The Transformative Leadership Programme: Participants tell their story South Belfast TLP, Spring 2020

Here, participants on the second South Belfast TLP share their story.

Nine members of the second South Belfast TLP Programme participated in the focus group to inform the Case Study. Participants included those working in community organisations, the PSNI, the Housing Executive, volunteers, and a Post-Graduate. The course started in February 2020 and the eighth module was completed in mid-March, just before lockdown. The two final modules were postponed due to Covid 19 and were completed online in May. Participants were looking forward to visiting several interface projects across Belfast, which have been discussed during the programme. The participant from the Housing Executive has volunteered to organise these visits post Covid-19.

“People need to be aware of the opportunity that this programme offers. It is quite unique”.


Experience and Learning

What did you like best about the programme?

The diversity of the group – everyone doing different roles at work and doing different things, the range of experience and skills within the group; and people bringing different perspectives. The group enjoyed meeting new people with whom they shared a common interest.

“We very quickly felt comfortable together in the group; and although we all work in different fields we share the common wish to know more about Transformative Leadership”.

Participants enjoyed the practical activities; participating and working as small teams, including building a tower out of basic materials as a collaborative team “I’ll never forget our tower – it would still be standing”. They also enjoyed the challenge of presenting the vision in a creative picture or three-dimensionally.

The group enjoyed the mix of theory and practical activities. Participants welcomed the handouts that had been prepared for them to take away which enabled them to go further into theoretical issues without losing the opportunity for discussion; which facilitated the sharing of practical experience and expertise from different perspectives. Participants said:

  • “The programme has been inventive and creative – we have stepped out of the role and norms of the role we are in. People need to be aware of the opportunity that this programme offers. It is quite unique”.
  • “I have referred people onto this course after the first two modules”.

What topics stood out for you?

There was a consensus amongst the TLP group that the Programme was especially useful in the following ways:

  • On things we already knew a bit about it was good to have the refresher
  • Structures
  • Mental models
  • Breaking down an event
  • Problem analysis
  • The activities – “the ideas and approaches are things I would like to use in the future”
  • A lot of food for thought
  • “This was very different to the training we are used to receiving, but in a good way, giving us a different perspective”

What are you likely to ‘take back’ to your life/work in the community?

  • Having the Vision – “for me having something where you can place yourself in a scenario and having a visual perspective was beneficial and interesting and I would use this constantly in the future”.
  • “Design Thinking – this was a new concept to me. I would use this in terms of bringing something new back to the team and take the time to do it properly, following the processes we discussed on the training. Our work tends to be responsive and reactive – this would be something to bring to a practical team day, although I would do a bit more work on it myself first”.

What difference has it made?

Is there anything you could or would do now that you wouldn’t have felt able to do before?

Participants fed back different thoughts in response to this question; however there were similarities in the need to be more analytical at times (“which is important to remember in community work as sometimes we can just rush in wanting to do the best in a situation”) and discussing ideas with others.

  • Be more analytical about the situations I am in
  • Step backwards at times and look at the best way forward, rather than rushing in
  • When looking at new challenges or projects, involve and engage with others more
  • Organise times for team discussion using some of the tools and processes we have tried ourselves during the Programme.

“I have started using the language that has been used in the TLP at work; it is very relevant to the things that are happening in communities at the moment, TLP stuff keeps cropping up. A lot of the things we have covered are obvious and common knowledge, but putting it into the context of the Programme you think about it as a whole. I hadn’t previously made the linkages”.

Are there people/agencies you feel able to talk to and work with now that you weren’t before?

Participants valued making connections with people from other organisations and sectors working in the area: 

  • “Through this Programme I have made new contacts. For example, I plan to meet with Neighbourhood Officers of PSNI to address and achieve solutions related to small elements of conflict”.
  • “We will continue to have access to each other through WhatsApp”

What difference has this made to how you will engage in interface areas?

Particiants’ feedback included:

  • We now have more knowledge about ways of looking to find solutions.
  • It is possible to use different methods to get to where you need to go.
  • I can see the different ways in which people are looking at things (challengers, finishers etc). With some groups we need to go back to basics to help the community evolve and go through the journey together.

“This is the area I work in and an area I am comfortable with and aware of the challenges. Before the TLP I had a good sense of what works well for us. Through the Programme I have seen the benefits of using new approaches – along with what we already do – especially the visual exercises. I’ve also seen the importance of acknowledging the good work we have done and celebrating when things have worked well, and how far the community has come on”.

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