Doing a programme like the SEP takes a lot of time and energy, which encourages you to take a step back and reflect on who you are and whether you’re in the right place. It gave me more clarity on how I can add value to my organisation and the role I have. I think you benefit the most from being really open to your own development, and being vulnerable and spending a lot of time on self-reflection. Doing the SEP is all about having an open mind and continuing to learn. I am sure that a number of the conversations we had will stay with me for a long time. I don’t see it as a programme I completed last year and that’s that; a lot of these things will be ones that I go back to and continue to reflect on and use.
Many of us don’t reflect on how we come across to others, so we don’t give them the tools to be able to work with us effectively. Working in a multicultural organisation as I do, I’ve questioned what being Scandinavian and working with people from different cultures means for my approach to leadership, in my expectations, and in my communication. I’ve learned to be clearer to other people about who I am, what to expect and how we can work together successfully. I also immediately took on a lot of the tools I learned about my own leadership during the SEP. One of the long-term benefits of the programme is that it’s enabled me to define what I’m like as a leader much more clearly, which will help both myself and the people I work with to make the most out of my experiences.
The first week of the programme was all about who you are as a leader, with a lot of exercises and peer feedback, so I quickly gained a much better understanding of myself. Some of my strengths as a leader are that I’m transparent and inclusive. As someone who leads a federation of independent entities, one of my core strengths is my ability to bring people together. I also come into this leadership role with a lot of credibility; I’ve done this type of work for most of my life, having been a child and youth activist throughout my upbringing. I am absolutely committed to transforming Save the Children International as an organisation, and I am a person who really likes new challenges. I’m not afraid of change; I think it’s something that is needed. As a leader, I know that I’m capable of taking this organisation into its next phase.
In terms of leadership, the programme also helped me to reflect on my strengths, as well as the areas of improvement that I need to address in order to be more effective. The programme exposed me to a lot of challenging conversations and new ideas and new ways of thinking. This helped me understand which areas of myself to invest in, which will make me a more complete leader as I take this on and learn from my own experiences, as well as the experiences of others.
The programme has made me aware of the need for focusing more on the horizon, and spending less time on the here and now. Most of us spend a lot of time focusing on what’s next in the short- and mid-term, but we don’t dedicate enough time to thinking about the longer-term challenges that we’re facing. Another long-term benefit of the programme is that it will help me to be a more reflective leader. I think that was a wake-up call for many of us in the programme, and it’s a perspective that I’ll take with me for a long time. Of course, as CEO I need to be on top of the day-to-day business and what we do as an organisation, but more importantly I need to focus on a vision for the future, and making sure we are moving towards it.
The programme has also had an impact on me personally as well as professionally, especially with regards to the peer network and peer learning. I’ve taken away a lot of great things from that. I’ve also learned more about myself and widened my perspectives; I see these as long-term reflections, I’m always going back to my notes and making sure I stay connected to what I learned during the programme.