23rd November 2017

Open University Business School, Milton Keynes

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Programme and abstracts available to download here.

Leadership is back on the agenda, following a range of influential inquiries and reports calling for strengthened leadership in and of the voluntary sector, alongside improved governance and accountability. Over the years, sector bodies like NCVO and ACEVO have ‘taken a lead’ on the issue; more recently, we have seen the King’s Fund and Clore launch new leadership development initiatives for the sector.

Yet there has traditionally been scepticism towards the concept of leadership within the sector, perhaps because it is seen as counter to notions of emancipation, anti-hierarchicalism and democratic practice prized in some accounts of the sector. Also problematically, this focus seems based on the premise that the sector needs to do better, and its leaders are not up to scratch.

This day seminar aims to examine this premise in more detail, and expose to greater scrutiny the idea that leadership is part of the solution. For a start, we might ask what is leadership? Is there a leadership deficit, as some think, or is this a distraction from the real issues? What leadership thinking is most relevant to the voluntary sector? And how could leadership be strengthened, if we agree it should be?

We warmly invite the VSSN community to contribute to a diverse, compelling and critical engagement with these issues by considering the role of leadership in theory and in practice.



9.45-10.30  Registration and coffee

10.30am    Introduction to the day and brief history of Milton Keynes – James Rees

Morning session –  Leading in different contexts: Exploring positionality, power and participation

10.50-11.25 Presentation 1:

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

Alison Body, Canterbury Christ Church University & Jeremy Kendall, University of Kent

11.25-12.00 Presentation 2:

Challenging positionality and power relations in participatory and action research

Stephanie Denning, School of Geographical Sciences ESRC-funded PhD, University of Bristol

12-12.45     VSSN AGM and sharing news about research and events

12.45-2.00 Lunch

Afternoon session – Challenging traditional leadership discourse: new directions in research

2.00-2.35    Presentation 3:

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

Jon Dean, Senior Lecturer in Politics and Sociology, Sheffield Hallam University

2.35-3.10    Presentation 4:

How failure to lead second order change causes organisational paralysis

Candy Perry, MSc, Theory of Constraints. Managing Director, Concinnity Consultancy and Research Ltd. candy@catalyticconsultancy.com

3.10-3.45    Presentation 5:

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

Epaminondas Koronis and Katalin Illes, University of Westminster, Westminster Business School

3.45-4.00   Coffee break

4.00-4.30  Plenary and panel discussion

4.30           Close


Bookings are closed for this event.