When we think of leaders we tend to look to national and celebrity leaders, the good and not so good. We are somehow drawn to their charisma, their at-ease style and comfort in their own skin. It is a bonus if they are leading for the greater good, and we all have great expectations of our leaders.
So when leaders ‘fail’ we are disappointed, we take it personally. Social media creates a world where we are only a tweet away from our leaders. When we discover that they too are human, we start to unpick all their faults. But leadership is not easy. There are endless books, articles, websites and experts on leadership, often citing it as a journey, with excellence always out of reach. Somehow this doesn’t sound so attractive but when we set leadership in the context of the social sector, it starts to have a greater appeal.
Goal – Change The World
Firstly there is an opportunity to really change the world for the better. It may be that you are the founder of a local lunch club to reduce isolation among older people, or run a small but national charity that cares about a little-known medical condition. You may spearhead the rights of carers or young people, or indeed both. The social sector leader needs to gather all the same characteristics of leadership as those in the business, statutory and faith sectors such as resilience, inter-personal skills, decisiveness, an ability to engage with many different people, to wear appropriate clothing (and know instinctively what is appropriate) while not forgetting good manners. The skills and experience of a leader are taken for granted, with little room for failure or shortcomings. The social sector leader has a job to do and is driven by passion and determination of the cause.
How We Support Leadership
So how does The Rank Foundation support, nurture and encourage the social sector leader. We work with many leaders, some known to the wider world and some quietly working away in their corner of the UK. We provide core funding, access to sharing good practice, opportunities to network, help with capacity building the organisation and participation in action learning sets. Our case studies illustrate the leadership journeys for those people who go the extra mile, or marathon. Those leaders we work with tell us that funding is important but the additional support listed above is critical to their success. Leadership certainly is a journey and The Rank Foundation cannot and should not walk all the way with the leader but we have our part to play, as a pebble in the pond, to create a greater impact on the social sector for decades to come.