Cascading Leadership: supporting peer-to-peer leadership development in the voluntary and community sector.
Cascading Leadership provides an invaluable free opportunity for leaders working in health and care organisations of any size in the voluntary and community sector in the UK to develop their leadership skills and receive practical support.
Good leadership is key to delivering high-quality services in any sector, and the voluntary and community sector (VCS) plays a vital role in health and care, reaching into all sections of the community.
“The involvement in this project has been transformational for myself as the leader of my charity, as well as the staff and volunteers. As a direct result of my engagement with the project, I have become more reflective in my decision-making as well as gained confidence from the experience”
– Joseph Jeffers, Director of Operations, ASKI
Their work with some of those leaders has highlighted some sector-specific issues, including:
- the range and complexity of the leadership role
- persistent funding and sustainability challenges
- isolation and lack of confidence
- a lack of leadership development opportunities
- difficulties in creating meaningful engagement with the public sector and commissioners.
The Cascading Leadership programme was developed in 2015 to enable us to explore a new way of building leadership skills and strengthening collaboration across the voluntary and community sector. It enables VCS leaders to share their extensive and varied expertise with peers, to talk about some of the challenges they face and to plan new ways of working.
“Through this project I have gained huge support and insight from the consultant I was paired with and I feel it has certainly developed my leadership skills and the methodology around decision-making”
– Mike Niles, Founder, b:Friend
During the programme, a Cascading Leadership consultant (an experienced VCS leader) is matched with a Cascading Leadership partner (a VCS leader seeking support). The consultant and partner meet at least five times over a period of eight months. During these meetings, the partner has an opportunity to work through organisational issues and receive support. The consultant also benefits from being stretched to develop their own leadership and skills, while being supported and supervised by senior staff at The King’s Fund. There is no charge for the programme, which is valued at £5,800 for each pair. It is being funded by the Big Lottery Fund using money raised thanks to National Lottery players.
Cascading Leadership is distinctive in that:
- people who provide support to other VCS organisations are themselves leaders in the VCS, so they understand strengths and challenges in the sector
- it develops the skills of the leaders both receiving and providing the support, building leadership across the sector
- those providing the support are supervised and trained by senior staff at The King’s Fund.
“I think the Cascading Leadership programme gave me the time to reflect on my skills and gaps and plot a way forward to fill those gaps. Working with the partner organisation widened my scope and helped me reflect on existing skills and experience and application in a very different setting.”
– Theresa Pass, CEO, Visyon