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Why investing in our future leaders is vital

This guest blog was written by David Orr, the Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation.

Investing in the talent of our future leaders is vital for growing our organisations. Nobody quite knows what the future will look like but housing associations will no doubt need leaders that are adept in a range of skills.

In the future it will not be enough for organisations to simply provide a service and then step back. It is going to be a much more engaged world where people will be asking questions and expecting answers quickly - our young leaders will therefore need to be strategic thinkers and have a vision for a future that they in their organisations will be trying to craft. They will also need to be technically savvy and digitally aware, to understand the power of social media, and the potential for talking to people that comes from having a whole new range of communication channels.

Having said that, an engagement with the future starts not with technology but with creative thinking. Housing Associations have a clear ambition - to deliver up to 120,000 new homes a year, to be making an offer to people right across all different parts of the housing market – across different geographies and tenures. If we are to end the housing crisis, we need to be in a position to think imaginatively and creatively and be prepared to take some risks. Existing leaders have got where they are by being bold, by putting themselves forward and taking risks. Now we need to create a nurturing environment that makes it essential that young talented people will want to work in our business and want to be creative and bring their ideas to how we create that future.

As a chief executive, leader or a board in any organisation the ability to encourage people to question and challenge you is, at root, a statement of confidence in yourself. If you as a leader are committed to the future you are trying to create then you will want people to be challenging you and asking awkward questions because that's the best way to test your own thinking as well as testing theirs. It should not be an optional extra to be investing in talent - our future depends on housing associations being able to attract, retain and develop talented people.

To do this requires investment in those people. The National Housing Federation’s Young Leaders Experience on 19-20 September, provides a way for housing associations to invest in talent management and develop the skills they need in their future cohort of leaders. The heart of leadership is ultimately about creating and articulating a vision of the future that is better than the present. Young people are just as capable at doing that. They just need confidence and a bit of coaching to get them there.

Register your place for the Young Leaders Experience by visiting here and use the priority code YLE0917CL. Group discounts are also available – book 6 places and get the 7th free. Call 020 7067 1066 or email events@housing.org.uk to find out more.

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