ILP Blog Day 1

29 May 2014 By Guest Blog

Day 1 of the Leadership Ignite program has been full of insights for me to take away and apply to my own work.

Sarah Davies, CEO of Reach, discussed the importance of leadership as the mechanism by which we build communities. That mechanism has 2 aspects- having the vision to create, maintain, change things and then; how to turn vision into reality by mobilising resources. She commented on the need for context- what makes a good leader in one context may not be a good leader in another context – time and place are crucial to fulfilling your leadership potential.  For Sarah, leadership is about creating yourself as an active agent and then becoming an agent in community change. That resonated very strongly with me, and her lessons were particularly relevant.

Sarah had a number of lessons from her own leadership journey:

1.       The value of transformative feedback, and the need for a leader to understand what parts of their personality or style might get in the way of achieving their vision, a genuine understanding of the strengths and weaknesses.

2.       A need to discern between leaders that are labelled as such by society and real leaders who may not be at the front, but may be leading from the back.

3.       Not to get caught up in their values and passion so they become they cause – this can put pressure on those who surround the individual, and can also result in limited irrational thinking, hasty decisions making based on vision and emotion

4.       Use your moral compass to guide your decisions, but don’t assume that others have the same values as you in their leadership or decision making.

Sarah’s presentation was the first of many inspiring interactions with leaders from a variety of backgrounds, challenging us to know ourselves, clarify our vision, be resilient, reflective, adaptive, and inclusive and focus on the issues, rather than personalities as we move our vision forward. The insights I have taken from her presentation will stay with me as I move through my own leadership journey, and it is nice to know that those who have emerged from the crucible went through much the same that you have experienced while in it.

Dr Jackie King is the Director of JDK Research, a research and evaluation consultancy, and CEO of Project Deborah (, a communally based program aimed at advancing women’s interests by providing access to professional development that will allow them to fulfil their own ambition.