Charity leadership in the 2020s

Taking you further into leadership

Charity leadership in the 2020s is NCVO’s new leadership programme for the next generation of non-profit leaders.

The sector is changing and there is ever growing pressure on public trust. We want to ensure that future leaders are supported to develop the skills to shape the evolving culture. We want to ensure that the sector is unique and distinctive while continuing to be effective, entrepreneurial, digitally empowered, open, transparent, value driven and responsible in every aspect of its work.

Date 18–20 June and 21 November 2017
Location Royal Foundation of St Katherine, Limehouse

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Who is the course for?

The purpose of the programme is to support the personal and professional development journey of emerging and existing sector leaders by helping you to develop the skills to deal in the new reality of leading organisations and networks in the next decade.

The programme is designed for those who want to take a considered and deliberate approach to their career and map out their career steps two-to-five years ahead, and who aspire to be sector leaders and champions in the 2020s.

You could be two steps from CEO but showing now that you are an emerging or strategic leader. You might be in charge of a team in a larger organisation. Equally the programme is also suitable for a CEO of up to £1m charity who is running an organisation and wants to advance their skills.


The aim of the programme is to make the transition from management to next-generational leadership easier. It is also an opportunity to retain leadership talent within the sector. The course will have a focus on leadership rather than management. Participants will be supported to work with the tensions and challenges reflected in the model below:


Through the programme learners will gain:

  • deep understanding of the wide social, environmental and economic context of leadership within the new reality of the sector
  • a clearer sense of their own leadership identity and capacity
  • a network for life - lasting relationships with other leaders that enhance their ability to work with different people, in new ways, to solve complex problems.
  • the practical skills and knowledge to enable them to continue their leadership journey.

The programme aims to develop leadership capacity and capital, help you to define yourself as a leader and apply the skills and knowledge that will support you in your leadership journey.

As a result of the programme, we aspire for learners to see themselves as agents of positive change and to develop the capacity to envision a better future for all. Charity Leaders in the 2020s will be able to:

  • define themselves as an effective leadership in your organisation and the sector
  • be entrepreneurial, establish new relationships, groups and networks, and exercise greater influence within the sector
  • be digitally empowered and communicate more effectively with others
  • be open and transparent
  • recognise that the journey is as important as the destination
  • listen more attentively to contrasting opinions
  • negotiate more successfully with others
  • encourage responsibility in every aspect of their work
  • take steps to build the capacities of others.

Course structure

The programme will consist of pre-course work, three face-to-face training days, a leadership project and a webinar.

Pre-course work

Participants will be invited to sample some of the course reading and video resources, reflect on their own leadership and prepare a Pecha Kucha presentation to describe their approach to leadership to other course participants. They will also complete the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and begin to consider what kind of leadership project would be most useful for them to undertake. Participants should start the pre-work work at least two weeks before the course begins.

Days one and two will be held in London in June 2017. They will be residential and consecutive, and will include:

  • defining leadership and management and the challenges facing leaders in the voluntary sector
  • the Leadership Odyssey
  • what we know about management and leadership (research, theory and practice)
  • values and purpose in leadership
  • coaching for managers and leaders
  • setting goals, delegating and motivating a team, managing difficult conversations
  • understanding and building networks
  • action learning, identifying leadership projects to work on

This will be followed by a four-month period during which participants will:

  • work on a real leadership project within their organisation.
  • participate in a webinar/online Q&A session midway through the project delivery stage
  • contribute to a book club, in which they read and provide an online summary of a book on leadership, management or career development for others in the group.

Day three will complete the programme and will take place in November 2017. It will include:

  • reporting back and getting help on leadership projects
  • personal development planning
  • working in coalitions and partnerships: collaboration and negotiation
  • using your networks.


Our approach is:

  • inclusive – building cohorts that reflect the sector and developing the competencies that leaders will need to work in
  • learner focused –reflecting the reality and complexity of people’s day-to-day lives, emphasising the practical application of management and leadership.
  • blended – creating an experiential learning journey that combines different styles and approaches.
  • diverse – drawing on the skills and experience of established leaders from the voluntary sector as well as from business, government and academia.
  • collaborative – co-designing the Programme with the sector so that it addresses real challenges and opportunities and recognises their considerable achievements.
  • holistic – learning through peers and established leaders and real workplace situations.
  • innovative and active, using outdoor learning, walk-and-talk, myth and metaphor, PechaKucha and just-in-time teaching methods to enable participants to absorb practical solutions to their day-to-day management challenges alongside deep and transformative reflection on leadership and the future.

