Why I love January – A new year for making change happen

Why I love January – A new year for making change happen


I love January. A new year is such a great time to re-cast ourselves and our organisations.

Three highlights of 2015 were the continued success of our ILM Level 7 Certificate in Leadership and Management programme, Appledore; the development of really cutting-edge interactive e-learning; and, of course, my visit to see Michelle Obama at the White House.

Jane Farrell at the White House - Views from EW

Michelle Obama really did inspire me. She and the senior people we met at the White House and the Senate were so compellingly able to tell their stories about how they came to be doing what they are doing. Everyone we met could articulate how gender and race and class and sexual orientation and all other aspects of themselves and their lives were part of their personal and professional jigsaw.

They had all thought about their personal story so well it only took two minutes for them to tell it, and then move seamlessly on to their responsibilities for criminal justice across the US, their roles as senior economists, etc. I wonder how much this is to do with Barack and Michelle Obama’s influence, as they are so articulate about their own journeys.

The whole experience reminded me to talk to the leaders I coach about honing their own stories, and to revisit my own, too. Our own stories belie those leadership models and ways of thinking that say only people ‘like this’ or ‘like that’ can inspire, create positive change, or deliver innovative products and services. Our stories can create new models of effective, inclusive leadership.

I feel very excited about 2016. There is such a lot to do, and, as I say every January, I am going to be a much better person this year!