TLP Participant Story: Siobhán McAlister, South Belfast TLP Spring 2021
She completed the course alongside participants from Belfast City Council, South City Resource and Development Agency, Belfast Trust, Tools for Solidarity, Barnardo’s NI, Belfast Asian Women’s Academy, NICRAS, and local residents.
“I think political leaders in Northern Ireland would really benefit from the TLP – they could learn so much about effective leadership, collaboration and a lot more. I think people from the political sector should realise the benefits of the TLP. It could change politician’s approach to some of what they do, for the better.”
- What motivated you to sign up to this particular programme?
A colleague did the Transformative Leadership Programme in West Belfast, and Claire Hanna also encouraged me to look at the South Belfast TLP. I previously worked in NICVA, and this gave the TLP additional credibility.
Experience and Learning
- What topics stood out for you?
I thought it was great to look at your own style of leadership and management. I enjoyed the vision discussions and activities, Social Innovation and looking at how we deliver change – I got a lot from that.
- What are you likely to ‘take back’ to your life/work in the community?
Some of the models, for example Design Thinking, and applying these models into my own work. It was useful to look the at the Goleman and Belbin models, to think about my own leadership style, to understand what best suits me, what I could improve on, and what approaches I bring into the workplace. I got an understanding about how other people lead and where they are coming from. I also saw the importance of having a vision that people can buy into, knowing the end goal, and looking at the process of getting there.
- How would you summarise your experience of the programme?
“A positive experience, that facilitated connections with others”.
- Is there anything you could or would do now that you wouldn’t have felt able to do before?
I feel more comfortable and confident about getting involved in community style projects. I can really see the advantages of bringing the community together, having had the experience of the TLP, and I feel more comfortable about the thought of engaging with people I’ve not met before.
- Are there people/agencies you feel able to talk to and work with now that you weren’t before?
It was great in our TLP sessions as there was a good balance of people from statutory and community organisations, including people who work with asylum seekers and refugees – good to connect with them.
- What difference will this make to how you engage in your interface area?
I work across the whole of South Belfast. The TLP has helped bring me back to understanding the value of different perceptions and experiences and using the skill of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and where they are coming from. The conversations around the Holyland have reinvigorated me to think about the issues in the Holyland. I can see the value of not being afraid to try something that’s already been tried; involving different people in different situations can make something work this time.
- What difference will the course make to the interface area overall?
The TLP is a great way to connect people from across the area and being able to have good meaningful discussions and debate with people you may not usually come across. It was so nice to go into the Zoom Breakout Rooms – I was initially worried how these would work, but after the first one I really looked forward to seeing people during the Breakout Room exercises. It was good to engage and reaching an agreed understanding, listen to the diversity of ideas and experiences, and look at solutions to problems and issues.
- Which issues in particular do you think you might get involved in?
Possibly something in the Holyland, it’s a huge issue for us. I can see the benefit of using the skills from the TLP to reach some solutions. It is an area where year after year there are the same problems. I think we need to look beyond the focus on policing – we need to look at the processes for long-term sustainable solutions.
- How will you apply new ways of working, ideas or approaches?
I have recently become Team Manager and all of the learning about management and leadership has been very useful in terms of working in our own team. I learnt more about motivating others in a way that means I am not micro-managing, but getting people involved in what they are interested in. I am using collaborative learning and applying the models to the work I do.
- To what extent do you think these changes would have occurred in the absence of this course?
I think the course has had a big impact on me. To a large extent I wouldn’t have got this type of learning elsewhere. I think political leaders in Northern Ireland would really benefit from the TLP – they could learn so much about effective leadership, collaboration and a lot more. I think people from the political sector should realise the benefits of the TLP. It could change politician’s approach to some of what they do, for the better.
There is so much to be learnt from this Programme, there were so many useful and thought-provoking conversations in each module, as well as examples of how not to do it. I would 100% recommend the course to colleagues. The organic connections I made were so valuable.
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