Type of Fellowship: General
Year of Fellowship: 2015
How have the first three months of your Fellowship been?
This quarter has just been extremely busy. At work I’ve been trying to set budgets without having funding confirmed, waiting and hoping for all the pieces of the jigsaw to fall into place. And into this has been thrown the Fellowship and the need to try to think beyond the budget, the next nine months and the organisation and instead think about questions for research, my development needs and what I want to do better. Hugely challenging.
What has been your greatest challenge amongst all this?
Working out how to free up my time to create space to think and study. This has involved needing to think through how I restructure the organisation but also, having considered myself quite good at delegation, I have become aware of how uncomfortable I find letting go of work. All the restructuring in the world won't solve that.
Having built a management team internally I have also become more conscious of their management inexperience. Thinking through how to create time has meant thinking through who can be upskilled and how to move work from myself.
How has your leadership been having an impact on those you work with?
I have heard a few times in recent weeks about external people saying how easy my organisation is to work with. I don't think I can take all the credit but I do always stress the need for this. Being a good partner is an essential part of what we do and we have this written into everything. Having staff understand and practice this and people comment on it makes me think that my lead has been followed.
In what way you are a better leader now than at the start of the Fellowship?
Its only been a very short time so I don't know that I am a better leader yet, but taking time to think through my development needs has made me more reflective about these areas. I feel more confident saying that there are things I'm not good at, that I work in a certain way, that I'm not perfect.
I think that simply being chosen for a Clore Social Fellowship has given me more confidence.'A Clore effect' one of my Trustees called it, when for the first time ever I told my Board that they needed to stop shifting away from governance and into operations, which is my remit.
Tell us about an important lesson you’ve learnt so far during the Fellowship.
The need to be able to tell my story - watching people do this as part of the residential, both fellows and facilitators - was genuinely revelatory. People like me spend the majority of our lifetime silencing ourselves because our story feels too much or not one that others will recognise or identify with. I came away from the residential knowing that I needed to find a way to say this is who I am, where I come from, to show vulnerability but in a way that I feel comfortable with.
What support or inspiration have you had from your fellow Fellows?
The questioning and feedback that I received in my Action Learning set allowed me to let go of anxiety and defensiveness about a decision that I had made in a very short period of time and move on to doing the next steps necessary. I left feeling so much better about my decision, about following through but also about the group.
So how would you sum up your Fellowship journey so far?
Exciting, scary, stressful!
Current principal role: Chief Executive Officer
Current principal organisation: Age UK Lewisham and Southwark
Research: Second tier organisations and how they can better support frontline delivery organisations