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Seek to understand, think, and then respond

Blog by 2019 Cobseo Emerging Leader Fellow, Katherine Lawrence, Head of Operations at the SCiP Alliance

The Cobseo Emerging Leader programme gave me so much more than I expected. When I plucked up the confidence to submit my application in the hope of expanding my narrow network in the military charity sector, I had no idea how transformative it would be, not only professionally but also personally. I felt welcomed, supported and part of something special and I would advise anyone else considering or starting on this journey to embrace it with openness, curiosity and a willingness to be vulnerable.

With a background in education, I’m used to supporting young people to know themselves, to identify the paths to their goals and to have the confidence to go for it; until now I hadn’t thought how to apply these lessons to myself. The programme provided time to reflect and a safe space to take on challenges and step out of my comfort zone, learning both with and from my fellow participants.

The programme provided time to reflect and a safe space to take on challenges and step out of my comfort zone.

Some elements of the programme were familiar to me but previously hadn’t deeply touched me; now they were delivered with a thoroughness that was transformative. There were some real ‘oh dear!’ moments as I realised things about myself and my way of interacting that I’d never let myself look at before.

The programme didn’t just make me face these, it gave me tools, motivation and peer accountability which enabled me to change habits of a lifetime. One powerful aspect of the programme was the training in identifying the type of response needed in a situation; I learnt to think about what sort of person I would like to be in an interaction and have been trying, with various degrees of success, to act as that person rather than in my default mode.

I have developed my own leadership identity; I feel more comfortable leading with conviction and am buoyed by a clarity of purpose I have never felt before, confident to take action, take responsibility and handle difficult situations head on.

I feel more comfortable leading with conviction and am buoyed by a clarity of purpose I have never felt before.

So, to sum up, I certainly did gain those contacts I had hoped for but so much more; true friends and deep understanding of the context they work in. I have a better understanding of not only my own sector but the wider social sector. I am really excited to be part of the new Clore Social South Central chapter – an opportunity to feel again that challenge, reflection and exhilaration I enjoyed on the Cobseo Emerging Leader programme.

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