How leadership development can help tackle inequality and support the public sector

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We’re in conversation with Hilary Harvey, who has recently become a Partner of TPC Leadership UK. In celebration of the move, we recently discussed Hilary’s journey to joining TPC Leadership . Today, we learn more about the insight that journey has given her – particularly into areas that are crying out for greater coaching and leadership development.

With the response to the global pandemic, growing urgency around diversity and inclusion, and the stark realities of a changing climate, the challenges facing businesses are many and complex.

“We’re in a huge transition period for the world,” Hilary says. “The next few years are going to be all about addressing what work looks like, and that means finding leadership that’s not just for profit or short-term benefit.”

Bringing leadership training to new arenas

Since joining TPC Leadership, one of Hilary’s goals has been to make coaching more accessible for community and volunteering organisations. Although coaching and development programmes have become commonplace within the NHS, that’s not always the case across the public sector at large.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily that the sector doesn’t appreciate the power of leadership development,” Hilary says. “I think what’s more true is that the sector outside of health is less experienced in procuring coaching, and I don’t know how much they feel they can prioritise it within their budget.”

Hilary notes that ethical business is another area she is excited to bring more accessible leadership development to.

Compared with their FMCG counterparts, mission-based businesses can often overlook the importance of developing the right skills to lead people in line with the company’s values. The goodwill is there, but not always the level of management needed to bring everyone together.

“It’s about helping businesses be more effective caretakers of the communities they’re affecting,” Hilary says. “It’s crucial that all businesses recognise the role they play in addressing our shared challenges. I would love to help them be more successful in that, both in the way they operate as a business and in how they manage and develop their people.”

Diversity and inclusion is integral to leadership

“Growing up as a woman of mixed cultural heritage, in all of my education and professional work in the UK I’ve been in spaces that are predominantly white,” Hilary says. “It’s something I’ve always been conscious of but never spoken about to people without that shared experience. Instead I’ve tried to mould to the space and let my work speak for itself.”

That’s been the reality in many spheres until now, but the urgency around the conversation in the last few years in particular is changing that, Hilary says. The need to challenge systems that exclude diversity is no longer up for negotiation. In the same way that businesses must recognise the role they play in shaping things for the better, so too must the people within them.

Reverse mentoring programmes, in which senior and junior staff are paired up to mentor each other, are seeing a lot of success in this regard, particularly in the NHS. These programmes support staff to examine the cultures they work in and gain insight from each other’s lived experiences. They also help to train people from a variety of backgrounds in vital leadership and mentoring skills.

“I’m so impressed by how NHS trusts are taking responsibility for how they can work differently,” Hilary says. “It goes beyond just doing diversity or unconscious bias training. It’s about senior staff committing time to working with the junior workforce and learning from their totally different lived experience.”

But when it comes to reverse mentoring and other programmes addressing diversity and inclusion, they have to be led by diversity as well. It’s the only way to avoid self-censoring and ensure authentic, beneficial conversations between the groups.

“It’s got to be someone who’s had a similar lived experience, otherwise you just don’t have the credibility” Hilary says. “What BAME staff will say to me is massively different to what they’ll tell senior staff, who are largely white and English, because they think I’ve had a similar experience and won’t judge them for what they say.”

Shaping the future of TPC Leadership

There’s no denying there are tough challenges ahead for businesses and organisations. That means getting the right leadership at the right levels is going to be essential.

And as Partner, Hilary and her unique insights are going to play a significant part in steering how TPC Leadership can address those challenges.

“For me, I would like us to be quite provocative,” Hilary says. “TPC Leadership needs to be really cutting-edge in how we can most have an impact. As a global company, we cover enough of the world to see what the reality is on the ground and what leadership is needed.”

Looking for leadership development or consultancy? Get in touch with us to find out how we can help.

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