Developing social leaders and building sector resilience through coaching

In this guest post Robert Laycock explains how coaching can develop resilience and growth within the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector by giving sector leaders space to reflect and explore possibilities.

Those of us who work within the voluntary and community sector experience and witness the pressure on organisations, teams and individuals striving to make a difference. I’m genuinely in awe of the people I meet that drive this work - their talent, resourcefulness, commitment and determination.
These amazing individuals who live, work and volunteer for social change can also, at times, find themselves struggling with the weight of responsibility, feelings of isolation and concerns about burnout. There is also a need to take time out from busy workloads to think strategically - exploring new opportunities and possibilities, at personal, team and organisational levels.
Coaching provides individuals and teams with powerful and purposeful spaces for development by raising awareness, opening up new insight and supporting processes of individual, team and organisational change and transformation. Through coaching we can press pause. Stop and think. Explore pressure points and possibilities. And develop strategies for resilience and growth.
In 2009 coaching was the mechanism for me to achieve successful transition from charity CEO to independent practitioner. In 2013 coaching was instrumental in resetting my professional priorities for the next 3-5 years, opening up a wide range of new opportunities.
One of the many things I love about coaching are its principles, perhaps best expressed by Jenny Rogers[i]:
The client is resourceful
The coach’s role is to develop resourcefulness through skilful questions, challenge and support
Coaching addresses the whole person - past, present and future; work and private lives
The client sets the agenda
The coach and the client are equals
Coaching is about change and action
There is real synergy here, I think, between these principles and the values of our sector, including, importantly, ideas around individual agency.
This love of coaching has led to the development of two initiatives over the last four years focused on training more coaches within the region in order to provide access to high quality, affordable coaching for social leaders.
So far 30 people have undertaken three ILM accredited coach training programmes and we are now excited to be launching a new Coaching Collective dedicated to supporting the development of leaders and managers of not-for-profit organisations across the North East and individuals working independently for social change.
Visit the Yes We Can website to find a coach and information on our next training programme.
For more general information contact
These initiatives have grown out of North East Together: Leaders Network for Social Change and have been co-designed and delivered with Cath Brown in collaboration with VONNE.
About Robert Laycock
Between 1999 and 2011 Robert co-led regional arts charity Helix Arts. Since 2011 he has supported the leadership and organisational development of over 35 not-for-profit organisations. Robert is co-founder of Yes We Can, North East Together: Leaders Network for Social Change and co-ordinator of the Better Governance working group. He is also a board member of Beacon Films and the Comfrey Project.


[i] Jenny Rogers is one of the UK’s most experienced executive coaches with 26 years of successful experience. Her clients include Chief Executives and Directors of some of the UK’s best known organisations. Her book Coaching Skills: The definitive guide to being a coach is now in its fourth edition and is acknowledged internationally as the ‘Bible’ on how to coach successfully.