Michele Lee Golden
Type of Fellowship: General
Year of Fellowship: 2013
Update Spring 2014
How has this quarter been for you?
I’m raring to go, and grateful to Clore Social for its support during this incredible time of change in my life.
I’m returning to active duty with Clore Social after 10 months of maternity leave and I feel like a completely different person. Maternity leave has been physically exhausting, emotionally wild and mentally very freeing and creative. I feel more certain than ever about who I am, both in and out of work. Having a baby during my Fellowship meant I haven’t been able to take advantage of all the opportunities on offer, which I regret. However, it has also given me the most profound lessons in how to know myself, be myself and look after myself. From this perspective, having a baby while on Clore Social has enhanced rather than detracted from my Fellowship experience.
I’m now entering the last two quarters of my Fellowship feeling very focused and determined to get things done. I’ve kept up with my Action Learning Set whilst on leave and it’s been a powerful way of staying connected to other Fellows. I’ve switched coaches, settled on a research question, decided how I’m going to use the rest of my training budget, and I am starting my secondment. I’m also thinking ahead to what happens after the end of my Fellowship.
How has your leadership had an impact on those that you work with?
While I was on maternity leave, Cobble Street, the tiny little company I run with my neighbour-cum-friend-cum-business partner, lost a contract for a fairly big piece of work. It would have been easier to slink away with our tail between our legs but I insisted on holding a review call with the client (while breastfeeding my daughter in the background) so that we could extract as much learning as possible from the experience. It led to a very honest conversation with my business partner about behaviours that were holding us back and an even bigger and more honest conversation about our vision for the company.
In what way you are a better leader now than at the start of the Fellowship?
I am less afraid. I feel more wholly myself. I’m working with my coach on some pretty fundamental things about boundaries and responsibility, which feels scary and mildly embarrassing to be working on them at this stage of my life! However it is making me a better leader and a better wife/mother/daughter/friend/person.
Tell us about an important lesson you've learnt so far during your Fellowship
I have learnt that I don’t need anyone else’s permission to do what I want to do or be who I want to be. I only need permission from myself, which of course is the most difficult thing. The lesson I have learned (or rather, am learning) is how to grab that permission for myself.
What support have you received from your fellow Fellows?
My Action Learning Set is the gift that keeps on giving. In particular, David Russell recently gave me excellent advice on how to progress a number of ideas I was feeling stuck on. Emily Lomax has been a great and unexpected source of personal support on a difficult matter that I’m dealing with.
How would you sum up your Fellowship journey so far?
Clore Social is that rare thing: a truly unconditional learning experience. Of course there are deliverables but the Fellows have an incredible amount of freedom and support to steer their own course. I feel like I’ve mentally and emotionally progressed more in the past year and a half than in any other time in my career – and that’s even with taking time out to have a baby!
Current principal role: Operations and innovation consultant
Current principal organisation: Michele Lee Golden
Other leadership role 1: Director
Other organisation 1: Cobble Street Ltd
Research: Social Leadership Outside of Organisations
Research topics: Change management; Governance; Impact;
Secondment host: London Early Years Foundation