3 ways to kickstart your leadership journey

3 ways to kickstart your leadership journey

The Centre has been developing leadership skills in Cumbria for ten years and has formed a deep understanding of what it takes to grow as a leader. One of our most successful programmes has been Leader2Leader, in which leaders of all kinds come together to co-create la bespoke learning experience. The 2021 programme is about to get under way and ahead of that we’ve looked back at the lessons from last year’s participants and what was most useful in a accelerating their leadership journeys.

1. Take time to establish your leadership goals

Leadership training covers a vast spectrum of activities; It’s an academic discipline with leading business schools offering degrees and courses. There are bookshelves full of research papers and self-help guides. While this is great for the dissemination of knowledge it also means it is very easy to get lost.

Everyone is different and one useful tactic is to stop looking for a ready-made solution and instead to start discussing what you really need.

One of the things about being leaders or managers is that you are so busy in your day-to-day work that you don’t often get time to step back and have a look at how you lead other or who you interact with people at work or outside of work.

Inspector Matt Pearman, Cumbria Police

2. Take the organisational blinkers off

There’s a natural tendency for managers to focus on strategies that work in their particular sector and organisation. But that can be a trap and limit the development of skills. Forcing yourself to see leadership challenges through the eyes of people from different environments is a great way of sharpening your understanding of the range of leadership strategies and building confidence in your own approach.

Amber Sullivan is manager of the Whittington Cat pub in Whitehaven. As the youngest member of the 2020 cohort she was nervous about the seniority of others in the group and the size of their organisations, but this turned into an enormous advantage.

Each person’s knowledge of leadership was different, which just shows how many dimensions there are to leadership. And to be a good leader you need elements of every single one.

Amber Sullivan, manager Whittington Cat, Whitehaven

Everyone works in different environments and you become very focused on what’s important as a leader within your own specific environment organisation. Having the opportunity to speak to other people is a reminder of what’s important in leadership more generally.

Inspector Matt Pearlman, Cumbria Police

3. Open up about the realities of leadership

Leaders are supposed to know what to do, right? They’re the ones with the answers not the questions. That might be the stereotype but the reality is that all leaders, from great historical figures down to every workplace manager, suffer at times from confusion over objectives and tactics and general uncertainty over the right thing to do. That’s just the nature of things and one of the best ways of dealing with this is to find a space in which it is safe to admit such human frailties and explore coping strategies.

What I found really valuable was sharing the experiences with other people from different organisations and different sectors… And whilst the different experiences and different sectors are completely different, While other sectors are very different there are still some learnings for me to take back to my organisation.

Hayley McKay, Hospice at Home

These are just some of the approaches used in the Centre’s Leader2Leader programme. If you’d like to know more then get in touch. For more on what participants get from the programme watch our full interviews below.