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What is good leadership?

Joining Clore Social Leadership as the Director of Programmes and Leadership Innovation has given me the enviable role of meeting the social sector’s most ambitious and engaging leaders. Never more apparent than with the interviews for our 2017 cohort where they were asked ‘What is good leadership?’

This is one of the toughest questions to answer, not only because one search of that question presents 48,700,000 results on Google, so there’s no ‘right’ answer.

It is tough because we can all instinctively recall someone who we feel embodies good leadership and more often the opposite too, but distilling leadership can all too quickly become messy. Leadership is about people and they are complex, so it’s no surprise the topic can become full of confusing juxtapositions.

I’ve joined Clore Social Leadership at an exciting time where we want to make leadership development accessible for all in the social sector. We want to open up the conversation about social sector leadership so we have chosen to share our new Social Leaders’ Capability Framework. Developed using our experience of developing social sector leaders over the past eight years, and using our collective foresight to highlight the capabilities we believe social sector leaders need to face the complex challenges and opportunities over the coming weeks, months and years.

Our new cohort of 2017 Fellows will be the first to embody the mindset and behaviours exhibited in this Framework. They will help us critique it to ensure it stays relevant for the sector, and we hope that you’ll join us too, to help us continue to build a culture of good leadership.

Social Leaders' Capabilities Framework

So who should use this Capabilities Framework? My answer would be everyone because leadership is a mindset, a set of behaviours. A toolkit of skills and techniques. It can be developed in everyone and we should actively practice it every single day.

I believe this is leadership at it’s simplest. A demystified description of something that Joseph Rost, Professor of Leadership Studies at the University of San Diego found to have been defined in about 200 different ways over the past 75 years, detailed in his book ‘Leadership for the 21st Century’.

I agree with Barbara Kellerman that a leadership development ‘industry’ will only become an improved industry and deliver good or even great leadership to our communities, organisations and across the globe when it is ‘inclusive rather than exclusive’.

So whether you have leadership in your title or not, take a look at our Capabilities Framework. Share your views with us and help build a culture of great leadership in our sector where everyone has the opportunity to understand their strengths, and know what is required of them as social leaders.

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