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New research reveals abundance of untapped potential for leadership development

A new Clore Social Leadership research report reveals an abundance of untapped potential for leadership development in the social sector.

Today we are delighted to announce the findings of Talking Leadership: a report of qualitative research into leadership development in the social sector’, our latest research exploring what the future holds for leadership development in the social sector.

The study, authored by Matthew Davies and Miranda Lewis of m2 consultants with Chris Gurney from Clore Social Leadership, sets out findings from qualitative research into leadership development in the social sector conducted with over 50 CEOs and senior leaders from charities and other organisations.

The report points to widespread agreement that effective leadership development is essential for creating the capabilities and relationships needed to address the complex social challenges facing the sector.

The interviews highlighted a firm belief that leadership development should be available to everyone – not just ‘elites’.

The interviews highlighted a firm belief that leadership development should be available to everyone – not just ‘elites’. The findings also echo those of our series of research reports on leadership published in 2016: the three principal barriers to leadership development are cost, time and confusion.

This report shows that there is still a great deal of uncertainty about the meaning of leadership and leadership development; and the benefits and value of leadership development are poorly understood and articulated. Inconsistent and infrequent dialogue about leadership development in organisations make it difficult for individuals to understand their needs, what opportunities exist, or how to access them.

There is also concern that with operating budgets under severe strain, there is little time for leadership development, which is largely perceived to be expensive. Accessing a potentially bewildering range of programmes, especially for organisations outside major urban areas, is also particularly challenging.

The report revealed a striking insight: there is an abundance of untapped potential for leadership development within the sector.

Importantly, the report revealed a striking insight: there is an abundance of untapped potential for leadership development within the sector. Senior sector leaders talked about a desire to create opportunities to learn from others and a willingness to share expertise with others. There is a clear interest and capacity for mentoring, shadowing and secondments across the sector and many leaders identified day-to-day activities and interactions that present unrealised opportunities for dialogue, learning and action on leadership.

Commenting on the report findings, Shaks Ghosh, Clore Social CEO said:

‘The message of abundance, for a sector that is so used to thinking about leadership development in the context of scarcity and resource constraints, presents an exciting opportunity for us as a sector to take a creative and innovative approach to supporting leadership development.’

In response to the research findings, Clore Social Leadership will be developing a new ‘innovation lab’ to design and test different solutions for supporting leadership development across the sector, identifying ways to harness the untapped potential identified through this report and working in partnership with the sector to help build a generation of inspirational social leaders for the future.

We would like to express special thanks to the 58 social sector leaders interviewed who have generously made time to talk about leadership development and help shape ideas for the future.

Many thanks to the Barrow Cadbury Trust for generously supporting this research.

To find out more, download the report here.

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