At a recent Clore Social CEO Masterclass, Julia Unwin gave us a sneak preview of her report into Civil Society and challenged us to rethink our social leadership model.
Julia painted a dark picture: social security in crisis, economic restructuring, challenges to managerialism and blurring boundaries between sectors, increasing pressure on places from localism and social fragmentation. We face a growing fear of polarisation of generations, both economic and cultural, environmental pressures, global volatility and the increase in nationalism, rising numbers of displaced people and geopolitical strife. Most significant, as Julia states, is the shift in focus from We to Me.
Cripes, that’s rather full on. In response, we know that our task as social leaders is to maintain and strengthen Civil Society by upskilling ourselves to navigate the next decade.
Our sector has shifted, professionalised and with it has come a reliance on structure, staff, institutions and funding. Whilst austerity might be “over” according to the powers that be, we know that the heady days of government largess from the noughties are not returning. Many organisations that were reliant on largess are already accelerating towards oblivion. Many others plough on from funded project to project, jumping through funder shaped hoops which might not run true to their own organisational mission.
So what resource do we have to continue our vital role in civil society? We have the resource that our sector has always relied on: people. People who never fail to surprise us by what they can achieve.