As “huge numbers” of Brits are faced with the prospect of having to find new employment as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the economy, prime minister Boris Johnson has this week announced that UK citizens will be able to access four years of loans to access higher education in a “shakeup” of the sector. Meanwhile, Hayley Mason, director and senior solicitor at Education Law specialist Sen Legal, offers her take on leadership and emphasises the importance of recognising team efforts, as opposed to individual feats.
Leadership in Focus
Sitting down with Leaders Council interviewer Matthew O’Neill, Mason spoke about her experiences working with a close-knit and small team at her legal practice.
Mason said: “For me, a leader is someone that should be out to influence people and to think, speak and act to make a difference in other people’s lives as well as their own.
“My personal leadership style is very hands-on. Working with a small team, I lead from the front because I do not believe in asking somebody to do something you would not do yourself. In a small team, behaving in such a way as a leader is far more prone to being questioned.
“I think in a working environment like mine which is with a quite small team and very hands on, it is best to help them in all avenues and my team therefore know they can ask for my help whenever they might need it.”
When asked whether she felt there were any clear differences in working with a small team compared to a larger one, Mason said: “I think there are obvious differences. A traditional structure that could be in place within a large team could delegate different tasks to specific departments. With just 16 of us here at Sen Legal in comparison, it is very much all hands on deck when cases come into our practice and we get everybody involved to ensure we do things by the deadline.
“There is not any traditional hierarchy in place here and people can put things to one side and concentrate on the more major matters at hand as and when they arise. We do not try to overburden each other.”
Working within such a small group, Mason admitted that there is inevitable conflict and friction that can occur. However, she believes that the key to managing that as a leader is to make every member of the team feel valued, recognise their hard work and credit team achievements rather than singling-out individuals.
“Being in a small team there is friction, but as a leader you need to make everyone feel valued and appreciated. This is something we have strived to do as a practice even as we’ve grown, even down to the simple everyday act of just asking how people are so they know we care for their wellbeing.
“Personally, I make a point of crediting my team for their hard work to make sure it is recognised, and I say ‘thank you’ to them when we do have our successes. Success to me is never down to just one person, it is a team effort and team recognition I think is where some leaders can slip up at times.
“It is important to make people feel like stakeholders as opposed to just staff members.”
Speaking at a further education college in Exeter, prime minister Boris Johnson has said that the government plans to do away with what he called a “bogus distinction” between further and higher education to give more UK citizens the right to access student loans.
The move comes as “huge numbers” of people were faced with the prospect of finding new work after losing their jobs as a consequence of Covid-19 and its impact on the economy.
Under the new plans, the government will make higher education loans more flexible so that adults and young people can space out study across their lives.
There will also be a new “lifetime skills guarantee” which offers a fully funded college course to over-18s in England who do not have an A-Level or equivalent qualification.
The policy will be financed by a further £2.5 million investment into England’s National Skills Fund, which will come into effect in April 2021.
Johnson said: "We've got to end the pointless, nonsensical gulf that's been fixed for generations, more than 100 years, between the so-called academic and so-called practical varieties of education.
“It's absurd to talk about skills in this limited way. Now is the time to end this bogus distinction between FE and HE. We're going to change the funding model so that it's just as easy to get a student loan to do a year of electrical engineering at an FE college, or do two years of electrical engineering, as it is to get a loan to do a three-year degree in politics, philosophy and economics.
“We cannot, alas, save every job. What we can do is give people the skills to find and create new and better jobs. So, my message today is that at every stage of your life, this government will help you get the skills you need.”
Downing Street said that a full list of courses that will qualify for the new flexible loans will be announced in October.
Leadership in History
On this day in 1399, Henry IV was proclaimed King of England after King Richard II was deposed. Henry IV was crowned on October 13 that year.
September 30, 1939 was a major day in the history of sport broadcasting, as NBC broadcast the first televised American Football game, a college match between the Fordham Rams and Waynesburg Yellow Jackets. Fordham won the game 34-7.
In 1966, Bechuanaland declared its independence from the United Kingdom and became the Republic of Botswana. Sir Seretse Goitsebeng Maphiri Khama, a leader in the country’s independence movement, was elected its first president.