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Natural leadership: why circles are better than trianglesSarah Carter

by Sarah Carter, Head of Leadership at HOME Fundraising Ltd

09.05.16


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Natural leadership: why circles are better than trianglesWhat do we look for in our leaders and managers?

For us at HOME, the answer doesn’t lie in hierarchical leadership where instructions are dictated from on high.

We’re more into circles than we are triangles.

We work with a model that encourages leadership from the centre rather than the top; a model that borrows the term Unifying Centre from the world of psychotherapy where the therapist is seen as a Unifying Centre for their client. Not that we expect our managers to be therapists or indeed for their team members to be in crisis; far from it. But we do ask our managers to be the stable, reliable centre of the group – the Unifying Centre - where their ripple effect (hopefully positive ones!) are felt throughout the circle.

The Unifying Centre guides the group. It’s where people look to for the desirable habits, behaviours, attitudes, values and thinking. It sets the tone for the group.

Unifying Centres can be found at the heart of many thriving cultures. When the culture is modelled positively by a Unifying Centre, the culture is alive and well. People are inspired, motivated and engaged to perpetuate those same positive behaviours and attitudes throughout the team and across the organisation.

The group’s behaviours are communicated naturally, inseparable from the character of the leader, and the effect is shared and passed amongst the group. The result is exponential growth of the values and attitudes modelled by the Unifying Centre. In this way the group is unified by the qualities and characteristics the leader has invested – essentially the group character becomes a reflection of the character at its core.

When something in the culture is missing, when results aren’t as they should be, when behaviours and attitudes aren’t quite right, then it can most likely be traced back to something that is lacking in what’s being modelled by the Unifying Centre. To be aware of this within the group dynamic ensures there is a route to access and fix any such problem.
As a Unifying Centre, our leaders recognise the role they have to play in the group dynamic, in the relationships they have with everyone around them, in influencing other people’s buy in and passion, in caring about the outcomes, in seeing what behaviours they are modelling and how the decisions they are making fit into the bigger picture at HOME. Our leaders recognise their effect – the importance of what they model to their team, limiting negative behaviours and feeding the positive.

We know it’s a very different philosophy from your traditional hierarchical leadership approach. Ultimately, it is about establishing a culture where your leaders can grow and develop their own natural leadership style, inspiring those around them. Rather than disparate groups, the whole organisation is interconnected as they reflect the habits, behaviours and intention of the Unifying Centre.

To find out more, watch the Fundraising Online session ‘Leaders as Unifying Centres: Recognising our role’ by Neil Hope and Sarah Carter.

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