Carol Cunningham manages the YWCA Glasgow Centre, which includes the things that people don’t ‘see’, like the development of strong working relationships with other organisations and ensuring that what they do is of a high standard. She attended our Just Enterprise Leading Growth for Senior Leaders programme in 2014-15 www.ywcascotland.org
Carol is the Coordinator at the YWCA Centre in Glasgow where women from all backgrounds access self-development programmes that inspire them to lead change.
After years working as a volunteer coordinating youth development activities for a junior football club, Carol gained experience of every aspect of running a community organisation.
When Carol had to assist YWCA Glasgow through major changes, it was one of the most testing times she has experienced as a leader.
“It was a big transition for us. We were transferring our services to become part of YWCA Scotland and part of this was downsizing to a different building and working more on an outreach model. It was a scary time in many ways. But a positive came out of it. We took the chance to focus on developing our training and piloted a new programme. Now we are far stronger and more sustainable.”
When Carol signed up for the programme it was at a time of change. “We were still developing the new course and we were right in the thick of it. At first I was a bit apprehensive as I’d never done training that involved really taking a look at me.”
Carol always knew she had a considered approach at work. On the course she discovered that she was 100% a reflector. “Turns out I am the world’s biggest reflector! It made me wonder if I expected the people I work with to be the same, however having been on the course it helped me to consider what their learning style was and consider their views to develop our services as a team.”
"I wanted to take back what I learned on the course and my team were really excited by it.”
Learning more about different leadership styles helped Carol to look at her own style and the styles in her team with a different perspective. “When I was putting the new programme together I looked at the people in the team and their capabilities. We have some that are quiet and others suited to doing outreach work. At the end of that process I realised I had a really good balance in the team.”
For Carol, one of the highlights was the group dynamic and peer support. “A big plus was that we were all able to talk so freely. We were at a point where we were living a big transition in the organisation and at first morale in the team was a bit low. I wanted to take back what I learned on the programme and my team were really excited by it.”
Carol realised that everyone in the organization would benefit from similar training and a two-day programme on facilitation skills was developed and delivered by the Academy for all YWCA Scotland staff. “The course was informative but relaxed and gave everyone the chance to benefit from an alternative style of learning.”
“I am more tolerant with myself. Before I used to get anxious if things were not done in the right timescale. We used to hardly take a tea break but now I insist we take one. There is a different way of working in here now. A different mind-set.”
Since completing the programme, Carol has made a few changes and the impact is tangible. Now she feels comfortable taking a step back and that has directly increased productivity.
“I am more tolerant with myself. Before I used to get anxious if things were not done in the right timescale. We used to hardly take a tea break but now I insist we take one. There is a different way of working in here now. A different mindset.”
Instead of the expectation to be constantly busy Carol says she takes care of herself. And it helps her to be more responsive to others. “I learned how to be calm. And it helps me figure others out and adapt to their way of working. I find that gets better results.”
“I was toying with the idea of letting some of the tutors take on a bit of my workload but always fell back on the idea it was just quicker to do it myself. On the programme, I learned it made sense to give it a go. It worked out great. We got their knowledge and mine so ended up with a better product.”
Now Carol says she is not apprehensive of change. She embraces it. “Before I was almost worried that things wouldn’t work out because there was so much change. The challenge for me is to keep momentum going. Now I don’t let myself get worked up. I take a step back, focus on what I am doing and at times I even say no!”
“I recommend the course to any leader from any sector. It is a whole new way of learning.”