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June O'Sullivan, LEYF CEO

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Leading a change; a challenge or a headache?

7165607001_1cd23d8824_zThe role of the CEO is a varied one and this week I found myself commenting on assignments LEYF staff had done on change. I was really rather chuffed by their thoughtful approach to the change process. Of course I was also very flattered to see them quote my book Leadership in Early Years!  Their most common reflection was that change comes no matter what, good or bad and the challenge is being ‘change ready’ because people will resist it even if it improves their lives. They reflected on the sense of urgency for change and the energy needed to make the change. Its right to assume that change of any kind makes you tired.  Just thinking about it makes your head ache. I was therefore reassured that all five assignments demonstrated a good understanding about the culture of change and the ability to seek, assess and incorporate new ideas and practice avoiding teaching people to get better at a bad game. They got extra marks for backing up their intentions with a robust action plans to ensure that each step of the change was plotted, planned and monitored.
LEYF is changing because we are growing.  As CEO I feel duty bound to grow the organisation so we can give the LEYF experience to 5000 children. Our magic is providing nurseries in those neighbourhoods often forgotten about and abandoned.  This means that right now we are welcoming new managers, staff and apprentices into the fold. We need to build our community of followers.  Apparently Lady Gaga calls her  supporters ‘little monsters’ and Justin Bieber’s are called ‘beliebers‘ so I am sticking to ‘BeLEYFers‘, a phrase coined by a LEYF senior manager who thought he was jesting!justin-bieber-and-lady-gaga

Coming into something new is always a challenge and that’s why the research shows that if people are to leave they tend to do it during their first six months. Induction is therefore key as well as making people feel welcome. Michael Fullan in his book ‘Leading in a culture of change‘ reminds us about the importance of leadership in the change process. He has five dimensions for leading change:

1. Have a moral purpose for leading the change. In other words, if you don’t have the guts for it, leave now.  Its is all about culture and core values with leaders enthusing and encouraging a belief in their staff for the change.  Though he reminds us to listen and expect to have your own practice scrutinised.

2. You need to show you understand change because change is a messy business. He says (and I love him for it) that change is rocket science because it’s so complex and we are so often given contradictory advice. (he has an interesting view on management consultants!)  His best advice is that the best way to handle change is to allow it to happen.  He is not keen on coercive or pace setting leadership but keen on authoritative, affiliative, democratic and coaching.  In other words, conduct the team in a harmonious song , while engaging their views as they try it out. I feel an episode of the choir coming on. (though if anyone is interested I would love a LEYF choir….!?)

3. His third element was the importance of relationships. He reminds us that most people want to be part of their organisation and want to know the organisation’s purpose and want to make a difference. Leaders must nurture the next generation of leaders and build a strong organisation. Good ideas come from talented people working together and for that to happen we need an organisation that nurtures relationships and has an emotionally intelligent approach to the way we do business. We need happiness.

4. He advocates the importance of knowledge building that helps everyone understand the context of change. So, in the case of LEYF, its child poverty, inequality and access to lifelong education which shapes our ambition to create a new form of childcare.

5. Finally, Fullan concludes with the notion of coherence making as the counter balance to the disturbance needed for mobilising us to confront problems that have never been addressed or manage the chaos of change. A sort of ying and yang of the change world.

So, welcome to the new LEYF staff who are entering a changing organisation. Hopefully, we will keep our culture strong and remain emotionally connected to our staff but if ever there was a time to grow a business that wants to demonstrate another way of providing community childcare  designed to meet the needs of a global urban environment, then it’s now. Another great book is The Challenger Spirit  – Kurshsed Dehnugara

‘The Challenger Spirit is rooted in being able to challenge norms conventions and habits both inside ourselves and the environments we need. before we can challenge them we have to be able to see them clearly with the best interests of the organisation at heart.’
Leaders-wanted

 

About June O'Sullivan

An inspiring speaker, author and regular commentator on Early Years, Social Business and Child Poverty, June has been instrumental in achieving a major strategic and cultural shift for the award winning London Early Years Foundation, resulting in increased profile and profitability over the past eight years. As CEO of the UK's leading childcare charity and social enterprise since 2006, June continues to break new ground in the development of LEYF's scalable social business model. She remains a tireless campaigner, looking for new ways to influence policy and make society a better place for all children and families. June is a champion of community-based, multi-generational projects and a great believer in the potential of greater social and cultural capital as a means of delivering long-term social impact. She continues to advise the Government in order to better implement their vision for Early Years. June is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Director of Early arts, Council Member of the Early Intervention Foundation, Chair of Paddington Farm Trust, Founding Member of the Institute for Early Years and was recently voted into the ‘NMT Power 20’ - top 3. June was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours in 2013, for her services to London’s children. June continues to work closely with the Government in order to better implement their vision for Early Years, to improve quality and promote a better understanding of the incredible long-term benefits of play-based Early Years education. June is a published author, with an MA in Primary & Early Childhood Studies and MBA from London South Bank University. Read June’s blog: http://www.leyf.org.uk/blog or An inspiring speaker, author and regular commentator on Early Years, Social Business and Child Poverty, June has been instrumental in achieving a major strategic and cultural shift for the award winning London Early Years Foundation, resulting in increased profile and profitability over the past eight years. As CEO of the UK's leading childcare charity and social enterprise since 2006, June continues to break new ground in the development of LEYF's scalable social business model. She remains a tireless campaigner, looking for new ways to influence policy and make society a better place for all children and families. June is a champion of community-based, multi-generational projects and a great believer in the potential of greater social and cultural capital as a means of delivering long-term social impact. She continues to advise the Government in order to better implement their vision for Early Years. June is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Director of Early arts, Council Member of the Early Intervention Foundation, Chair of Paddington Farm Trust, Founding Member of the Institute for Early Years and was recently voted into the ‘NMT Power 20’ - top 3. June was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours in 2013, for her services to London’s children. June continues to work closely with the Government in order to better implement their vision for Early Years, to improve quality and promote a better understanding of the incredible long-term benefits of play-based Early Years education. June is a published author, with an MA in Primary & Early Childhood Studies and MBA from London South Bank University. Read June’s blog: www.leyf.org.uk/blog or www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/june-osullivan-mbe/ Follow her on Twitter www.twitter.com/JuneOSullivan Follow her on Twitter www.twitter.com/JuneOSullivan
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  • Alison

    Emotional resilience is key I feel in managing change. Framing difficult and challenging situations with positivity. Allowing oneself the opportunity to ride the wave without becoming weighed down in negitive unproductive emotions.

  • Alison

    I am a beLEYFer, not sure about a choir but I am ready to embrace change. As Charles Kettering said……”The world hates change, but its the only thing that has brought progress.”

    • June O’Sullivan

      Thank you what a good quote

  • grace

    Wow!!! Very inspiring. Not part of the beLEYFers yet, but wud definitely grab the opportunity of a leader with both hands.:-)

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