New Social Leaders

New Social Leaders – A unique leadership development opportunity and growing movement for change

5 January 2021 · Categories: Events, Innovators Learn

A Covid Challenge

As the pandemic unfolded our ‘social sector leaders’ (and by that we mean those managing and leading others in charities, public service, community associations and enterprises etc.) quickly found their normal tools for connecting, reflecting and learning packed away as they faced a range of new and unfamiliar challenges.  It became clear to us that people needed new routes to learning that would help them build connections with peers who shared a passion for great leadership and social justice in our strange new world. It was in this moment of uncertainty that the idea of New Social Leaders was born – an innovative new leadership learning opportunity and growing movement for change.

I was challenged to reflect on my own style as a leader and to consider what I need to do to adapt to the new environment in which we operate. There has never been a more important time to consider our responsibility as agents of change.

Sue Sharples – New Social Leaders delegate and Director at U-nite Group

Testing the approach

A pilot cohort of 10 wonderful yet previously unconnected people from various social sector backgrounds, all at different points in their leadership journeys – some just starting out, others a few years in and seeking to refresh and challenge themselves – came together in June 2020 to help co-produce and test our New Social Leaders learning approach which aims to help people:

  1. Connect – to develop relationships with likeminded New Social Leaders and benefit from brokered connections with established leaders in the social sector.
  2. Learn – to build new knowledge, techniques and motivation to work collaboratively with others, support local systems change, and improve outcomes for people and communities.
  3. Grow – to develop new techniques, ideas and tools to effectively lead and manage others with confidence throughout the pandemic and beyond.

You can read about the “how” we’ve been making that happen in more detail here

You will have the opportunity to learn from experienced and imaginative peers, who will test your perceptions and inspire your imagination. You will be presented with theoretical frameworks and practical examples based on the work of some of the UK’s best social leaders, which will in turn shape your capacity to be a more effective and transformational leader.

Sue Sharples – New Social Leaders delegate and Director at U-nite Group

A few “cohorts” of New Social Leaders later…

Fast forward 9 months and the most recent cohort has just finished.  They, like the others, have been exploring a range of leadership topics carefully curated in thematic learning resources, coming together 4 times over 2 months for facilitated learning sessions in small (around 10 people) online groups. These New Social Leaders have built connections by sharing their collective experiences, perspectives and knowledge with each other.  This learning is known as “the wisdom of New Social Leaders” and is circulated after each session and collated in an overall document at the end of the four sessions.

There were excellent resources prepared and provided, the “wisdom” collated is going to be of great value as were the networking opportunities and the resulting connections between like minds.

Tom Watkins – New Social Leaders delegate and Volunteering Development Manager at Communities 1st

As more people move through the experience, we’re also building the wider movement of New Social Leaders. At the moment, each cohort has its own WhatsApp group to keep in touch following the New Social Leaders sessions and there are reunion sessions booked in throughout 2021 each exploring a different leadership theme alongside guest speakers. One group has also set up its own peer learning group and we hope to develop this concept even further with the input of our other New Social Leaders.

Hearing directly from some of the best leaders in the UK human service world has given me many new ideas to take forward in my own efforts to transform approaches within learning disability services.  I would highly recommend this unique way of learning.

Sue Sharples – New Social Leaders delegate and Director at U-nite Group

Be part of New Social Leaders

We’re currently recruiting for our next set of New Social Leaders. We’ve set the price to be affordable to make sure it’s as inclusive as possible to a diverse range of participants.

It did what is said on the tin – it gave people who can’t access leadership training due to the high cost, the tools and space to reflect on the meaning of leadership and how it is applied in a real context, our work environments.

Mark Mulqueen – New Social Leaders delegate and Director of Blue Stone Consortium, Tyneside

The immediate future is going to be uniquely challenging for all of us and we need collaborative leadership in the social sector now more than ever!  We therefore call upon those who believe the same and who want to be stronger, more effective, passionate and connected leaders to join our movement and grow through these tough times together.

To take the time for reflection and learning with new people with different and shared experiences is a great opportunity for anyone wanting to take the time to think about themselves as a leader.

Caroline Evans – New Social Leaders delegate and Youth Work Manager at NE Youth

Find out more or get in touch: 

I recently became a manager and found this course invaluable. [The] carefully created reading list and the mix of people, who brought a diversity of experiences and approaches meant I learnt a lot over the sessions. I’d recommend the programme to anyone looking to develop their leadership.

Harry Johnson – New Social Leaders delegate and Project Manager at Voluntary Action Orkney

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