Peer Power – the value of Leadership Groups

What is the value and relevance to social enterprises of Peer to Peer Leadership Groups? In the commercial world they are well established; members can pay in excess of £10k a year to be part of one. So, how can they work in our sector?

Firstly, let’s look at what usually happens at the meetings? Most run on a set format – an expert speaker, followed by an issues session and the chance to network. 121 coaching outside of the meetings is becoming an increasingly popular addition. All of these elements derive value for the group members but it does require a half-day commitment each month.

The obvious value of the format described is:

  • The expert speaker, who can give great insights into a wide range of business practices that allow you to grow your enterprise
  • The issues session is a valuable chance to get insights into how other leaders would solve your problem, all in a safe and trusted space. This is often called “The Board You Can’t Afford”
  • Networking is a chance to develop business opportunities and grow your network
  • Coaching where you work with an experienced business coach to develop specific areas of your enterprise in detail

So, given all this value, why has the concept not taken off fully in the world of social enterprise and the charity sector? I think there are four key reasons (if my points appear provocative, I think we all recognise at least some of the issues involved in trying to develop sector talent). They are:

  1. A reluctance to pay for anything and viewing talent development as a cost rather than an investment.
  2. Charity leaders feeling they have to get permission from their trustees,who are risk adverse to spending money other than on delivery.
  3. You don’t have the time. Sector leaders are notoriously time-poor, some of which can be justified but smarter working can help.
  4. Ego – the feeling that you have nothing to learn from anyone else.

To alter these attitudes requires a change of culture and mindset. Now, that shouldn’t be too difficult, should it? After all, the social enterprise sector is built on the principles of cooperation and mutualism.

Bubble Chamber have teamed up with CAN to run a peer network within their Mezzanine operation. It proves the power of peer support and the impact it can have on growing individuals and organisations. Contact us if you’d like to be a guest at a future meeting.

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