I’m convinced diversity drives successful business growth

Authentic leadership is something that I’ve always cherished. I’ve been inspired by those who strive to do good and think of others, before they think of themselves.

I guess that’s why I chose a career in housing and why I stick with it. However, understanding what makes an authentic leader is more difficult to specify.

I’m a new CEO, having just joined Ekaya from Westway Housing Association, where I was Deputy CEO for four years. I learnt a lot from my time at Westway, including their encouragement of staff.

Staff development is very important to me and I am keen to see other promising leaders being given the opportunity to reach their full potential.

I am a great believer in staff participation and engagement, with people being encouraged to share their views, put forward suggested improvements and above all put their passion into their work.

I aim to encourage staff to think beyond themselves about how we deliver services and for them to use their technical expertise to work with customers in improving and expanding our service offer.

I’m a participant in the Leadership 2025 programme, which so far has been insightful, thought provoking and caused me to reflect on how best I can deliver the vision of Ekaya being a ‘go to’ organisation.

The programme is helping me identify and refocus on what I am passionate about, to understand what drives my passion and how best to relay this to the team.

The learning set days, run by Roffey Park, where I learn from and am challenged by my peers is both supportive and constructively critical; as is meeting and working with other senior managers from outside of the sector, in separate strategic learning programme days.

They offer fresh perspectives on what it means to be a leader. My networks and contacts have also widened, as a result and for the benefit of my organisation, I intend to make full use of them.

And speaking of networks, I am fortunate to have the support and encouragement from my mentor Helen Evans, CEO of Network Homes, who is inspiring me to think big and aspirational.

My goal, for Ekaya, its staff and its residents, is to achieve a position of influence that will enable us to inspire and help others to develop as future leaders.

I’m convinced diversity drives successful business growth, and Leadership 2025 is helping me acquire new thinking and strategies that will enable me to be an effective and strategic leader.

It is my belief that the journey of change for securing more BME leaders begins with the support and creation of role models, and it is this belief along with the confidence in my own abilities that motivated me to apply for the programme.

For me, what I’ve already learned is that authentic leadership is about believing in yourself, but perhaps even more importantly believing in and nurturing others.