Leadership: Leading the field?

Next time you glance at the Amazon website or head into a bookshop, take time to browse through the library of titles dedicated to management and leadership. Every other day, it seems, someone, somewhere publishes yet another tome on leading effectively or mastering the art of management. And if those authors aren't hidden away writing their latest volumes, or out promoting them, they can usually be found on the conference circuit, waxing lyrical about concepts such as 'harnessing internal talent' and 'intrinsic motivation'.

The private sector has been eagerly lapping up this advice for donkey's years, but the voluntary sector has only recently started taking the issue of leadership seriously. As Mike Hudson explains in our opinion column on page four, it was only a couple of decades ago that the most senior employee in a charity would take the title of general secretary.

Back then, few voluntary organisations recognised the difference between governance and management. Indeed, some people railed against using the term 'management' altogether. It was too corporate, too private sector.

Of course, times have changed. Today, many charities operate in the same way as businesses. General secretaries have been replaced by chief executives and chairs of boards of trustees. They are people who, far from shunning the term 'management', actively embrace it. They're keen to develop their staff and their volunteers, and to lead their organisations as best they can.

Despite this shift, the voluntary sector isn't completely free of leadership problems. As Indira Das-Gupta reveals in her interview with Rachel Whale, founder of the networking forum Third Sector Women, there remains a disparity between the number of male and female chief executives (see page nine). The problem is even more acute for leaders from ethnic minorities. As our regular column The numbers game (page five) shows, only 6.1 per cent of managers in the sector come from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Those interested in combating this issue should turn to 'Diversity, and how to develop it' on page 12. But don't stop there. On page 14, we've got some great advice for charities whose senior managers are ready to move on but haven't yet found a successor. Meanwhile, pages 17 to 20 provide a selection of brilliant hints and tips for first-time leaders.

Our 'Spotlight on new CEOs' (page 17) starts with guidance from Peter Cardy, former chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, on dealing with three key groups of people: trustees; external stakeholders; and volunteers and staff. We also hear from Joanna Elson of the Money Advice Trust, who talks about her experiences on the Acevo New Chief Executive Programme (page 20).

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