iSE | Developing Strong Leaders for the Third Sector

Investing in leadership is not always a top priority for third sector organisations who often have to focus on where the next pot of money is coming from and the operational aspects of running their social enterprise or charity.

 social enterprise leadership programme social enterprise leadership programme

Yet strong leadership is vital in order to respond to the pressures that many third sector organisations face. It supports the move from firefighting and dealing with the now, to help safeguard for the future. It enables stronger organisations that are better prepared and are able to rise beyond the challenges of running a social business.


iSE’s CEO Sarah Crawley is a firm believer in the strength of good leadership. Having steered iSE through drastic reductions in third sector funding, which saw many infrastructure organisations crumble, Sarah is keen for the third sector to prioritise leadership to sustain the sector as well as share learning with the next generation of social entrepreneurs.


 So why is leadership important?

1. Good leaders are forward-thinking and are therefore better prepared to deliver solutions to problems, creating sustainable, resilient businesses that create impact

2. Leaders are able to plan for external challenges and key drivers of change to future proof their organisation

3. Great leaders inspire teams and develop skills and confidence in the workplace, ensuring a healthy work environment with staff that are valued and engaged

4. Great leadership helps organisations to overcome challenges in an innovative and creative way, ensuring fresh approaches and dynamic solutions to delivering social value

5. Good leaders are ‘do-ers’ and have the ability to put ideas into practice, driving forward solutions to make them happen, resulting in proactive organisations that lead the way



Are you a good leader?

Decision-making – Are you are adept at choosing the right course of action for your business and team? Good leadership is about making decisions that you stand by.

Strategic thinking and visioning – Do you have the ability to plan for the future? Strategic-thinkers are visionary and creative. They are focused on long-term goals and how they can be effectively met.

Communication – Can you clearly describe what you want done and relate it to your team? Great leaders are able to convey their vision so that their team or colleagues are fully on-board.

Time-management – Are you are able to prioritise your workload and deal with tasks and looming deadlines with ease? Great leaders are able to confidently manage their time and support team members in the process.

Strength of character – Do you have confidence and charisma? Strong leaders are typically confident, assertive and personable. While these traits are inherent, confidence and assertiveness can be developed to increase ability to be a good leader.

Listening – Do you listen well? Leaders need to be able to listen and take on the suggestions and ideas of others effectively and in a way that grows and develops those around them.




How to develop your leadership skills

One way of developing your third sector leadership skills is to learn from others through mentoring as well as through direct experience and appraisal from your team.

Another way is to gain leadership skills that support you to refine the qualities required of a good leader.

You can do this through the accredited Social Enterprise Leadership Programme, delivered by iSE in partnership with the Social Enterprise Academy, designed exclusively for leaders of third sector organisations.

This programme is delivered in Birmingham, UK over a six month period, to truly embed organisational change.

It provides an immersive and transformational experience to support both leaders and middle managers of social enterprises and charities to develop the skills required to safeguard their future.

Our next programme begins on the 25th of June and is heavily subsidised through the People’s Postcode Trust.

To discuss the Social Enterprise Leadership Programme in more depth, please contact Sarah Crawely on