As we come to the end of the year, changemakers are feeling exhausted up and down the country. It’s not easy being a community business leader but it is worth it.
Two weeks ago, Wavelength brought together 70 leaders from corporates, community businesses, social enterprises, charities and the public sector to learn from each other. Power to Change was a proud sponsor and we brought with us delegates from community businesses across England who had graduated from our leadership programme. Here are the combined reflections of two of them, Elaine McGinty, CEO of Phoenix Cultural Centre/Fiery Bird and Mandi Creswell, Chief Officer at Meadow Well Connected.
A breathtaking two days saw them get up close and personal with the CEO of the Guardian, the former boss of England’s prisons and the Innovation Director of Lego.
Here are their top ten tips from the conference for other community business leaders:
1. Tell an authentic story – ‘warts and all’ is more inspiring
Stories need jeopardy. Through sharing your struggles as well as successes, your story becomes that bit more compelling.
2. Don’t forget why are you doing it
Take the time to remind yourself why you started this journey. Lego took the brave decision to strip everything back to what belief started them off in the first place.
3. Don’t allow drive and ambition to be suppressed by your environment and those around you. If it were easy someone would have already done it.
When you know what you are doing has meaning and purpose, it helps you foster resilience often seen by outsiders as a foolish endeavour. Remember many changemakers we admire today weren’t universally accepted at their time but they kept going.
4. Daydreaming is necessary for vision and creativity. Protect your daily thinking time. (See point 10).
5. It is ok to doubt yourself. ‘Imposter syndrome’ is a healthy thing, because you definitely will doubt yourself and without self-reflection, it will be hard to grow a team that can make the dream happen
6. Pursuit of excellence can come by investing in challenging underperformance. Do it straight away, don’t let it fester.
7. Adaptive leadership can yield great results. Lead from the front, middle and back – reflect on the skills in the organisation. If it is set up for social good the ego has to take a back seat to let others do their stuff.
8. It can be lonely at the top so find someone, such as a coach or mentor, to help support you when you feel isolated
9. Consider the impact of your work on your personal relationships – make time for family and friends
10. Perhaps most of all, go for a walk and get some sleep! Take time to breathe.
“There was so much to take in from this event, lots of great ideas, compelling and interesting people, a sense that people wanted to work together and were motivated to make a significant difference to the world. Seeing a collection of people who have shared vision for social good is humbling and reassuring in equal measure. I am more hopeful for the future and galvanised in my desire to improve my own organisation through effective impactful leadership.” – Mandi Creswell
“The conference left me with an understanding, that large or small, corporate or social, we are part of the same communities, the same human beings with complex needs, needing to work realistically together for local and global progression. That the needs the social sector are meeting makes them a valuable barometer indicating change in our workplaces and society. Corporate Social Responsibility has been a misunderstood concept for many years and both sides of the relationship recognised that.” – Elaine McGinty