In July 2020 I applied and was lucky to be accepted onto Clore Social Leadership ‘Leading Beyond Lockdown’ four-month programme. Having found myself redeployed in a new role since March 2020, as part of Lewisham’s Covid-19 Coordinated Community response, Leading Beyond Lockdown helped equip me with the tools, skills and confidence to navigate through the challenges of a new role working during unprecedented times. This blog post is an adaptation of my final assignment: a reflection on how Clore’s capabilities framework could be applied to bring out the best in our teams, and communities.
Clore’s Social Leadership capabilities framework
The Social Leadership Capabilities Framework is the foundation of Clore’s approach to leadership. It outlines the attributes, behaviours and skills required for successful social sector leadership and what these skills and behaviours look like in action.
Working with and through others by creating spaces for participation and co-production
Excellent leadership involves working with and through others. This involves creating and holding spaces for those we support to share their experiences as well as co-producing projects. This participative approach will lead to better outcomes, for our organisations and communities. For example, in 2019, we used participatory action research as a form of collective evaluation to understand what gets people involved and engaged in our organisation, Rushey Green Time Bank. This involved training members to carry out an appreciative inquiry so we could collectively research what members appreciated about our organisation’s approach, what worked well and what we needed to take forward. Involving members in the research process brought in new and diverse perspectives to our learning. This helped us better define and describe who we are, what we do and what makes it special. Furthermore, by training members to undertake the research we developed their skills and abilities alongside our own organisational development. This was a form of collaborative leadership that worked with and through others to create change.
Empowering Enablers: invest in your teams and those around you to build a path for future leaders
Empowering Enablers actively seek to develop and bring others with them on their leadership journeys, building paths for people around them to move forward, beyond their current roles and organisations to achieve great things. This begins by investing in our teams and coworkers through training, mentoring and coaching. Clore taught me simple techniques and approaches to managing and developing others, which can be applied to our daily work routines. Used intentionally, these can be extremely effective without the need for a large training budget. Firstly, mentorship. Mentorship should become part of everyone’s leadership journey. I have seen the direct benefit of finding a mentor to help me build up knowledge and relationships in a new sector. My mentor has provided connections, suggested networks and approaches from their own experience to guide my own. I have benefited hugely from the time freely given by someone to help in my development, which means in turn, I should do the same for someone else in the future. By cultivating a culture of reciprocity in mentorship, where we create an expectation that we are mentored and mentor, would result in a commitment to developing others alongside ourselves and in turn establish a legacy for our work. Secondly, peer learning. Creating space for peer learning is also part of enabling others. By giving partners or service users opportunities to share their knowledge and experiences with others we acknowledge that we all bring something to the table and as such build appreciation and trust in one another and our assets. This is inherent in the work we do at Rushey Green Time Bank: whether through our skills exchange programme, our peer-learning training for community organisations or through the Covid Food Network where food groups support one another through sharing resources, learning and connections.
Similarly, regular coaching sessions can equip people with the reflective and practical tools necessary to support our development as effective leaders. I was already seeing a coach prior to Clore (who thankfully connected me to Clore) who had helped me to navigate through a period of change and challenge, building my confidence in myself and my abilities. Through Clore’s inclusion of coaching and peer coaching, I was lucky to both receive and practice coaching to develop my own coaching skills through praxis. Through developing these skills, Clore taught me how to apply these skills to management and see the positive impact for both parties in this exchange.
We are all leaders – we just need time, space and investment to emerge
Clore taught me that we all have the potential to be leaders, even when we don’t think of ourselves as such. I used to think people were born with leadership qualities, yet given the time, space, and tools to develop, and with encouragement of coaches and peers we can all become leaders in our own right. This is particularly important for people who face multiple barriers to access leadership positions and power in our society. Ensuring leadership courses are accessible while offering opportunities for mentoring, coaching and self-development can help to tackle inequalities within the sector and support work to create a more equitable society.
Using our values to guide us to become Courageous Changemakers
As leaders in the social sector, particularly those such as myself, who represent many of the dominant groups that hold power and privilege in our society (white, British, middle class), we must work to challenge the structures and systems that create or perpetuate inequality and exclusion. This work is not easy. Dismantling systems of power and privilege and challenging discrimination and inequality not only in society but in our own organisations and areas of work, requires courage and a commitment to the life-long work that is required. It can mean making lonely decisions and standing by values and convictions when challenged.Clore’s programme taught me how to use my values to do this. It has helped me make better decisions or commit to those that were harder, both within and outside of work. For example, at work this meant pushing to take forward actions set out in our organisation’s Black Lives Matter statement following George Floyd’s murder. Outside of work, applying my values has led me to change where I bank, which charities and groups I support, and the work I commit to in my free time. There is so much more to be done but holding my values close will help me grow into the Courageous Changemaker I aspire to be.
In short, the Clore leadership programme has been transformative. It has transformed the way I understand leadership, helped me to begin to see myself (and act) as a leader, and taught me how to lead better with and through others. I encourage everyone working in the social sector and interested in exploring leadership to look at Clore’s learning opportunities so that together we can transform our teams, organisations and most importantly our communities; to be the best that we can be.
A special thank you to my amazing coach (and local food hero) Penny Marshall for introducing me to Clore and coaching me through the hardest of times and decisions last year; to Pat Joseph my Clore coach who gave me the tools to see things differently, and to Lucy Antal who generously agreed to be my mentor as an aspiring food activist and community development worker.
Interested in Clore Leadership Programme?
Clore Social Leadership was founded to develop leaders with a social purpose so that they can transform their communities, organisations and the world around them.
The Emerging Leader Online 2021 Programmeis a six-month leadership development journey designed to help leaders build their leadership potential, strengthen their networks and drive social change.
Further information including content, key dates, and FAQs can be found by visiting the website here.