Some readers may be aware that as well as being Chairman of The Aire Rivers Trust, I am also a specialist in organisational/personal development and leadership (that’s what earned me money for 30 years and what still contributes to the bank account). So I read this article from Harvard Business Review with increasing recognition of its relevance in the charity sector, including Rivers Trusts. It’s ostensibly about leadership in professional services firms, typical in the accountancy, legal and other consulting fields. So what’s the relevance to our areas of interest?
Well, I submit that in many ways we operate on the same basis as those organisations. I have been a trustee of 3 charities and recognise that they are typically reliant on volunteers, sometimes at both grassroots and board level, those volunteers do what they do because they like it, we have to motivate them through their intrinsic drivers not those of the trust, may senior volunteers bring specialist skills upon which the trust comes to rely, we cannot rely on traditional hierarchical power structures, we quite often have a few highly opinionated individuals as part of the team, we often have people who are not willing to be led nor do they want to lead (they just want to get on with what they are doing)… To quote the article
leadership is a collective, not an individual, endeavor, created through interactions among powerful peers.
So how do we lead in such an environment? That is where the article rang so many bells. Their prescription seems quite a good fit for us. I have quoted it below, and you will see the need for a little ‘translation’