The Future Leaders Programme has allowed me to learn, develop and practice the extensive range of skills that are necessary to make a good leader. The latter takes part in a very safe environment so there is ample opportunity to make mistakes and learn the application that suits your skills best. The content has made me reflect on previous leaders that I’ve had and I’ve been able to pick out the best qualities they’ve had, consider the areas that needed improving and help incorporate that into the way that I want to lead.
The programme has given me huge confidence in my capabilities. The key underpinning of any great leader is to have a high degree of emotional intelligence, something I’ve worked very hard on developing, using course notes and wider materials, which have been made available.
Leadership is more difficult than ever in our current time of crisis. My team contains one staff member on maternity leave and the other has just returned from eight weeks on furlough. I’ve had to rely on everything I’ve learnt, not the least, emotional intelligence, to keep them both well informed and to keep the latter keen and motivated for her return to work. One aspect that has proved particularly fruitful is through coaching sessions with a fellow course attendee. Although I currently sit at manager level I can still play my role in wider leadership through my work and checking in with other members of the team, letting them know I’m there for them through the difficult times ahead.
COVID-19 has forced me to use each of the different leadership styles that we learnt about and best adapt them to the team that I work with. One aspect that has been so clear is that it is your approach to the team that should be adapted, and not theirs to yours.
Mark Hughes, who leads the course, is one of the best trainers I have encountered. He has developed a programme of learning that is constantly engaging and challenging. It has consistently provoked me to look at how I view things. Mark has an incredible ability to make the group, and each individual within the group, feel comfortable to reflect on sessions and challenge what has been said. Even with COVID-19 meaning that we couldn’t meet face-to-face, Mark has adapted incredibly well and made our Zoom sessions as interactive as possible.
We’ve heard from a vast range of inspiring speakers – a Director of Fundraising, a charity CEO, a corporate CEO, a music leader and academic and a fundraising recruiter – each with their own take on leadership and how it’s allowed their organisation to flourish. Each is grounded with theory from some of the best leaders and minds around the world.
My desire to be able to test myself as a Head or Director of Fundraising in the future has not changed and is something that I have not been shy of stating in the past. I strongly believe when that time comes I’ll be able to apply the excellent learnings from the Future Leaders Programme.
I feel very grateful that my employer have enabled me to go on the course. It’s very empowering and I’m fortunate to know they are willing to invest in their staff. Special thanks also goes to NFP for providing a bursary to help cover with course costs.
A WhatsApp group was recently set up and I’m certain it will help develop our relationships even further. On day one we set out ground rules (called our Trust Tree after Gavin & Stacey!) – one of those was about being honest and another that anything said in the room would be kept in the room, both of which helped create an incredible level of trust. On day two we revealed our ‘moment of truth’ that we would have as leaders and a bi product of this was the closeness and increased openness it brought to the group.
I think it’s safe to say that we’ll miss each other once the course has finished. Collectively there is such a range of experience in the different disciplines in fundraising, as well as different types of charitable organisation which will be key in supporting one another achieve our goals over the following years. I would have no hesitation reaching out to anyone in the group for personal or professional advice.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the Future Leaders Programme and highly recommend it for those looking to make the next step in their careers.