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3 of our Forces in Mind Trust Fellows share their insights

The motivations, challenges, and rewards that occur when participating in a leadership development course can vary greatly. We caught up with some of our Forces in Mind Trust Fellows to find out what their journey revealed. Here are some of their thoughts on their Clore Social Fellowship learning experience.

Victoria Muir

Vikki Muir is the Executive Officer in the Grants and Welfare Team at ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.

"Looking back to the initial application stage for the Clore Social Leadership Fellowship, if I could say anything to myself when I was wondering whether to apply, questioning if I would be the right fit after looking at previous Fellows and asking myself what I could bring to the table, it would be a resounding Do It. Without a doubt, my Clore Social year has been one of the most enlightening, rewarding and challenging that I have ever experienced, and I would not be the person that I now am without it.

It is rare that we can take time out from our everyday work lives with all the pressures and expectations that they bring, to be able to reflect on ourselves, our leadership journey and truly spend time to learn from others. This year, I have taken every opportunity to visit organisations outside of my sector, to learn from them, develop relationships and share knowledge. It has been truly inspirational. Clore Social has given me the opportunity to become involved in often unfamiliar ways of learning, develop a wide-reaching peer network and be part of an Action Learning Set, which was a new, and often challenging experience for me. I may have approached some aspects of the programme with initial hesitation or doubts, but I can honestly say that there has not been one element of the last year that I haven’t benefited from, even if I may not have realised it at the time."

Louise Simpson

Louise Simpson is the Policy and Research Director for the Army Families Federation (AFF), a charity representing the interests of British Army families.

"What a journey it has been – so many lessons learnt, so many connections made and an unlocking of a thirst to know much, much more.

The combination of group training, personal training budgets, group challenges and secondments meant that every aspect of myself and why I do what I do was challenged this year. Everything I have learnt is already influencing how my team works and how we get the best out of each other.

What every one of the people working or volunteering in our sector does is change lives – whether that is by working hard to improve access to the right service, finding new medical interventions, building resilience or levelling playing fields. That very fact means the third sector shouldn't rely on passion and integrity alone and basic training - that to be truly effective we need to give our staff the very best training so they can be more effective at changing people's lives.

That realisation is the main outcome of this year for me and a resolution that somehow, I will find a way for our staff to have access to networks and training so they too can unlock their potential so that we all can be more effective in what we do – changing people's lives for the better!"

Elizabeth George

Liz George is Director of Development at The Royal College of Psychiatrists, and was formerly Head of Fundraising at The Poppy Factory, the employability charity for wounded, injured and sick veterans.

"I had expected to learn about the theory of leadership, of models and behaviours and of the particular skills and experiences which 'great' leaders have in common. I quickly learnt that I could re-examine the theory of 'great' or heroic leadership more thoroughly in the context of the social sector. Whilst I had previously been concerned with externally focused models of leadership, I had not been thinking about how such models might apply to my own circumstances, my style and how these could contribute to my own organisation.

The theme of the Clore Social year for me therefore, became much more personal and reflective than I had anticipated. As a group of Fellows, we were encouraged to look within ourselves to determine the types of leader we wanted to be and to find our voices within that context. The Clore Social framework is to 'Know yourself, Be yourself and Look after yourself'; knowing myself was a logical place to start. It was illuminating to explore my own 360° review after feedback from my team, peers, managers and key stakeholders. There is nothing quite like hearing how others see you, to give yourself a reality check.

Above all, the most valuable lesson I learnt was of the importance of authenticity in leadership. And that is why the Clore Social competency of 'Being Yourself' was so meaningful for me. Authenticity as a leader can inspire trust and as a result of this year, I now know that for me, trust is paramount. I want to inspire trust in those I lead, I aspire to trust my own ability as a leader and I need to trust those that lead me. The Clore Social Fellowship has enabled me to be clear about what drives me, to articulate the impact that I would like to have on those around me and to define my own values. So that feels like a good place to start a leadership journey."

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