Monday 19 July 2010

CEO in Crisis Support

I blogged recently about our important role in supporting Chief Executives facing difficult times; whether that is a funding crisis or a difficulty with trustees or members of staff that are getting out of hand. All familiar challenges for a sector Leader!

We monitor all of the work we do here so we can keep a finger on the pulse of the sector and draw out any general lessons where we need to take broader action.

It's one of the reasons we know that governance in our sector is not all that it should be. CEOs experience of Trustees varies tremendously from the nightmare to the dream and every conceivable stop between. It's no wonder that CEOs need the support of ACEVO! Importantly though it enables us to take more general action to promote good governance.

It is obvious recently from the CEO in Crisis calls that there are some clear HR issues that need action and my head of Professional Development, (Julia Richards) based at our ACEVO North office in Leeds is working on how we do that.

Three main points here:

* CEO's seem to be reluctant to raise issues re their contract, terms, performance etc with their Chair, they ( probably correctly) feel that this is too inward looking and perhaps sensitive. However, that has left some in a vulnerable position once 'issues' arise, and it is then too late to deal with their contract/terms/performance. And in bad cases it can lead to a crisis in the chair- CEO relationship.

As ACEVO we need to stress that it is important to get the detail of such matters dealt with early on, when it can be a simpler, easier process - for their security and for the good of the organisation .
* Secondly, we also have some troubling evidence of CEO's not dealing with management issues in their Directors team when problems first arise, which has led to some very difficult and stressful situations.

It is sometimes tempting to ignore the early signs of problems ahead, or to hope they will go away. Usually they do not.

* And thirdly we are seeing a small, but significant increase in calls about mergers. If organisations are to merge then one or both of the CEOs may be redundant. And yet they have to carry though the process. That is a particular stressful time when our help and advice can be invaluable. Indeed essential.

Leadership involves difficult and stressful decisions so it's not surprising we put it off and, fingers crossed, it disappears. Sometimes that might be right. Often it is not. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got as a CEO was to "trust my instinct". It's advice I always give to others. If your gut instinct tells you it's a problem, then sort it!

So we are reviewing how best to hone some general advice to CEOs in these areas of stress and potential difficulty.

Whilst each individual circumstance will differ there are general lessons to be drawn which then feed into the advice we give generally to the sector's CEOs. It is one of the very big advantages of what ACEVO does as a membership body for the sector's Leaders.

Good to be back in the office - regenerated and new ideas! A great holiday but I love work too, especially at ACEVO which I think is a most incredible and wonderful organisation! A delight, as well as an honour to lead. That was very apparent at our summer cocktail party on Thursday at the Gulbenkein Foundation in Hoxton Square. A chance to say thank you to friends and supporters and to our media contacts. As one of the journos said, "No-one else in the sector lets their hair down like ACEVO and lets their staff be seen having fun".

I have boxes of the inevitable Turkish Delight for staff, oh and of course my special present for Filippo of a rock from the site of St Philip's Martyrdom to act as an incentive to good performance!
The team back in ACEVO Towers are still on a high after our incredibly successful Health Conference on Wednesday. Lansley was highly complimentary about us and a number of delegates were falling over themselves to congratulate my Deputy on a superb event which showcased the power, dynamism and strength of our sector. One delegate said they modelled their own events on ACEVO. So a broad round of blog applause to my great staff and my events team led by the super efficient Yemi Adeshiyan. Available for hire I might add!! Though not for stealing! ACEVO Event Management

And finally, it’s great news that the DCLG Communitybuilders Fund is continuing to make investments. The fund, which is managed by ACF and The Social Investment Business, supports local and community organisations, helping them realise their ideas to strengthen and support their neighbourhoods – an idea at the heart of the Big Society agenda. The Fund has already invested in some innovative and effective organisations across the country and is ready to help many more.

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