Gemma Rocyn Jones
Type of Fellowship: Specialist
Year of Fellowship: 2014
What has been your greatest challenge on the Fellowship so far?
In Brett Wigdortz’s account of how Teach First began he talks about ‘valleys of death’. These are the low points and possible roadblocks that follow high successes. When I read this on holiday I realised that ‘valleys of death’ was an apt description of how the last few months have felt after the highs of joining Clore Social and starting a new programme of work. Without being too overdramatic, unforeseen challenges have made me question many things including whether I really do have what it takes to be a leader.
Leadership is hard and requires stamina. Things don’t always go to plan, and people don’t always respond in the way you expect. I recognise now how important the ‘look after yourself’ aspect of the Clore framework is. To have the best chance of tackling issues positively, you have to be emotionally resilient – physically as much as mentally.
How has your leadership been having an impact on those you work with or for?
I’m saying less and listening more. It became apparent at the hostage negotiation how even prompting someone can lead the direction of a conversation whilst keeping quiet can allow the real issues or ideas to emerge. I’ve found it particularly effective in line management.
In what way are you a better leader now than at the start of the Fellowship?
One of the guiding principles that the Fellows agreed for ourselves is telling truth with grace. We shouldn’t be afraid to hold up a mirror to each other when needed, but in a constructive and kind way.
I’ve always shied away from conflict, both at work and in my personal life, seeing it as a sign of hostility. I’ve now realised that being honest and open about differences is actually more of a sign of trust and should be seen positively. I’m no longer hiding away from differences. It’s still not comfortable but I can feel the improvement.
How have your fellow Fellows inspired you recently?
The generosity of all the fellows has been striking over the last few months. Daniela’s idea for us to provide 360 feedback to each other turned out to be an unexpected outpouring of support and respect. I have been inspired by the courage that Eugenie has shown through her honesty and openness about her experiences. George and Kevin also kindly gave me insights and introductions for a project I’m involved in.
Meeting with Clore Social Fellows is like inhaling pure oxygen; you get an immediate rush and leave feeling replenished and fit to take the world on.
Current principal role: Development Director
Current principal organisation: Right to Succeed
Research: People like us: The unconscious bias we carry with us and the role it plays in UK social investment.
Research topics: Leadership; Social investment;
Secondment host: MaRS Centre for Impact Investing