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Collaborative leadership in voluntary organisations
Collaborative leadership in voluntary organisations

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1 Power and influence

Listen to another extract from Family Time's Ellen.

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Ellen expresses concern that collaborating with other organisations means that they will have power over Family Time’s future. Her time and priorities are impacted by external agencies, and she struggles to see how she will be able to influence the regional partnership.

A jigsaw is made up of many individuals
Figure 1 Working together

Although Ellen’s story is fictional, it reflects stories we have heard repeatedly about how it feels to work with, and endeavour to influence, larger organisations that have power to shape the focus and future of smaller voluntary organisations. This can especially be the case when service delivery is commissioned by large public sector organisations. One research paper that explores relationships between Scottish third sector organisations and the state describes the need to continually negotiate a tension between independence and mission on the one hand and contract requirements on the other (Egdell and Dutton, 2018). Such tensions inevitably constitute pressures and dilemmas for those who lead. Ellen’s thinking reflects the two ideas about power that were introduced in this week’s introduction. First, she recognises that larger, better resourced and positioned organisations (particularly those in the public sector) have the power to shape Family Time’s future. Second, she begins to think about how she can work through relationships with key players – colleagues in different organisations – to influence the direction of travel of new collaborative partnership arrangements.