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Kate Swade

Kate Swade

Type of Fellowship: General
Year of Fellowship: 2013

Update Autumn 2013

How have the last few months as a Fellow been?

This has been a really good couple of months and I feel like I’m making real progress. The last residential felt like it came a bit early for me, I can imagine that I would have found some of the sessions more useful in November than in September – but that’s just the way things have fallen for me.

I have found my focus for the next year: learning more about systems thinking and how to apply it, particularly through working with groups of people. I want to use my research project to both explore the theory of systems thinking and the practice of facilitating a systems based event to come up with a practical set of actions.

I’ve got conversations lined up with two potential secondment hosts in the first week of January, and have a much clearer sense of what I’m asking them for, and what I could do for them, than I did before.

In what way you are a better leader now than at the start of the Fellowship?

I am going to make a point of asking people over the next couple of months to see if I can get some insight into this. I feel that I’m calmer and more comfortable in my own skin, but I’m not sure if anyone has noticed a difference! 

What impact is your leadership having on your organisation?

I always find this question really hard to answer! I feel that the way I am chairing the Toynbee estates committee is helpful and making the governance process useful rather than a hindrance, which is a relief to the staff. 

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far?

That you really can’t tell me anything. I do need to learn by doing, and I need to find ways of making that happen. I also need to trust myself. I think that’s a lesson I will need to continue to learn, though.

What have you learned from your fellow Fellows?

My action learning set have been brilliant, and their support and encouragement has made me really believe that I can do some of this stuff. It’s such a valuable experience. 

How would you sum up your Fellowship experience so far?

I feel like something has shifted, almost imperceptibly. I am seeing the world and myself in slightly different ways, and my ideas about the changes I can make are both getting more ambitious and seeming more achievable. I do genuinely feel like a different (better!) person than I did this time last year. 


Twitter: @kateswade
Personal website/ blog: commonsandsystems.tumblr.com

Current principal role: Development Manager
Current principal organisation: Shared Assets
Other leadership role 1: Trustee & Chair of Estates Committee
Other organisation 1: Toynbee Hall

Research: Systems Thinking for Community Groups - an investigation
Research topics: Community development; Governance; Social enterprise;
Secondment host: Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation

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