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What makes a good leader?

As CEO of Essex Community Foundation, I work with philanthropists, that is people who give a range of their resources to help their local communities. Philanthropist is a term that we would use to describe their approach to giving, which is markedly different than making a one-off donation to charity. In our experience people don’t wake up one morning and say, ‘today I am going to be a philanthropist’, it happens through interest, engagement and compassion. I think there are many comparisons here to leadership, which invariably happens in a much more organic way rather than through a linear process.

The question of what makes a good leader - the ‘essential’ skills - is, of course, widely debated. It is clear however that the ability to lead effectively relies on a number of key skills, and that different leaders have very different characteristics and styles. Exactly what these are may take us some time to agree.

The Future Jobs Report, from the World Economic Forum has recently published its ‘must-have’ leadership skills list. What’s most interesting is the leadership evolution this list represents, and how a brilliant leader in 2015 – someone who was rated for their ability to listen and ensure quality was absolute - is now required to turn their attention to flexible thinking and emotional intelligence to be fit for the future and to lead in the years ahead.

This change should come as no great surprise, there is, in fact, no one right way to lead in all circumstances, and in my view one of the main characteristics of good leaders is their flexibility and ability to adapt to changing circumstances. The point is there are some key qualities that every good leader should possess, and learn to emphasise and call upon the right quality at the right time. Effective leaders periodically take stock of their personal strengths and shortcomings, understand how others perceive them, observe colleagues’ behaviours and respond to needs within their organisations and their teams – helping themselves, others and their organisations to grow and thrive.

If you’re looking to grow your leadership skills in the voluntary and community sector a new 12 month leadership programme is commencing February 2018 for 15 senior professionals working in the social sector. Personal diagnostics and coaching, group learning, bespoke development aligned to personal goals and individual leadership vision as well as the opportunity to become part of a learning network and participate in events to share your work and join placements/research trips in the social and public sector will give you the very best opportunity to develop your skills for the future.

Apply now until 18 December 2018.

For further information e-mail

Caroline Taylor

CEO Essex Community Foundation

6 October 2017