The Unleadership Movement: Confident Connecting and Collaborating

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The Unleadership Movement is a growing collaboration of practitioners and scholars from public, private and voluntary sectors. The movement seeks to reflect upon leaderly practices that have been illuminated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Its mission is to establish how this learning can be taken forward by participants to make an impact in their organisations and communities. In this month’s blog we focus on collaboration and connection – exploring how Unleaders make their best contribution to make change both with, and through others. Unleaders don’t seek to achieve followership but seek to engage with others to get the job done, all driven by a strong purpose to do what is right at the time.

We were lucky enough to have a conversation with Rebecca Lovelace, Founder of Building People CIC in January and collaboration was such a theme throughout our conversation we thought we’d share some examples here.  Building People is a community interest company, founded in 2017, bringing people, knowledge and opportunities together to address the challenges of skills, diversity and social value in the built environment sector.

Rebecca describes herself as “Chief Dot Joiner” who didn’t explicitly set out to create Building People. With a growing sense of frustration, she recognised that there was a skills crisis in the UK built environment and a lack of diversity not reflective of UK society. There was no single place where aspiring candidates could find vacancies, work experience, mentoring and career resources and so she had hoped “to irritate and prod and poke enough people to do it”, to take the obvious opportunity. Instead, after being prompted by a colleague – “Why don’t you do it?”, she gave it a go and things just grew. There is currently a network of 45 member organisations working at a grass roots level supporting underrepresented groups.

Rebecca is a great example of an unleader; by connecting openly, collaborating confidently, and teaming up with other organisations her ideas and community initiatives have reached far beyond her initial purpose.

She describes the UK Built Environment sector as fragmented and advocates for a truly holistic, collaborative approach, moving away from focussing on one particular profession or one particular trade. She says she constantly reiterates that she is not duplicating but collaborating, and with this approach people are less scared to join in.

“There is an orbit – people circulating, and we come together. There are many dot joiners. People have particular passions. Having a really inclusive approach avoids that sense of competition, we can share opportunities. All the language and messaging is about doing this together, being inclusive.”

When starting off, unleaders have no intention to secure the commitment of others and no achievement motivation beyond making a difference. We saw this during our conversation with Rebecca. She describes her motivations as reflecting that the world we are in could be so much better, happier and safer if it looked different, and if we had more diverse people designing a built environment and creating innovation from different perspectives.  She says she’d love to fix everything and that she has a habit of trying to make change, just keeping going because she can see ways to make a difference, taking the approach of “What if?” She describes living her dream 24/7, because it feels the right thing to do – creating something unique that doesn’t follow a traditional model.

It was so interesting to hear how Rebecca’s values have driven such a strong desire to collaborate widely and have become a part of Building People’s identity and the way they do the right thing – together.What drives you to collaborate? And what are the implications of such an approach for your leadership practice? How has this worked for you and your organisations? Share your thoughts with us! Carol, Kay, Selen and Hugo @The Unleadership Movement!

LinkedIn: Rebecca Lovelace

LinkedIn: The Unleadership Movement Twitter: @Unleadership_

Podcast Channel: The Unleadership Movement Podcast Instagram: @Unleadership_

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