Charity CEOs call for more vulnerable leadership

Charity CEOs have called for leaders in the sector to adopt a more 'vulnerable' and 'authentic' style of leadership.

Speaking at the Charity Times Annual Leadership Conference yesterday, leaders from across the sector united in the view that leading a charity requires more honesty and transparency about difficult issues, such as mental health and diversity.

"Leadership is about authenticity and vulnerability," said Poppy Jaman, CEO of the City Mental Health Alliance in a chat with Charity Times editor, Lauren Weymouth.

The pair spoke about the charity sector and its own issues with mental health. Jaman noted that as charity sector CEOs, it can be difficult to let others know you need help, but help-seeking behaviour is a skill in itself.

She also said “the charity sector is behind the curve on mental health first aid,” because it is so focused on looking outwards that it can take time to look in on itself and mental health issues that may come along with roles within it.

Although Covid-19 put mental health on the agenda, there is still a way to go, she said.

On the subject of personal growth, Rachael Jones, CEO of One Knowsley told delegates: “Sometimes your best learning comes from when you feel tested on your own abilities". She added that imposter syndrome "isn’t a weakness; it can be harnessed for growth".

Normandie Wragg, CEO of Nugent echoed her statements, adding that “leadership comes over a period of time when you reflect and apply change.

“People feel the human pieces you bring to leadership. That’s what resonates.”

Held at the Hilton Waldorf, London, the Charity Times Annual Leadership Conference hosted a number of charity sector leaders, with speakers discussing topics ranging from digital fundraising and wellbeing to corporate partnerships and charity investments.

Case study sessions were among the highlights of the day, with Barnardo’s corporate partnerships manager, Martin Howard, explaining how the charity built long-term corporate partnerships and Claire Marie-Mason of the RNLI talking through the company’s approach to media storms.

If you weren’t able to attend, a full conference-write up will be included in the next issue of Charity Times magazine.

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