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Enterprise Excellence Episode 12: Lyn Bishop


Welcome to Episode 12 of the enterprise excellence podcast. Today we'll be exploring excellence in education. I'm so pleased to have with me today Dr. Lyn Bishop. Lyn has held many positions in education, working in public schools, the Department of Education, and also forming her own school, Sheldon College in 1997. Lyn has received an order of Australia for her work in education. She has won the Queensland and Australian Entrepreneur of the Year and is a much recognized leader and expert in the field of education. She's also a respected and much loved principal of Sheldon College, located in the Bayside area of Brisbane, Australia. Lyn, thank you so much for joining us today to share your story and knowledge. We really appreciate it.

Summary Keywords

organisation, business, education, guess, career, stage, develop, culture, teaher, school, learn, leaders, life, challenges, excellence, people, backstory, future, Sheldon, understand.


In this episode Lyn shares her life story and the things that created who she has become. Lyn’s early life was tough but loving, growing up in outback Australia in a single room shack. After her father walked out on them, her Mum moved to Tambo to live with Lyn's grandparents. The five of them lived in a one bedroom cottage. Lyn's grandfather, who they called, Dad, worked out in the shearing sheds during the week and came into town on Friday evenings. He was inebriated from the time he came into town until he left for the sheds again on Sunday evenings. Lyn's mother worked incredibly hard scrubbing floors in the local hotel to give Lyn and her brother a quality life.

Lyn learned early to appreciate the small things in life. Her mother lay the blueprint for emotional resilience in Lyn and her brother. They were always taught to think about what they had, not what they didn’t have. They were taught that in hardship you develop a capacity to appreciate the beauty that exists in the simplest elements of life. There is a difference in life between fate and destiny. Fate is what happens to you. Destiny is what you create.

Lyn's journey into education was a tough path that's for sure. Repeated illness and prolonged ill-health almost cost her that dream, that began with Lyn teaching her chooks with great gusto. Her Guidance Officer at school told her that she would never make it because of the amount of schooling she had missed through ill health. Lyn gives thanks to that Guidance Officer for firing up her determination to show him she could be anything she wanted to be. She has never ever told any child they can’t be something they have set their heart upon.

Moving up through the ranks in the teaching profession was not an easy thing, particularly being a young female at the time, in a male dominated profession. Becoming a DP and Principal was not an easy route. The glass ceiling at that time was a real barrier for women in education, but only if you saw it that way. Lyn came to view it as a self-imposed limitation; no one has control over your mental attitude. It’s not what you are in this life that holds you back. It’s what you think you are not..

Lyn spent 32 years in Education Queensland and rose rapidly through the ranks from classroom teacher to Senior Mistress, Deputy Principal, Principal, Deputy Executive Director of Metropolitan East Region and A/Director of Quality Assurance in Central Office. That promotional trail was also taking her further and further away from children, and her love of children is the reason that she entered education in the first instance. She then experienced a clash of her personal values with the organisation's values, and this caused a major shift in her life. Lyn decided to open her school, Sheldon College in the highly competitive arena of private education. Sheldon College did not come about without significant battles on all fronts from Lyn's family and friends.

Moving forward, Lyn believes that as a school, they have to deal with rapid transformational change and be able to deal with ambiguity. They need to understand that we all now live in a new reality; and have to deal with the consequences of this so called “New Normal” – financial; social, economic, psychological implications that have become so prevalent since the onset of this pandemic. As things currently stand, the end game is unknown. Everything is moving at an accelerated pace. Our job as leaders is to future proof the organisation. As a way in future proofing the business, Lyn reflects strategically on the importance of maintaining customer- centricity in her business. She believes that the staff need to be mindful of the changes COVID-19 has brought about for their stakeholders – their students, staff and community.

Lyn believes that the only way to stay at the top of your game is to innovate.

What makes us successful in the past will not necessarily make us successful in the future. We can’t simply be good at what we do; we have to be great at what we do.


1:59 min We were always taught to think about what we had, not what we didn't have. And we were taught that in hardship, you develop a capacity to appreciate the beauty that exists in the simplest elements of life. But I think the most fundamental lesson we were taught is that there's a difference in life between fate and destiny. Fate is what happens to you, destiny is what you create.

11:33 min And I think in the first instance, you have to be able to offer a quality product and or service. And in doing so you must be able to clearly define your differential advantages. So we need to spend time thinking about what what are the benefits that we sell in our business? And what is the nature of the service we provide?

14:39 min Creativity and innovation must be built into the lifeblood of the organization. And I think far too often, too, we tend to forget that it's people who are at the heart of the educational enterprise. And organizations aren't going to work unless the people in them do.

17:14 min We've got to once again have them believe fundamentally, that they can be anything they set their hearts upon in this world.

19:32 min I found here at Sheldon that we've had to undergo, I guess, a reboot of our culture in light of the COVID-19 experience. We've had to go back and examine our fundamental purpose.

23:29 min And, you know, in my mind, core values and core purpose become the anchors, particularly in a world of constant change.

24:28 min A positive culture is what's going to sustain us I believe, through whatever challenges lie ahead.

27:41 min Another lesson that that's come to me of late in the circumstances is that leading others in a process requires a demonstration of empathy. First and foremost, it becomes essential to be able to determine clarity around your priorities, to be able to foster collaboration, and transparency in everything you do.


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