what a lot of people believe management is like - you hear a lot about managers or employers with ‘Machiavellian’ schemes and plots.

Machiavelli is one of the least successful leadership gurus that you will ever find, and it reminds me that you often learn more from what doesn’t work, as you do from success. The ‘Machiavellian’ approach and values never work, and reading ‘The Prince’ is a good reminder that trust, openness, honesty and simplicity always outweigh cunning schemes!

Jaki Carnegie: Vice Principal Corporate Services

Agile Project Management Handbook

As we use service design to codesign what we want our College to be (#DAfutureWOW), I’m keen to use my learning from ‘Agile Project Management’ to support the project.

The principles of focus on business need, collaboration, never compromising quality, building incrementally and developing iteratively, communicating continuously and clearly, demonstrating control and delivering on time, chime well with what we want for this project. This should ensure the College continues to be a high-quality skills provider for our students, staff and our communities.

Leann Crichton: Head of Administration Operations

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

The reason I like this is it reminds me that we hold the key to our own destiny.

To achieve your end goal isn’t always simple and sometimes you have to take the long route or cross lots of hurdles, but I still hold the key to getting there.

Its message is simple; positive thinking will attract positive things.

Abi Mawhirt: Head of People and Organisational Development

Be More Pirate by Sam Conniff

I love this book because I learned lots of things I didn’t know about pirates AND it was full of positive and constructive challenges that can be used in work and in day-to-day life.

This book reminds us that when the rules and conventions don’t serve people and the planet anymore, it’s time to do something. Pirates flew this flag high and proud – ‘stop asking for permission to do what you know is right’ is a hugely powerful message in organisations and for individuals, and especially leaders as we navigate VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) landscapes.

This book changed how I do my job and it was a really enjoyable, engaging and quick read too.

Billy Grace: Head of Estates

Net Positive by Paul Polman and Andrew Winston

There’s a thought process around that running any organization in a truly sustainable way will cost money. I’ve never believed that for one second. Quite the opposite.

That’s why my stand-out business book is ‘Net Positive’ by Paul Polman and Andrew Winston. These two men put forward a compelling case that businesses can do well, even better, by contributing to their communities and protecting their environment. There isn’t a day goes by when I don’t heed those words.

Jane Roscoe: Director of Curriculum

A Richer Life: How Economics Can Change the Way We Think and Feel by Philip Roscoe

I love this book because my husband wrote it! 😊

Seriously, though, this book has a lot to say about how we make our lives worthwhile. As we emerge from the darkness of a pandemic, let’s remember the value of education – the power of collective activity, sharing and giving, and learning together. These values have sustained us throughout. It’s too easy to get bogged down with targets, budgets and rankings.

This book helps us to recognize that these tools are means to an end: improving the lives of our learners and the opportunities for wider communities.

Steph Toms: Director of Curriculum

Everybody Matters by Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia

I was fortunate enough to get a copy of this book at an event I attended where Bob Chapman was speaking about leadership.

The book really resonated with me and Chapman’s experience as the immensely successful CEO of Barry-Wehmiller proves that the truly human leadership really works – I would highly recommend it to anyone working in a leadership role, or indeed anyone working with other people.

Andy Ross: Head of ICT

Getting Things Done - the art of stress-free productivity by David Allen

This is both a self-help and business book.

I found that after reading this book (and taking part in an associated training course) my stress levels reduced hugely and allowed me to simply manage my workload and easily track my teams’ output.