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Developing leadership practice in voluntary organisations
Developing leadership practice in voluntary organisations

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2.1 Keeping your organisation real

Voluntary organisations often spring up and experience much success because of the brilliance, vision, drive and energy of particular individuals. We should not underestimate the power of such people to get things moving, particularly early on in an organisation’s life. That said, the problems we have highlighted with person-based leadership and transformational leadership should indicate that there are things we can do in order to ensure that this kind of leadership does not get out of hand. In particular, as organisations develop and grow, the person-based view of leadership becomes increasingly difficult to sustain or justify.

It is worth thinking about some practices that might encourage more critical engagement, rather than silence and sacrifice.

Activity 4 Speaking up in your organisation

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Can you think of any techniques or ideas within your workplace that would encourage people to speak up in contravention to the official organisational line? An example might be encouraging people to question a boss’ idea or speaking up in a meeting in a critical way. What might some of the benefits and risks be of such an approach? Make brief notes about this in your learning journal [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .


Speaking up in organisations can be intimidating, especially when it means disagreeing with powerful people. Powerful people often do not like to be contradicted. Of course, not all people in charge are like this – most are not, in all likelihood. That said, there could be some unique ways in which you could develop more of a culture of constructive criticism within your organisation. Such practices will surely appear differently depending on the context, as each organisation possesses varying degrees of formality and deference to authority. For some organisations, this might involve a quiet word with the boss in private, for others a culture of critique in meetings.

However, despite people’s best efforts, critical engagement with person-centred leadership can be ineffective. This can occur if the leader of the organisation has narcissistic tendencies. In the next section you will look at narcissism, and consider its significance in person-based leadership. You will once again examine this in the context of Kids Company.