Sharon Turnbull (1976 Leaver) – Learning to Lead starts at school

Learning to Lead starts at School
by
Professor Sharon Turnbull
(1970-76)

Writing this article has cast me back many years to the exciting seventies when I was at MTGS. In my memories I am often in the old library where I first found my passion for books, or sitting in the front row of the classroom, curious for learning and asking the difficult questions. (I have never given up this trait!). Most importantly, I remember the wonderful and often eccentric teachers who dedicated their lives to helping us to develop our inquiring minds, as well as our values and character. These teachers undoubtedly sowed the first seeds of leadership capability in our fertile minds, trusting the process, despite rarely seeing the long term results of their efforts. Together, we learned to share knowledge and debate ideas – skills that I have valued every day of my life since.

My career has followed many unexpected turns. A language degree led me to a job as a graduate trainee with an airline. From there, I moved into Human Resource Management at an airport, then a manufacturer, and a retailer. When finally frustrated with life in the corporate world, I decided to become an academic and to study organisations and management in order to teach others. Today, as Director of the Centre for Applied Leadership Research at The Leadership Trust I talk to many managers about how they first learned to lead. There is no doubt that this journey is very powerful when it starts at school. For me this is certainly true. My years at Merchant Taylors’ gave me one of the most precious and highly valued gifts that I could ever have wished for – the gift of self – confidence. At MTGS, through the many opportunities on offer to take early responsibility, I built the self – confidence that has carried me through my career and has been an essential foundation for my life.

Sharon Turnbull