This welcome blog is written by Dr Carol Jacklin-Jarvis from the Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership. It was published in February 2016.
These are uncertain times for voluntary organisations – with resource constraints, media scrutiny, shifting public perceptions, and the continuing challenge to respond to public policy and social need. In such times of uncertainty, two calls are frequently heard – first a call for leadership, and second a call to collaborate. Sadly, experience tells us that neither leadership nor collaboration provides a simple solution to the challenges of an uncertain environment, but research does give us some insight into the compromises, trade-offs, and tensions through which individuals exercise influence within and across organisational and sector boundaries, and the processes through which they make things happen.
It’s a great time then to be launching the philanthropically funded Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership here at The Open University. The Centre provides a new opportunity to access free learning resources and research-led insight into leadership in the voluntary sector and collaboration within and across sector boundaries. We will work with stakeholders from academic, practitioner and policy communities to advance understanding of the complexity of the problems voluntary organisations face, the ambiguities of stakeholder responsibilities and accountabilities, and the dynamics caused by ever changing public policies. In particular, the Centre’s work will focus on the needs of smaller organisations, whose work is increasingly impacted by the uncertain environment. It is all too easy to look elsewhere for leadership – to large organisations, individuals in senior positions, figureheads with media profile. Instead, the focus of the Centre’s research and learning resources will be on exploring the processes through which leadership is enacted by all who look to make a difference – with or without overt power and position.
We look forward to sharing the learning journey with you.
24th February 2016