I have previously reflected on the dynamics of recruitment of my team. This week I thought it would be fair to turn the camera on myself and expand a little bit on my role as CEO, and the leadership style that best characterises me, particularly as we are about to onboard new people. I hope this will prove insightful for them. I also hope that this introspective piece will resonate with others, who are in a similar position to me, or who are thinking of taking on a leadership role.
It is true that when I got the job at BD Giving in July 2020, there were already a few fundamentals in place despite it being a fairly new organisation. Cameron, the organisation’s sole employee, whom I had already worked with to deliver the Rapid Response Fund, brought with them a quiet but resolute facilitation style, strong administrative skills, and a passion for shifting power. A small and supportive board of trustees, as well as a modest income and an emerging pipeline of projects were also in place. I brought expertise in things like building a brand, writing a strategy, a strong academic background in participatory approaches, as well as relationships with stakeholders, including the local council.
However, there were also a ton of things I had little experience in: things like finance and audit, managing a board and, indeed, Human Resources, which I had not done with much consistency previously. My own career path resembles an ongoing enquiry, a sort of search for truth, which has taught me to develop a vision and think systemically, but I sometimes lack the tools and processes to deliver it. For my colleagues, this translates into wider freedoms to operate and engage in their own enquiry. I am also aware that my management style can be challenging for them at times, particularly for more junior colleagues with less experience or confidence, who may appreciate more structure.
I place a high level of trust in my colleagues because I am convinced that this, more than salary or any perks, is the most compelling reason to turn up and want to do a good job. While our organisational structure remains fairly standard, most important decisions are made deliberatively and the whole team is invited to submit ideas, comment and even disagree if something doesn’t sit well with them. There is a simple reason for this: BD Giving, ultimately, belongs to the local community. It is not Cameron’s or Kate’s or Magie’s and it is certainly not mine.
We’ve all been given a chance to work together, by donors, trustees, circumstances, and the reason we’re sticking with it is because we believe we can make a difference. BD Giving has no purpose or existence without the trusted relationships that it’s made of, without the local community, and I believe interactions between colleagues should be exemplar of this.
Two years into the job, my experience so far has brought me to realise how important it is to work with people who can buy into BD Giving’s values, and who are willing to take risks, learn and grow.
Kate, our fantastic Fundraising Manager who joined last November suggested that what attracted her to BD Giving was that she felt invited to be part of something. For me, being surrounded by trusting, thoughtful and smart colleagues, collaborators, and trustees has been the most rewarding part of the job and has built my confidence as a leader.
BD Giving Notes is a weekly blog aimed at sharing some CEO Geraud de Ville de Goyet’s thoughts on running a social infrastructure charity. Each post focuses on a couple of things we have learnt or done in the previous week; what’s gone well and what didn’t.