Essential Skills for Leading Change Repository

Introductory Learning Material

Programme Overview

This short video introduces the programme overall, explaining the purpose, giving an overview of the full curriculum, explaining how the peer-led sessions will work and setting out how we will learn together.

Theme A: The foundations of systems leadership

This theme is about exploring what it means to think through a systems lens, and to understand the particular system you are trying to influence; the mindsets and approaches suited to exercising leadership in this context; and your role in leading change.

Module 1  – Thinking in systems video

This module lays the foundations for system leadership. It asks: What are systems? What is systems change? How should we engage with complex challenges? What do we mean by systems leadership? We are joined by Jason Fergus, Director of Active Essex, about why is increasing levels of physical activity a system challenge, and the role he and his team have played in addressing it in Essex.

Module 2 – Your role in leading change video

This module is to enable you to gain a deeper understanding of your role within the system you are seeking to change. It asks: What is the difference between the persons you are and the role you play? How does your role affect how you act? How does your role give you authority you can use to exercise leadership? And how can you exercise leadership beyond your authority? We are joined by Jo Turton, Chief Fire Officer for Essex, who shares her insights about how she has combined the formal authority she was given through her title with the informal authority she has built by modelling the values she believes in.

Additional Resources

Module 3 – Understanding your system

This module helps you to gain an understanding of the system you are seeking to change. It asks: What do I need to know about the system to be ready to think about action? How can I broaden my view of the system? What types of patterns and trends am I looking for? How can I work out where to focus? And how much mapping is enough mapping? We are joined by Damien Smith and George Cull, both heads of development at North Yorkshire Sport. They share insights about how they have acted beyond their authority to create change across a complex local system, focusing on the importance of strengthening relationships and cultivating advocates for their work.

Chris Boardman compares cycling in Holland and Britain

Theme B: Becoming a system activist

This theme is about developing the skills and behaviours you need to become more effective in creating systemic change.

Module 4 – Skills and behaviours for systems leadership

This module provides an overview of the repertoire of skills for systems leadership, including relationship building and empathy; understanding biases, valuing difference and living with disagreement; storytelling and narrative development; facilitating change conversations; and influencing and negotiating.

Module 4 skills session 1 – relationship building & developing empathy

Module 4 skills session 2 – Practice and reflection Understanding biases; valuing difference

Module 4 skills session 3 – Storytelling; change conversations; influencing

An example of how you can combine a story of self, us and now to mobilise people to action. Listen for the moments of challenge, choice, outcome; for how he uses details to make it real; and for the values he speaks to in himself and in the crowd, and how he has a clear call to action at the end.

Theme C: Building collaborative capacity and taking collaborative action

Systems leadership is a team game. With this in mind, in this theme we will shift our focus from the personal towards the organisational and systemic, and understand what is needed to take sustained collaborative action.

Module 5: Building collaborative capacity

This module focuses on the importance of collaboration to systems change. It asks: What enables collaboration? What inhibits it? And what is needed to sustain collaborative efforts over time? We are joined by Hayley Lever, CEO of GreaterSport and Executive Lead for GM Moving who talks from her experience about the conditions for collaboration that have been built in Greater Manchester and those that are still developing and reflects on her personal experience of mobilising others through her work.

Module 6: Partnering with communities, partnering across difference

This module provides a grounding in how to work well with communities. It asks: Why is it important to your mission to engage everyone? What tools do you have for engaging people and how to choose them? Why is it important to pay attention to power? And why is it good to build on what’s strong – as well as change what’s wrong? We are joined by Sarah Gorman, CEO of Edberts House in Gateshead. She shares insights on how she has mobilised the power in her community to create change, the importance of relationships and relational work, and her own challenges of leading change.