- Written by Academy Team
Wendy Fleming is the Founder of Financial WorX, a social enterprise based in Aberdeen that aims to make people more money confident by providing access to financial education and information.
We caught up with Wendy during the final day of the Developing Social Entrepreneurs programme in Edinburgh to chat about the impact developing her leadership practice has had on her as an individual and her social enterprise. Previously, Wendy has completed a Pre-Start Leadership programme through Just Enterprise in 2017.
Wendy in action during the final day of Developing Social Entrepreneurs
Wendy, how did it feel taking time out to focus on your learning and development?
Indulgent – I’ve never really taken that amount of “time out” for myself and personal growth. I also felt slightly guilty but that soon faded when I realised just how much I was learning and growing from the programme.
Were there any lightbulb moments for you during your learning experience?
Absolutely – many! The importance of understanding what makes us tick was huge. And if you take time to understand each other, our behaviours, our motivations, our emotional reactions it can transform how a team can work together. Also, that it’s ok to be me and in turn it’s ok to be you, don’t be too quick to judge others behaviour in situations – try to understand first before judging.
What has changed for you since taking part in Developing Social Entrepreneurs?
More self-awareness of how and why I react in certain situations. I’ve also realised the power of silence and the magic that is in active listening. Creating a safe space for people to express ideas/feelings is key to the success of any enterprise. People need to be heard and valued in order to feel part of a team.
Also meeting likeminded people and no longer feeling alone – there are other people out there who feel like me and have the same drive to make a difference.
For years I’ve felt “weird” the odd one out, not driven by personal financial gain but driven to achieve a vision to help others using my passion for financial capability. Up until now I felt it was a pipe dream and it would just remain a hobby. Now I feel it can move from being a hobby to my occupation.
What has changed for Financial WorX since taking part in the programme?
I’ve adopted the PATH process which has given me far more focus. I also listen more and encourage everyone to engage and feel their ideas and opinions are valid and respected. Not all ideas can be adopted but the importance of people voicing their ideas is vital to the success of the organisation.
Why do you think it’s important for social entrepreneurs to take time out and focus on their leadership development?
It’s hugely important that Third Sector organisations are led by people who understand the key aspects of leadership and how they can impact their enterprises.
I believe in Ethical Capitalism – that businesses with a social conscious can play a large part in our economy. Providing jobs and services to the market place and then in turn reinvesting our profits to grow and improve our services, employ more people which means money in the pockets for more families.
I want to see Social Enterprises at the same level as large corporate organisations – leadership excellence as a foundation, passionate and well-paid staff at the core and world class products and services being provided to the market. The profits from these businesses will impact the world for generations to come.
I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to attend this programme and glimpse the possibilities of what a social enterprise could achieve. I now need to make sure I don’t lose that passion and keep moving forward to my goal. One way of making sure that I couldn’t go back was to resign from my job just before the last session. There’s no going back now!
To find out more about Financial WorX and opportunities to get involved, visit their website.
To take the first step in your leadership journey, book your place on our fully-funded Pre-Start Leadership programme in Inverurie on 9 May 2019.