Working Families is a charity that helps children, working parents, carers and their employers find a better balance between responsibilities at home and work. It has a very significant profile relative to its size and financial position, largely achieved by the loyalty and commitment of its staff, with effective support from the trustees. Having strengthened its Board and reviewed its strategic direction, Working Families was poised to expand the range and scale of its operations. However it was felt that the charity’s staff first needed to improve their planning, decision making and leadership skills to ensure that the new plans could implemented successfully.
We were asked by Working Families to run a two-day leadership workshop for their entire team of 24 staff. In the workshop we led discussions around the concepts of leadership, planning and decision making as applied to Working Families circumstances and ran a number of practical exercises which reinforced the lessons learned form the discussions.
Having assimilated the techniques involved in the ACE (ability, clarity, environment) approach to leadership, and the process for campaign planning and Effects-based Decision making, the group applied what they had learned to a number of live issues that Working Families need to address in order to make the new strategic plan work. The implications and decisions arising from this analysis at the workshop have since been developed further as an integral part of the plan’s implementation.
I was looking for a highly practical and engaging style of leadership development as my team had made it clear they were not interested in a theoretical approach. They regarded two days out of the office as a big investment on their part and would only commit if they could get some good ideas and action plans to help them in their day-to-day work. Although I personally had every confidence in their ability to deliver what we needed, the acid test would be the reaction of my team. This turned out to be extremely positive: they learned a great deal, had a lot of fun, worked together very effectively as an aligned team and came away from the workshop with a host of new ideas and approaches to dealing with the challenges that we face.
Unusually, in my experience, the techniques introduced at the workshop have continued to be applied in the office, which has led to shorter, more effective meetings and a much clearer set of action plans being developed and implemented. A common catch phrase now heard in the office is ‘Let’s just ACE that’. I really do feel that we have made a major step forward in the way we work and operate.”
Sarah Jackson, Chief Executive, Working Families