Chris Stephens from national charity, The Children’s Society1 recently gave a candid talk at our charity networking event around the theme of leadership, which got us thinking and talking about what does good leadership look like?
Chris began her talk by discussing a little about what good leadership means today and what it historically represented in the 1970s – a time of ‘command and control’ leadership theory, set in a work context of very new employment legislation including the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 and the Equal Pay Act of 1970 – harking back to a very different era and style of leadership.
Chris generously shared the journey of The Children’s Society’s organisation wide, cultural leadership change programme, resulting in the current model and the launch of “Being a Great Manager”. Led by the CEO, this leadership programme, is being rolled out across the organisation and incorporates various competencies including coaching skills, how to have difficult conversations, mindfulness as well as 3600 feedback and mentoring.
Values of a modern leader…
Whilst there is much debate about what makes a good leader, there seems to be a general consensus that good modern leaders adopt a coaching approach that includes some of the following values. Of course it does depend also on the circumstances – in certain situations a procedural command and control style of leadership is more appropriate, for instance in situations involving health and safety, but more creative leadership will generally adopt some of the following values and lead to an empowered team working together for the common good of the organisation and all its beneficiaries and stakeholders:
- values driven work
- dignity at work
What is your number one tip for leadership?
Chris suggested that learning how to listen and really listen and demonstrate that you’re listening by feeding back to your audience (don’t think about what you’re going to say next, but focus your attention exclusively on the person speaking!) is critical for good leadership. Again by listening, you’re demonstrating empathy and understanding, particularly when having a difficult conversation.
How do you put good leadership into practice?
Top tips included mentoring, continually reflecting back, giving constructive feedback and keeping up networks/using other people as a sounding board to gain feedback. In difficult situations, for example when making redundancies, good leadership should be about supporting those affected practically, perhaps with some career transitioning coaching, along with an empathetic attitude. The intention should always be to treat people well and of significant importance, the senior team must ‘walk the talk’ and lead from the front.
18 Things Mentally Strong People Do2
A straw poll taken at the event revealed the leadership qualities that resonated most with our audience were mentoring, listening, and absolutely leading by example.
Tell us your thoughts on inspiring leaders and the traits you most admire
We’d love to hear which traits you think inspirational leaders should have! If you’re interested in learning more about developing your leadership potential, organisations such as the Institute of Leadership and Management and Common Purpose provide various workshops and courses at all stages of your career.
The Children’s Society helps change children’s stories, working towards a country where all children are free from disadvantage. Every year, it works directly with more and more of the most disadvantaged children, through its extensive network of frontline services, supported by an army of volunteers. Together, it tackles child poverty and neglect head on, from helping families trapped in debt, child runaways and young carers, to stopping child sexual exploitation. www.childrenssociety.org.uk
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