ACEVO Fellowships: the benefits of the Leadership Trust

All ACEVO Fellowship winners will receive a free place on a Leadership Trust programme worth up to £4,200. John Knight, CEO of LOROS, discusses what he gained from his experience with the Leadership Trust.

In August 2000 I was appointed chief executive of the Children’s Centre on the Isle of Man. The charity had been founded in 1868 and was a provider of various child related projects as well as contracted services for the Manx Government in children’s homes and family centres. At that time, it employed 54 staff and had an annual turnover of around £1m.

Coincidentally I was also offered a bursary by The Leadership Trust to attend a Leadership in Management programme and readily attended with a particular objective to better understand the differences between being a voluntary sector CEO and a corporate CEO.

The Leadership in Management (LM) programme was incredibly powerful. It exposed me to leaders from across all sectors, tested my confidence and leadership style, forced me to reflect upon my own leadership approaches and gave me problem solving strategies: models that were easily transferable to real life leadership.

Over the following 10 years, the Children’s Centre grew steadily, taking considered and managed steps: winning new contracts through competitive tender, growing voluntary income and launching a small number of social enterprises. During this journey all of the senior team attended an LM at the Trust. Others went on to do different programmes. In addition, aspiring leaders from deeper within the charity were supported to attend programmes at the Trust and they truly valued the positive exposure it gave them to high level learning and reflection.

The Children’s Centre, by this time, employed 220 staff and had grown its annual turnover to around £7.2m. It was a significant employer in the Isle of Man and held numerous valuable corporate partnerships, government contracts and a raft of wholly charitable initiatives.

The senior team was stable and had, through attending the Trust, developed a consistent leadership values base, a common problem solving approach,  a leadership language that was fully understood and a motivated ‘can do properly’ culture. Simple references to ‘grip self’ or ‘critical distance’ (among several others) enabled colleagues to support one another, to approach challenging situations and conversations with confidence and to access strategies that they’d previously utilised and had confidence in. In brief the united team approach and common leadership practice made the charity a compelling environment energised by positivity in a considered, confident way.

I remain grateful for the bursary opportunities that LTF gave to us over several years: to the consistency of approach and the impact this had on the children and families who indirectly gained even better support through excellent leadership delivery.

Nominations for ACEVO Fellowships close on 22 October. Nominate someone.

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