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Leading Change in practice: Jonathan Andrews

Leading Change in practice: Jonathan Andrews

The power of networks and the bonds we share as a Commonwealth family

Queen’s Young Leader, Jonathan Andrews reflects on the Leading Change course, what he learnt about his motivation and the power of networks – and how this has given him greater insight into the connections we have as Commonwealth countries.

In March I had the great privilege of attending the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Awards at Marlborough House, having been shortlisted to represent the UK for my work in increasing autism employment opportunities.

The awards were a great opportunity to network with people from across cultural and geographical borders, learning more about the similarities and differences in Commonwealth countries.

Being immersed in these cultures at the awards – and feeling perfectly at home amongst them – made me reflect on what I had learnt throughout the Leading Change course.

Tevin Shepherd dancing with a marimba band at the Commonwealth Youth Awards

Queen's Young Leader, Tevin Shepherd dancing with the marimba band who performed at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Awards

We’ve had lessons on mission statements and how best to present what drives us and what we do; on our connections and networks; and on the leaders we feel have most influenced us in the world we’ve done.

I could certainly think of several who’ve influenced me to achieve.

But while as individuals, Queens’ Young Leaders have all succeeded in one way or another, I think it is also important to recognise the bonds we share as being part of the Commonwealth family, and to consider ourselves not only as hundreds of independent actors, but as members of a greater institution.

What I learnt

Module 1 of Leading Change was titled All about me. We took part in a number of activities to better understand what made us tick, why we do what we do and how we can better understand our internal motivators to help our work.

One of the activities involved drawing a network of people you feel have influenced you in your life – including friends, family, those working in workplaces or institutions alongside you and role models – to discover our own sphere of influence.

From this activity I learnt I am the kind of person who throws themselves into their work, and keeps engaged in lots of different projects. It’s only once you pause and look around that you see the network you’ve build up through doing so.

The course made me recognise that often I don’t consider this enough when making decisions. I assume I’ll have to work alone on a task, when often reaching out to networks and engaging them can be a really effective way to make change. 

Putting learning into practice

I took this approach when I was asked to be involved in setting up a youth council for the Council for Education in the Commonwealth. I received over 50 replies expressing interest in just three days – showing the real power of leveraging contacts in driving change.

More recently, I was very excited to discover I have been shortlisted for a World Autism Award, representing the UK at an international conference in Canada. And so, as a Londoner, I will be able to experience the thrill of a Commonwealth tour to another country that the other nominees experienced at the youth awards.

Since becoming a Queen’s Young Leader, I haven’t yet had that chance to be fully immersed in another Commonwealth country by actually setting foot there. Later this year I will discover what this means.