Third Sector leaders celebrate the vibrancy of the Hull and East Yorkshire network

Seventy-seven leaders from the Hull and East Yorkshire voluntary, community and social enterprise sector came together last week at Hull Truck Theatre for a jam-packed day celebrating a new cohort of twelve emerging leaders from the HEY Confident Futures leadership network, and a vibrant year of connecting and collaboration.

Starting with an engaging warm up led by Be Great Fitness, the day involved a dazzling array of inspiring speakers interspersed with a hearty throng of networking and collaborating.

Rachel Fellows, Collaborative CEO of the Yorkshire food empire Bettys & Taylors Group, opened the presentations by sharing their values: that everyone in the organisation needed to have a sense of place and belonging and how they lived by the fact that there is fairness, opportunities and openings for every single person in the organisation.

The audience members were fascinated by the fact that Bettys has not one but five CEOs all collaborating, bringing five times the experience just one CEO could have, and how because of that the CEO board are experts in sustainability, communications, finance, the workforce and governance all in one go.

Rachel said: “Our philosophy is all about sharing the risk and spreading the load and we recruit different CEOs for their attitude as much as for their skills.”

Beth Goddard, who has been coaching the New to Leadership cohort, talked through her personal journey to leadership. Stressing the lows as much as the highs and how her life experiences had got her to the place she is today “‘Everyone needs to ‘find their why’ and remember the mantra of know yourself, be yourself and take care of yourself.”

This became a theme for many of the leaders throughout the day. Beth also talked about learning to say no and giving other people opportunities.

The audience then divided, half into a breakout room entitled ‘Find your badass’ where some of the twelve new leaders confidently shared their learning journey and how their lives had changed from taking the course.

They heard how to flip your imposter syndrome and instead find your strengths. Are you people-focused, measured, purposeful or imaginative? These are all traits of a good leader and we don’t all have them all.

One personal story from a new leader was told by Severine Kipili from the Bora Shabaa Refugee Group, whose journey from the Congo, via years in a refugee camp in Malawi to setting up a group for refugees in Hull, has given her the strength and skills to help others. Before the leadership course she did not believe in herself, but now has gained confidence and understands that leadership strengthens the people she helps too.

“Some leadership qualities you can learn, some are natural,” said Severine. “The New to Leadership course gave us the insight to maximise our strengths. I now have the confidence to look people in the eye. Being a badass is a compliment. It takes guts, it takes being vulnerable. It involves effort. It embraces humanity.”

At the same time, Spencer Locker, Senior T2 Consultant, went through Social Styles to improve communication in leadership. To a rapt audience, Spencer dispelled the myth that we should treat others as we want to be treated, but instead treat them how they want to be treated. He explored the four main communication styles of leadership and how understanding these helps us to connect and collaborate.

Hull Truck Theatre’s Associate Director (Creative Learning), Tom Saunders, demonstrated how to tell our stories, and bring drama to them by inviting two actors to act out a date scene and have the audience make suggestions on how they could improve their dating skills. It was hilarious and engaging and ended with everyone knowing more about how they can tell their own story in a more engaging way.

After some awards championing the leaders who shone in unconventional ways, the Deputy Director of Partnership at the National Lottery Community Fund, Abdou Sidibe, closed the day by talking about how we can create the environment and opportunities for others, giving them the confidence to be the leader they can be.

It echoed much of what had been learnt and everyone left the auditorium that bit taller, that bit more confident and most definitely with a wider network of people to collaborate with.

Harriet Johnson of Two Ridings Community Foundation, who heads up the HEY Confident Futures Network, summed up the day:

“The space was absolutely buzzing. It was wonderful to see all these people together, practising much of what they have learnt and strengthening not just the network but the whole region from their rich collaboration. I am so proud of what they have achieved and Hull and East Yorkshire are stronger and more vibrant for it.”

Find out more about HEY Confident Futures Leadership Network.