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Eleanor Southwood

Eleanor Southwood

Type of Fellowship: Specialist
Year of Fellowship: 2012

RNIB Fellowship

Update October 2012

I can hardly believe I’m entering the final phase of my Fellowship! Summer was spent planning my research, as well as attending the mini-residential with other Fellows, which was a good chance to catch up with everyone.

I developed a number of ideas for my research, mostly around storytelling. Whilst reading and talking to people about my ideas, I became increasingly interested in what the experience of leadership in the sector actually feels like to people who are doing it. There appears to be little research focused on this. Most work seems to focus on the role of leaders and the skills they need and less on the simple question ‘what is it like’? I’m planning to conduct in-depth interviews with a variety of leaders in order to find out more and perhaps identify some common themes.

My previous research work has always culminated in a written report so I’ve set myself the challenge of creating a different output from this Clore research. I’d therefore like to put together a radio-style documentary highlighting my findings.

Alongside my research, I’ll be focusing on training in the specific areas that I’d like to develop, in particular, facilitation skills, resilience and conflict management. I’m also hoping to take a trip to India to meet and explore social enterprises there in early 2013.

And of course, life beyond the Fellowship is also going to be a key focus in the next couple of months. My future in the social sector certainly looks very different now to how I imagined it at the start of my Fellowship. I’m becoming more interested in how to support effective projects to have an even greater impact, how processes like Action Learning could be used for social change and how to use existing and profitable business models to deliver social good. I’ll be working with my coach and seeking a mentor to support me to develop these ideas further.

Twitter: @elliesouthwood

Current principal role: Consultant
Current principal organisation: Nfp Consulting
Other leadership role 1: Vice-chair
Other organisation 1: RNIB
Other leadership role 2: Cllr and Cabinet Member, Environment
Other organisation 2: London Borough of Brent

Research: Experience of leaders in the social sector (Three Podcasts) Podcast 1 – What’s so different about leading in the not-for-profit sector? Podcast 2 – how to survive if you’re leading a not-for-profit Podcast 3 - Getting fit for the future
Research topics: Campaigning; Change management; Charity; Employment; Governance; Impact; Leadership; Values;
Secondment host: WaterAid

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