Listening to my latest ‘Success’ Management CD on my way home from work, the publisher’s letter to his listeners was about Mentors and Role Models in your life and why they are important to your success. I had just over two hours of drive time to both listen and reflect on my Mentors and Role Models who have helped and supported me in both my careers. I have Mentors for a number of areas of my work; Role Models can cover both my work and my personal life, from being a parent to being a Managing Director and a Leader. I consider myself to be very fortunate in having some incredibly talented people around me.

Once I made it home and started my weekend, I picked up the local Essex County Standard (newspaper) and on page 5, I read the banner headline: “It feels as though we’ve finally come home – head” “School moves into ‘awesome’ £7m home after fundraising drive”. This was about Market Field School in Elmstead Market (near to Colchester), a school my daughter Bettina went to from the age of 5 to 16 years old. This article is about how someone’s vision finally became a reality. This is a blog post about ‘Vision’ and my role model for Vision is Gary Smith, Market Field’s Head Teacher.

For as long as I have known Gary (since the early 1990s) both as a parent and as a parent school governor for four years, it has been his dream to build a new purpose-built school for his pupils. “The investment is a validation of the work the school does with students who have moderate learning disabilities and autism.  Market Field School is rated as outstanding, but the old school was not fit for purpose. It was originally built for 60 students but its reputation and popularity lead to nearly 200 students being taught there.” (Essex County Standard)

What have I learnt about Vision from Gary and how I see Vision as an important part of my leadership endeavours?

Leadership and Vision:

  • It is not enough to talk about having a vision unless there is evidence that you have one, otherwise they are just words on a paper. When you have a vision then get to work on it straight away
  • It is about where you want to be. So write a compelling Vision Statement that sets out your vision.  Paint a picture of what can be.
  • Make your vision so big and exciting that it captures everyone’s imagination
  • Your vision is not about you! Your vision needs to make a difference in other people’s lives.
  • Tell people about your vision, share your vision – make it their vision too so that you have buy in. You will not achieve this vision unless those around you feel they have a stake in it.
  • Without vision you are just managing. So it is a question I ask of aspiring leaders and managers – what is your Vision for the people you support and your organisation?
  • Never take your eyes off your vision – you need a relentless focus, however be patient as it takes as long as it takes
  • You can’t fake it until you make it – you need to be committed and passionate about the vision. By being an authentic leader you will gain the trust of your colleagues for your vision

Once you have a Vision then:

  • Don’t forget the day job. Market Field School’s mission is to be a ‘Centre of Excellence’ for supporting students with mild learning disabilities and autism.  This is a mission that Gary and his team work to accomplish every day for their students.
  • Recognise there will be highs and lows – obstacles and setbacks. “I don’t believe I have done anything other than be bloody minded.  No was never a word in my comprehension” –  Gary Smith
  • Take every opportunity to remind people about the vision – shout it from the roof tops!!
  • Create a momentum around your Vision. Your energy will make the difference.

I recently came across a YouTube video from Market Field.  In the video Gary talks about the school moving to new premises and reflects on his memories before the current building is closed. We were overjoyed as a family to hear that one of those memories was of Bettina and what that memory meant to him. Bettina left the school 12 years ago!  The memory had significance and what she had done had made an impact.  Here is the link:

For more about this inspiring school I personally recommend you check out their website:

And for visionary films of the school move check out: