The Leadership Centre, a leadership development organisation, recently moved into CAN Mezzanine, Old Street. We sat down with Project Officer Benjamin Powell, to discuss the ‘real change’ that is has made by addressing complex, multifaceted issues.
The Leadership Centre designs and delivers bespoke, place-based leadership development interventions, and cohort-based leadership development programmes to help leaders tackle multifaceted, multi-organisational, place-based problems where there’s no blueprint and no obvious way forward. These are either cross-sector, or profession-specific and always with a citizen focus. The cohort-based programmes are usually peer-based, and the content focus is co-designed with participants, tailoring it to their specific leadership challenges. The organisation also designs countrywide initiatives in collaboration with national government, such as Total Place, which explored a whole-place approach, breaking down barriers between public services for the benefit of communities.
Benjamin says, “Our place-based work involves working in specific localities, on “systemic” issues, for example, FGM or food poverty – tackling these involves engaging with a whole wider system, rather than just one small part of it. We nurture individuals and organisations to work in a more systemic way, working with citizens and partners across areas like local government, health and the third sector. Organisational pressures, or entrenched ways of working, often hinder progress, so we help people to work across boundaries, and to introduce new ways of thinking, behaving and being. How these issues pan out on the ground varies across the country – and sometimes even across the same place – so we tailor the approach in each locality.”
What are the highlights of your work?
“It’s rewarding when the place-based projects get real traction, and when we see the real impact that it has on people’s lives. For example, one of our Local Vision projects involved the Health and Wellbeing Board - they were keen to explore more systemic ways of working to join up their approaches to dealing with local public health issues. To start, they focused in on the local alcohol strategy, seeking to develop new ways of working with communities and exploring support and treatment options. Through the work, they reduced the incidents of A&E attendance to alcohol abuse, were able to create a pooled commissioning budget locally, as well as coming to a new understanding of how they need to work together in the future.
“With our cohort-based work, we have participants who have completed a development programme and really used what they have learned to create and sustain change in public service and secure promotions or alternative roles, which is really encouraging.
"We have created plenty of resources, like a book called The Art of Change Making, to bring together and sharing the tools, approaches and skills we use in our work. Following on from the book, over the past two years, my colleagues and I have been working on an interactive website to showcase the resource and how the various approaches are connected and can be used to complement each other.”
Why has Leadership Centre decided to move to CAN?
“We had many possible alternatives in central London, but we were really impressed by the creative nature of CAN Mezzanine and its mix of organisations, and we welcome the opportunity to collaborate with others. We’re always around for a cup of coffee to talk over any ideas for inventive new collaborations!”