‘I have a confession to make… I’m an imposter’

There – I said it. It’s out there. Everyone now knows.

I’m don’t think I’m very good at comms, I do things differently to most people and did I mention I’m dyslexic.

So when I saw the Future Leaders programme I wasn’t going to apply. I didn’t think it was for people like me. I always feel like the one stood outside in the cold looking in at the real professionals doing their thing, but however hard I try I just don’t end up thinking like everyone else. The people who write blogs about experiences like this, the people who get on these courses are always…well…not imposters.

Looking at the development on offer, I couldn’t put away the thought of applying. The development on offer was like nothing else available. It’s like Top Gun but for public sector comms. Although I honestly couldn’t decide which would be worse. Applying and not getting on, or applying and getting on and having to sit in a room of future leaders – as an imposter.

But I applied.

And I was selected.

It’s fair to say when I got the e-mail I was really excited. So excited that my daughter asked for a pony. I frowned and looked up and she said, “Well haven’t you just won the lottery”.

That excitement turned to nerves when I thought about the first 2 days of development. The itinerary was unbelievable. The people who were presenting and we would be networking with were of the highest calibre. The Executive Director of Government Communications, The Director of National Security Communications, Head of Communications of the Office of the public Guardian (if that’s not the coolest job title I don’t know what is!) and it didn’t end there. Deputy Director of News at Cabinet Office, Head of Comms at Havering, Group head of comms at DEFRA, there were council leaders….and so many more. All these people giving up their time to meet and develop the next generation of leaders. That was nerve wracking enough.

It was doubly nerve wracking for me as up to the age of 16 things were not great, let’s just say I didn’t get out much. I got kicked out at 16. At 17 I went on a bus for the first time. At 18 I went on a train for the first time, I didn’t fly until my mid 20’s. The itinerary meant travelling to London (for the 2nd time ever) going on the tube (never done it) and meeting 13 complete strangers who had all been picked to be future leaders. This was a massive deal for me. I was terrified.

Spoiler Alert: I survived.

The 13 people turned out to be some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and they’re not my cohort, they’re my friends. The one thing that they all have in common is they are all different.

The people we met – the things we did –were life changing. I came back walking 2 feet taller. I’m not actually going to go into much more detail as to what we did for two reasons.

1. Because me writing this is not to boast or brag or name drop. It’s to try and inspire.

2. If I succeed in inspiring you to apply and you’re successful I don’t want to spoil all the surprises.

Let me end by saying the programme is called Future Leaders not future followers, not future be like everyone else, not future copiers. It’s OK to be different. It’s OK to be yourself – in fact you need to lead with Authenticity. It’s all about being authentic and being different.

And after two days in London, meeting and networking with some of the UK’s finest communicators and inspirational leaders and making 13 new friends, all of whom are amazing communicators and leaders – do you want to know what I learnt?

I may not be an imposter after all.


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