OPINION: The alphabet of being a charity chief executive

Geraldine Peacock, chief executive of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

What does it take to be chief executive of a voluntary organisation, I found myself wondering as a roomful of this rarish breed sat together at a masterclass last week. All the usual things spring to mind - ambition, dedication, single-mindedness - but are these different from any other sector? Probably not, although the biggest differentiating factor is being answerable to multiple stakeholder groups.

As light relief in the less engrossing moments of the event, I doodled with the words "chief executive" and came up with the following:

C is for clear-headedness; clarifying the vision; catalysing ideas.

H is for hindsight - the ability to learn from mistakes and encourage this in others.

I is for intuition - being tuned in to the temperature of your organisation and prepared to back instinct in decision making.

E is for equality throughout the organisation on diversity issues, and accountability at all levels.

F is for being forthright, and fair: someone who earns respect by speaking his or her mind honestly.

E is for example: there is nothing more important than being seen to practice what you preach.

X is for xtraordinary. It's a bit of a cheat, but you can take that whichever way you will.

E is for empathy: having the ability to relate to the different elements of the organisation, by learning about and understanding them.

C is for the capability to operate in different gears, sometimes leading from the front, other times coaching and supporting from the sidelines.

U is for unlimited energy. These are very demanding jobs and require staying power and resilience.

T is for trust and, in particular, developing a bond between trustees and managers.

I is for inventiveness - the need to be always on the look-out for the next big idea - and inspiration.

V is for very determined - you must be, for the impact of your charity to be felt and measured.

And finally, E is for ensuring delegation, because you can only ensure sustainability through good teamwork and sharing responsibility.

At this point, the masterclass picked up and so did my interest in it, but could this be the start of Third Sector's Puzzle Corner?

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