Elizabeth George

Insights from a Forces in Mind Trust Specialist Clore Social Fellow

One could argue that the military charity sector is bursting with great leaders...Highly ranked, well known individuals who have done extraordinary things, under extreme circumstances and achieved the traditional trappings of heroic leadership in the process.

Many of these great men and women have had full careers leading Service people, and now lead the organisations that serve those self same Service people and their families.

So, in that context, why does the military charity sector think it needs leadership development programmes to help shape its future leaders? And on a personal level, who on earth did I think I was, asking to be considered for such a programme?

I was still pondering this as I started my own leadership development journey as a 2017 Clore Social Fellow. As I checked in for my first Clore Social residential with 23 other ‘emerging social sector leaders’, we were each wondering what exactly we had got ourselves into.

Then I had my first lightbulb moment.

Leadership isn't necessarily just about rank. It isn't necessarily even about having status or power. It isn't necessarily characterised by great feats, rousing speeches or commanding legions of people.

Yes, it might require some of those things, some of the time. But it could also be about inspiring change. It could be about questioning things. It could be about understanding how things could be even better when organisations work together.

And it could be about empowering others to achieve the best possible results for those we serve.

And then I realised that, with the right tools and approach, I could do any of those things and that actually, to achieve more for all the veterans and families my charity works with, I should.

So, six months into my Fellowship, I have learnt a lot about myself.

I have learnt to identify - and own - the things I am good at. I have learnt, from my peers, my team and my seniors what I could improve on, and through the Clore Social programme, I have a plan to get better.

I have begun learning about the technical aspects of leadership; how to identify trends and understand their impact on organisations; how to communicate better and how to adapt my communication style. How to listen more and how to help others to find their own answers. It's a work in progress.

I have learnt about the type of leader I want to be - and am privileged to have worked with some amazing role models within our sector. Clore Social has allowed me to reach out to leaders both within and outside of the Service charity sector and to learn from their experiences.

So far, Clore Social has offered me a toolbox of leadership styles, skills and strategic planning models. I then need to carefully examine each item before deciding which I want and which to leave for someone else.

But most importantly, the programme has given me permission to think about the type of leader I want to be and how I can achieve better results for the community I serve. And I would suggest that all of us could, and maybe should, embrace that.

Clore Social Leadership has partnered with Cobeo and the Forces in Mind Trust to develop a new leadership development programme called ‘Clore6: Cobeso’ specifically for the Service charity sector. Are you an emerging leader in this sector, or do you work for an organisation that supports the welfare and needs of the Armed Forces? If so, make sure you apply!

The deadline is 20 July 2017, visit here for more information.

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