Real Life Reflections on Role Modelling as a Team

02/06/2023 - Real Life Reflections on Role Modelling as a Team

Sara Dewar is a leadership development specialist, coach and mentor who leads on the Community Engagement for Leading to Change and the Leadership and Management Development Programme for the Scottish Clinical Leadership Fellowship.  

As part of the ‘Role Modelling starts with self’ Community Event, the team at Leading to Change took the time to explore role modelling in a collaborative context, taking the ethos of the programme as our example to role model – compassionate, collective and collaborative leadership that is inclusive and leads to connection.

We wanted to lead by example and take an honest look at the extent to which we were role modelling the leadership behaviours with two of our partners; Daysix and Kaleidoscope.

Stuart Glegg is a director of Daysix, a digital agency who have worked with us for many years, and key in the development of the Leading to Change website and app.

Jamey Street has been our partner in Kaleidoscope for the last two series run with them and has been instrumental in holding the ethos of our community events.

Although I have spent many hours with both, this was the first time I had asked them to publicly share their personal experience working with us as the Leading to Change client team. I asked them to be fully honest, fully open, that there was no expected right or wrong insights and that we would welcome all reflections.

I was a little nervous, as most are when we ask for feedback, as even if we feel there has been a positive relationship, we’re never quite sure how someone else may have read that relationship.

I asked them to reflect on what had been different about working with us using questions such as:

  • Have they seen us role model compassionate leadership in how we interact with them?
  • Have they seen us collaborate in real and practical terms, seen us be inclusive and to walk the talk that Leading to Change shares?
  • Reflect on this as individuals, a team and on an organisational basis, asking how did it feel working with us?
  • How did this impact working together and what was different from working with other organisations and teams?
  • Was it easier or harder to work in this way – did these leadership behaviours improve the experience of working with us?
  • Does the effort and the intention, the time that goes into building relationships, taking a relational approach and really working hard to be compassionate, collaborative and collective make a difference when working team to team?
  • Is it worth the time in a system that has minimal resource, that is time poor and where everyone has more to do and less time to do it?

Both spoke honestly and openly about shared voices, feeling involved and engaged and reflected that it was not the same as other client relationships, in that there was a feeling of being part of what we were trying to achieve, having values that aligned with ours and feeling the difference it made naming those and explicitly talking about how important it was to work to those values.

Jamey specifically mentioned the sense that everyone in their team had the feeling of being heard – enabled by our approach of bringing everyone’s voice into the conversation, regardless of role or length of service. Our practise of taking time to ‘check in’ for each meeting led to everyone being known by their name, being asked for their views and ideas and being seen as individuals rather than just suppliers.

It was humbling and reassuring to hear the impact taking this approach made on them both as individuals, as well as for their teams, as we have invested many hours with both organisations whilst working with them and both areas of work are hugely important to Leading to Change, both for us as a team and for the programme of work as a whole.

Those hours felt important to invest. To hear both Jamey and Stuart talk about the impact of taking that time to be in relationship with them as individuals, as teams and as organisations, has served to remind me that it is worth it. It is worth the time and the effort, the conscious intention to be present, to listen, to have the hard conversations when things are not going well enough or fast enough or in the right direction. To have those conversations with respect and to honour and care for those involved.

It does take time and effort, and it does take intention on a personal and a team level.  And it’s worth it to hear those individuals, their teams and their organisations say, ‘this relationship with you is different, feels different and I enjoyed it and appreciated it more.’

As project lead for both areas of work, on behalf of our team, it gives me joy and more to carry forward as I listen to their reflections; the good, the fun and the difficult, and to hold that as valuable insight and feedback.

In leadership development and in programme work, there is much talk of ROI or ‘return on investment ‘. 

My final thought here is this: the quality, honesty and genuine engagement in these partner relationships is a significant ‘return on investment’ in terms of time, effort, intention, and curiosity, that has brought us problem solving, creativity, ideas, extra mile examples and a genuine enjoyment to those involved in the work.

a photo of someone wearing a black jumper

Sara Dewar

Principal Lead, Leading to Change Delivery Team, NES

Sara is a coach and people development specialist in Executive and Leadership development, coaching, talent management and engagement. Coming from the private sector, she has embraced the chance to work with health, social care and social work related organisations. She enjoys working in the NES Leading to Change Strategic Delivery team and as also a coach with the opportunities to connect across the wider system as part of this role.

Sara currently leads for Digital, Communications and Engagement for Leading to Change and also leads the Leadership and Management Development Programme for the Scottish Clinical Leadership Fellowship in NHS Education for Scotland. She is also involved as coach for Coaching Matters, Coaching for Wellbeing and in third sector pro bono programmes.

A mum to two boys, she can regularly be found at the side-line of a rugby or football pitch holding water bottles and hoodies.

All information regarding our contributors was correct at the time of publishing.

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