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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Get a fresh perspective through leadership exchange

This opinion piece is over 7 years old

Phili Wetton explains how a leadership exchange can give third sector managers a fresh perspective

Collaborative working is a recognised way to develop leadership skill capacity; networking identifies common themes, transferrable skills become apparent, and the opportunity to share best practise then results in more efficient working.

The Association of Chief Officers of Scottish Voluntary Organisations (ACOSVO) exists to support, strengthen and inspire leaders in the third sector through its provision of topical events and development opportunities. Its Leadership Exchange Programme gives individuals the opportunity to collaborate across different sectors gaining the ability to develop, influence and excel even further within their leadership roles. The programme gained recognition from the Scottish Government when it was recently shortlisted for the Employee Development and Skills category of the 2016 Scottish Public Service Awards.

I joined ACOSVO in October, and have been inspired to see how well the Leadership Exchange Programme meets the needs of its participants. Having worked in the voluntary sector for the last 10 years, and previous to that, in the private sector, I am very aware of how isolated many leaders in all sectors feel.

Phili Wetton

A strong peer network is crucial in developing leadership capacity and support

Phili Wetton

A strong peer network is crucial in developing leadership capacity and support. The Leadership Exchange Programme, initiated by ACOSVO in 2012, and more recently a work-stream of Workforce Scotland, has struck a real chord with me. It provides a fantastic free opportunity for all leaders to gain the support they so often need. By pairing individuals from different sectors in brief exchanges, they experience how it feels to walk in another’s shoes.

Middle, senior or executive level leaders get the chance to spend time in another organisation, attend conferences and events together or perhaps just meet for an informal coffee. This offers them a fresh perspective, signposting into another sector and the ability to share learning and experiences.

Participants have described the programme as “providing a reliable sounding board for work challenges and results in a renewed enthusiasm for your work”. OSCR chief executive David Robb was paired up with Steve Grimmond, chief executive at Fife Council in 2015. The two were able to meet up regularly and formed a mutual mentoring relationship that they described as “supportive and refreshing”, giving new insights into both their leadership roles.

Over the last five years more than 238 individuals have been matched in exchanges which have lasted from six months to several years!

My challenge as ACOSVO engagement manager is to make sure all leaders across Scotland are able to tap into this programme, so we can all work better together to deliver improved outcomes for individuals and communities across Scotland. We are facing complex and interrelated issues, which can be best addressed by thinking and working beyond our traditional organizational boundaries.

Previously a rolling programme, ACOSVO is now moving the Leadership Exchange to have two application dates a year. This will increase the pool of available participants, speed up the matching process and ensure exchange journey consistency and enhanced support. Processes will be streamlined and so better replicated and developed Scotland-wide. The application deadline dates are 28th February and 29th September 2017.

So what are you waiting for? Join now by completing a short online application or by emailing me at [email protected] to find out more about the benefits of the Leadership Exchange Programme. I look forward to receiving your applications.

Phili Wetton is the engagement manager at ACOSVO