The reality of all our contexts is the need to manage the ‘now’ and change what we do. Whilst there is ambition for Leeds as the Best City, the reality is that we need to move from a position of disconnection between organisational leaders, sectors and politicians.
We have a great ambition to lead together and can agree on the ‘what’ but there is work to do on agreeing ‘how’.
A big issue for us is the ‘voice of communities’ – what if communities were determining their future? How do we support individual leaders and leaders that can work as together as peers?
The Third sector is subject to the dilemmas of seeking short-term funding from multiple sources; having little money to invest in top class leadership development; and having a wide range of forms from large national organisations to small locally lead organisations.
What we know is that we need to work on understanding our context better together; what works in terms of leading for the whole; and how to make the most of our diverse leadership agendas.
Our questions are:
- What does ‘together’ look like?
- How do we lead together?
- How do we make the most of the talent, ideas of all the people in the city within a collective ambition/ purpose?
What we know about what works?
We identified a number of key features that were essential to leadership for the city.
Some were personal qualities such as the ability to listen and to connect with others, whether individuals or communities from the same or different sectors, with respect and empathy.
Others centred on beliefs such as everyone can be a leader and can cause change. Everyone can make a contribution to resolve or make a difference to issues of importance to communities and the city as a whole.
Looking forward to a changing context, some qualities were highlighted as being of particular value such as being able to facilitate connections as well as work across networks. Also the ability to ‘build out’ and relinquish power and the need for deep integrity. In terms of beliefs, there was felt to be a need to revisit what has traditionally been viewed as ‘liabilities’ in the city and view and promote as ‘assets’.
One area that was common to all, was that any leadership development we offer/support has to be based on and in service to a real piece of work in the city.
What are we going to do?
We explored 4 areas of work:
- How we utilise a common/ Leeds based project already underway and use this as the leadership project for a collective group of leaders from across sectors. We could do this in a locality/ neighbourhood or for the whole city.
- Develop a group of leaders using a local place based piece of change work, from inception to completion.
- Making the most of our potential as peers – starting with a breakfast forum where we can share challenges, ways of working the focus being on us as leaders learning about each other’s work, approach, and how we can better lead together.
- Designing any next steps we can take together – an umbrella group overseeing the whole programme of work, and including supporting the Leadership Conference for the city.