NICVA's Alumni network inspired to Lead Change

19 Sep 2016 Sandra Bailie    Last updated: 19 Sep 2016

On Friday 16 September NICVA held its first Leaders’ Alumni event  - Leading Change.  Managers and leaders from across the sector who had gained ILM accreditation from NICVA came together to learn from each other and be inspired.

The Alumni has been started to provide opportunities for those who have graduated from NICVA's ILM centre to continue to network, support and learn from each other. This network will encourage managers to continue their professional development and engage with their peers on current issues and share experiences. We believe that it is important that we continue to invest in managers after they have completed their qualifications.

NICVA became an approved ILM centre in 2009 and currently delivers a wide range of accredited programmes including: L3 and L5 in leadership and management, L3 and L5 in management of volunteers and L3 and L5 in coaching and mentoring. Since October 2012 over 300 people have participated in an ILM course the majority of these people are middle or senior managers from voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations.

At the inaugural event on Friday Seamus McAleavey opened by stating the importance of continuous professional development and that by building the capacity and skills of managers within the sector ultimately organisations and the sector would be stronger, more robust and able to adapt and change.

Roisin Kelly, Skills Development Coordinator highlighted the value of the ILM accreditation and the amount of work and time people put into achieving the qualifications. She emphasised the importance of applying what you learn to your practice and the impact of the learning such as more effective strategic planning, improved staff management and better problem solving skills.

Austin Treacy, Strategic Lead on Enterprise, Innovation and Activity in Northern Ireland Prison Service, shared how he led transformational change in Hydebank Wood leading the team to transition from a conventional Young Offenders Institution to a Secure College.  He described the challenges of thinking outside his and his staff’s comfort zones, while letting go of some traditional prison practices and procedures and learning how to think, behave and manage a College. He also talked about another recent innovation - the Cabin at Hydebank Wood.  This shabby chic café has created a food hub with a focus on healthy eating has evolved to become a shared space used by staff, students, families and the community.  The concept of a shared space in a custodial setting is a very visible evidence of a changing culture.

Some pointers Austin gave on what on things to consider to make the change process as successful as possible include:

  • Think about who can help you? – use expertise around you
  • Engage people – address barriers to engagement
  • Build a new norm – work on developing a new culture
  • Know how to get influence – think of who you have to influence
  • Consider how best to use the resources you have – skills, space, natural resources
  • Have a mentality that change is constant
  • Give your management team confidence
  • Build trust

Jacinta Linden,Director of SPACE NI, then described how she has taken her organisation through massive change in the last few years. She told us of how she set up South Down Family Health Initiative (SDFHI) in 2004 which rebranded to Space in 2014. Space now employs 17 staff directly, leads on the Kilkeel Surestart project, coordinates the family support hub as well as running a social enterprise Love your Space (LYS). She described the type of support that SPACE has provided to over 4500 families in need and how they had spent a lot of time listening to the community and engaging people to influence their plans. They used scenario planning to help them decide on the best way forward.

Some of her advice for leading change included:

  • Take people with you – your board and community of interest
  • Acknowledge where expertise sits and use it
  • The importance of lobbying for more support and resources
  • Connect what you are doing with other people and work together
  • Constantly evaluate everything you do and encourage self-evaluation in all staff
  • Have a healthy attitude to risk
  • Keep learning
  • Look at what you do well and what links to your mission statement
  • Listen

During the panel discussion the delegates discussed the challenges of embedding cultural change, the importance of leading by example and leading beyond authority. Jacinta and Austin encouraged the delegates to own the change and be the change that they want to see in their organisations and community, as well as knowing the strengths that they bring as individuals.

Feedback from delegates:

An excellent opportunity for networking and opportunity to explore new ideas.
Michelle Menice, Co-operation Ireland

This was an excellent opportunity to network with other managers and agencies facing change – it can be very isolating to manage change so it’s great to share concerns with other organisations and leaders.
Kathryn Stevenson, Children’s Law Centre

Today was a fantastic opportunity to network and be engaged with real change makers who spoke so well about their experiences from a human perspective. It has given me the confidence to think that what I value can influence positive change.
Stacey Lee, Age NI

NICVA plans to hold another Alumni event early next year.'s picture
by Sandra Bailie

Head of Organisational Development

[email protected]

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