An agenda for the Future of the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector in Northern Ireland

May 2018





Being a leader, at whatever level, in our sector is challenging.  Leaders are tasked with both leading social change and leading an organisation, with maintaining independence yet working collaboratively, with remaining people centred but using new technology,  all in an unstable and changing context and often difficult financial circumstances. 34

The paradigm of the strong individual leader focused on sustaining an individual organisation is certainly redundant for the future, if it ever was considered an appropriate model for our sector in the past.  

Leadership in our sector comprises both organisations and individuals with each playing complementary and often overlapping roles.

The leadership challenge for the future is for both individuals and organisations to lead networks and networked organisations as it is these more than anything else that will enable the impacts we are seeking to be accomplished.

This will require new thinking and action and development and resourcing of the right knowledge, skills and behaviours.



What needs to happen

  • We need to take a range of actions – planning, resourcing, training and support to develop sector leadership at all levels and to enable a renewed and more resilient sector. 
  • Organisations need supported to develop and implement strategies and actions around succession for our leadership to be fit for the future  
  • Leadership development must encompass roles for beneficiaries and volunteers – we need to develop our activist leaders from the bottom up
  • We need to consider and develop mechanisms to bring our thinking and action to old and new problems alike and develop our roles of thought leadership
  • Our future impact and success will require leaders and leadership skills capable of leading networks and networked organisations this will take specific investment and support.