Recently at the Adult Literacy Organisers’ Forum I had an opportunity to listen, learn and reflect on leadership and innovation in adult literacy. It was wonderful to have this time with colleagues from around the country and to hear new perspectives and experiences. In my role as chairperson of the Adult Literacy Organisers’ Association I said a few words on the topic and shared my own views of leadership in adult literacy. I would like to share this with you all now!

There are many publications, much research and much academic writing on leadership – whether it is the essential characteristics, the attributes, skills or habits. One that resonates with me is Warren Bennis who wrote in ‘On Becoming a Leader’ about there being a number of basic ingredients. He identified 6 essential ingredients to leadership.

First of all a leader must have a guiding vision, that is a clear purpose and idea of what you want to do, along with skills to persist even when there are set-backs. Secondly a leader must have passion, this can be a vocational passion, a professional passion but you must love what you do. Thirdly he identified that a leader must have integrity, and he outlined that this must be drawn from a clear self-knowledge and maturity mixed working in a manner that is true to your principles and learned experience. Reflective practice is a key component of integrity. Fourthly he wrote about trust and how this must be earned, then about curiosity – the spirit of wonder and learning and the final ingredient in daring – experimenting, innovating and taking risks.

The Adult Literacy Services around the county are a little bit like baking a Warren Bennis cake – the six basic ingredients are evident and used daily by ALOs, DLEOS, tutors and learners. Each one shows leadership in different ways, at different times and in different contexts. In each centre they mix together to different degrees and produce some wonderful results. It is important to celebrate these results and reflect on ways to continue to achieve these great results together.

I extend warm wishes to you all at Christmas and for the New Year.