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CVSL / VSSN Event: Leading through challenging times - videos now available

Expansive opportunity makers but selective opportunity takers? Positional agility and tactical social skill in English third sector social service

Dr Alison Body, Canterbury Christ Church University, and Dr Jeremy Kendall, University of Kent
Alison Body emphasised the role of tactical social skills in commissioning relationships. She describes there is a new competitive commissioning environment that have created new rules to follow, which fuel increasing concerns over the changes in commissioning relationships. Her research identifies how voluntary organisations demonstrate agency in how they approach commissioning relationships, and by drawing on Fligstein’s field theory she illustrates how these social skills can be used as tactics to move in and across fields. 

Challenging positionality and power relations in participatory and action research

Stephanie Denning, PhD student in Geography at the University of Bristol 
Stephanie Denning draws on her PhD research project that explores food poverty and hunger holidays. She discussed her role as a leader in a Make Lunch initiative and draws upon the concepts of positionality and power to illustrate the everyday experiences within the initiative. Her research uses an ethnographic approach to look at the everyday practices within the initiative, highlighting this as a beneficial methodology to observe the everyday practices of leadership within voluntary sector organisations.  

The trouble with charismatic leadership: Voluntary sector leaders' reflections on the collapse of Kids Company

Dr Jon Dean, Sheffield Hallam
Jon Dean’s presentation addressed the controversial topic of the collapse of Kids Company. He applied the theoretical concepts of charismatic leadership – drawn particularly from Max Weber’s work on sources of authority – to the former Director of Kids Company, Camila Batmanghelidjh, to unpack her traits, characteristics and role as a leader. His discussion looks at various explanations of the collapse of Kids Company, identifying different relationships, reputations, responsibilities and positions.

How failure to lead second order change causes organisational paralysis

Candy Perry, Independent researcher 
Candy Perry discussed success and failures in leadership and management focusing on the need to understand what is happening in different parts of the organisation in order to avoid leading or seeking to control changes simply from the top but thereby failing to make effective changes. She highlighted the need for a ‘whole systems’ approach, explaining through examples of five different voluntary organisations that she had supported in her consultancy work. She worked with these organisations where leaders felt paralysed into inaction through a form of action research to support learning and to help to unlock some their internal conflicts.

Leading Voluntary Organisations: an investigation of patterns, narratives and the value of authenticity

Dr Epaminondas Koronis (presenter) and Dr Katalin Iles, University of Westminster
Epaminondas Koronis draws on empirical data that explores patterns of leadership in charities in Greece. He describes how leadership in the voluntary sector is distinctive in this context, by arguing organisations require flexibility and more resilience to navigate this complex environment. He illustrates how leadership is complex, therefore, to unpack this it is helpful to understand the context. Various approaches to do this are through exploring narrative, storytelling and practices. Epaminondas puts forth a strong argument that a beneficial way to understand leadership is through interpreting leadership as a symbolic process.