It includes:

  • a range of interventions, including mentoring, residential, Action Learning, workshops, training and an original think-piece shared with the sector that accommodate different learning styles and build on individual strengths
  • tried-and-tested tools for personal reflection and group learning such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and action learning.

Characteristics of good leaders – Kellow Learning framework

Good leadersOld-style leaders
Want to make a difference Do what is good for their career
Envision the future, scan the horizon Focus on doing what they have always done
Challenge their assumptions and beliefs They know best, try to avoid U-turns
Are curious: they listen, observe, ask questions Expect their team to tell them if anything interesting happens
Suspend judgment, explore options before making up their mind Reject ideas that don’t fit their view of the world, take decisions quickly
Are collaborative: they encourage dialogue and involve people in decision-making Speak from a higher level and tell people what to do
Value diversity, seek out people with different perspectives (networkers) More comfortable with people who share the same perspective
Invest time in developing their team, other people They see team members as a threat



The course will start at 3pm on 18 June 2017 and continue until the afternoon of 20 June. Day 3 will take place on the 21 November 2017


  • NCVO Member Organisations: £1,500 (30% saving on full price)
  • Non NCVO Member Organisations: £2,145 (full price)

Please note we do not charge VAT

If your organisation is not an NCVO member, consider joining us and enjoy the discount on this course fee plus access to a wide range of ongoing resources, support and benefits from NCVO

Find out more about NCVO membership.


NCVO is at the forefront of leadership development for the voluntary sector, providing leadership development opportunities for almost 100 years. Our CEO, Sir Stuart Etherington is an Honorary Visiting Professor in Leadership at South Bank University. Karl Wilding, Director of Public Policy and Volunteering, is an Honorary Visiting Fellow at Cass Business School's Centre for Charity Effectiveness. They are both established leadership coaches who stand up for the sector everyday. They are not afraid to challenge the sector from within and have led on high profile campaigns.

NCVO’s research team produce the annual Almanac and Road Ahead analysis. This is instrumental for the sector is in helping shape leaders of the future by giving them the tools and data to help see the new reality.

Current and recent leadership work includes:

Step on Board (since 2013)

The programme enables private sector leaders to take on leadership roles in the voluntary sector as trustees. It provides a tailored training and coaching that builds participants’ negotiation, strategic development, teamwork and leadership skills.

NCVO Leadership Programme (2008–2013)

Enabled 120 leaders of smaller voluntary and community organisations to develop their leadership skills. As a result of attending the programme 78% of participants felt that they were thinking more like a leader; 83% felt that they had more confidence in being the leader they would like to be; and 81% said that they had a better understanding of their leadership strengths.

Leadership 2020 Commission (2010)

NCVO established and hosted the commission to set out recommendations on what needed to be done to inspire and engage a new generation of civil society leaders. NCVO led on strengthening foresight within the sector by enabling infrastructure bodies to coordinate networks of emerging leaders to shape responses to future challenges.

We have a relationship with many current voluntary sector leaders including the ELLA Forums


Edward Kellow

Edward is a highly creative, enthusiastic and outcome orientated facilitator and coach, specialising in leadership, communications, and change. Edward has over twenty years’ experience in learning and development, of which ten working at senior level internationally. While he is passionate about the value of face to face learning, Edward believes that a blended learning approach, making full use of the internet and online learning platforms, is the way to make education more effective, inclusive and sustainable. One of his main goals is to create powerful learning networks that continue to learn and grow beyond the life of a course or programme.

Rebecca Nestor

Rebecca holds a first degree in English Literature from the University of Cambridge, and an MBA from the Open University. She is a member of the Chartered Management Institute and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. She is accredited to use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Team Management Profile, as well as being a Designated Trainer for the Surefoot Effect’s Carbon Conversations, a powerful learning process on sustainable behaviour change in workplaces and communities. In September 2014 she began a two year Masters programme at the Tavistock and Portman Foundation NHS Trust on Consulting and Leading in Organisations: Psychodynamic and Systemic Approaches.

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