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Leaders as people, people as leaders

The Leader by Roger McGough

I wanna be the leader I wanna be the leader Can I be the leader? Can I? I can? Promise? Promise? Yippee I'm the leader I'm the leader OK what shall we do?


Who are the people we need to take on the complex challenges of the world, right now?

We don’t have the answers but we do have some thoughts on the subject and we do believe with all our might that:

✨ they’re not a lot of the people that led us here! Most of the conventional leaders of our time are not fit for the job of creating the future, let alone dealing with the present.

all people, whether they consider themselves leaders or not, could benefit from a bit more heart at work!

Some persistent ideas about leaders and leadership that we do not support:
  • Leaders are only people with some form of hierarchical position, designated ‘leader’ - usually in their job title - often people with money or power, or both.

  • Great leaders are the ones who can inspire others with their vision, galvanising people to align with their views and act. The more followers, the greater the leader. Kudos is given to their brilliance and charisma.

  • In a complex world leaders need to find simple solutions, to give 'their' people clear direction & focus.

  • Leadership development happens when people hear thought-provoking content from experts in their field so it's all about growing the knowledge and intellect of a leader.

  • We are just waiting for the leaders of the world to step up and make the changes needed in the world.

Some of the things we do believe about emerging leadership:

As two women of mixed heritage, who run our own business and lead in our field of practice alongside other leaders in organisations, when we look around the world for inspiration there’s a bias for women (and those defying gender and other social & systemic boundaries) who are being leaders in less conventional ways.

In addition to some of the people who are achieving great things on the international stage, women especially are embracing and embodying a new identity as leaders, often in much more intimate communities that we see as no less significant.

In our own team we have a lovely colleague, Sarah, who is doing amazing things in a very unassuming way, by working with one young person at a time as a mentor. She also organises and heads a charity cycling event every year that raises hundreds of thousands of pounds for a small foundation aimed at helping young people who need support because of social and economic inequalities. She's a trustee of the locally owned public swimming pool near where she lives and (in her spare time ;o) she also does exceptional work with our clients. We love how she shows up! She’s a one woman force for good and yet she would probably never describe herself as a leader.

Pip Wilcox - leader of Middle Years Monday

When we think of someone who leads in a way that captures all we believe it can be to gather people into the warmth and deep connection of community and hold them all there gently, with love, in all their complexity and sometimes messiness, Pip Wilcox immediately spring to mind.

We love everything about how Pip brings herself to guiding the Middle Years Monday community: initiating it, fully participating in it by standing alongside the group as a woman in her middle years herself (with all that entails), and also undeniably shaping and leading it for the rest of the members.

We also love that she is doing this all virtually in a world that, even post-pandemic, seems to suggest that deep and meaningful relational work and connection can’t truly be achieved online. Something we absolutely know not to be true from our own community conversations and something MYM belies powerfully!

And finally, a woman who leads her organisation in the spirit of Jacinda Adern, with oodles of evident compassion and empathy but also not afraid to face into the hard realities of life and death, we admire Anne Chalmers, CEO of Child Bereavement UK

These three women are just a tiny sample of the people amongst our own circles, who we see stepping up to lead in a different way .

What's happening in the wider world of alternative voices and faces for leadership now is impressive. People are breaking long-established moulds and choosing a different way to lead the way.

This gives us hope that even on those days when we look out into the world and wonder how we can ever make a difference in the face of powerful tides that seem to be blocking or turning back social progress for people on so many fronts; even when overwhelm and/or apathy seem to disable and disempower people who want to do things differently in workplaces and the world at large; even when our planet is about to combust with the damage and neglect we’ve inflicted on it;

even when we don’t know how to keep doing what needs to be done or even know what needs to be done in the first place, we never (NEVER) doubt that if there is change to be made, collectivism, connection, collaboration are at the core of the answers.

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