Leaving a legacy of leadership

Civil Society Leaders
Authors Samuel Kasumu (left) and Jonathan Eig sparked the conversation at the Civil Society Leaders Gathering

Caroline Gumble shares her takeaways from an inspirational meeting with other social impact sector leaders.

I was honoured to be invited to the inaugural Civil Society Leaders Gathering in London a few weeks ago. It was an inspiring evening that gave me a great deal to reflect on.

The discussions flowed from the two speakers: Jonathan Eig, author of The Life of Martin Luther King, and Samuel Kasumu, who talked about his book The Power of the Outsider: A journey of discovery.

The themes were transformational leadership and the role that anyone can play, even those who may consider themselves ‘outsiders’. The key takeaway was that everyone has strengths, talents and skills to contribute.

Streatham MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy reflected on leadership and public service, which resonated with me, and spoke about the power of civil society in serving communities across the country. She also said that social change happens when people stand together and collaborate.

Javed Khan OBE, former chief executive of children’s charity Barnardo’s, had a call for the leaders present, urging us to try and prepare for the unpredictable. That’s a challenging ask of anyone, but in the context of the voluntary sector and civil society being needed more than ever, a useful reminder that an organisation needs to maintain its resilience and develop its ‘cultural competence’ to anticipate the needs of the communities we serve.

Transformational leadership

The Diana Award’s chief executive, Tessy Ojo CBE, reminded us that achieving transformational leadership needs to outlive us – a shared vision with colleagues, with members and across the industry is the route to lasting and sustainable positive change.

Michael Adamson CBE, interim director of the Global Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, talked about emotional intelligence and how it is particularly important for the social impact sector, where we need to be able to understand the needs of those we serve.

There was a line at the end – ‘trust is an output of what you do’ – which could be part of our corporate plan. Our members are expected to behave ethically and professionally and to have our public interest remit in mind: building trust is at the heart of that.

Above all, these discussions have reinforced ideas that our members are an important part of civil society and often work alongside the public sector and voluntary organisations, playing their part in delivering for communities across the country.

It was also a wonderful opportunity to reflect on my role and appreciate the leadership that we can offer within civil society.

Caroline Gumble is chief executive of CIOB

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