Welcome to Leadership Worth Sharing, a podcast in which ACEVO chief executive Vicky Browning talks to civil society CEOs about their careers, their experiences and what leadership means to them.
In the first episode of 2020, Vicky speaks to Aleema Shivji, executive director at Humanity & Inclusion. Aleema describes her career journey from physiotherapist to charity chief exec, shares her experience of navigating the shift from the operational to the strategic, and reveals how home-made banana bread holds the key to inclusion in the workplace.
Scroll down for the full transcription of the episode.
I find the leadership style question really challenging sometimes because it also depends… You’ve got your core style, but it has to depend on who’s in front of you and what they need from you.Aleema Shivji
Vicky Browning [00:00:00] Hi, I’m Vicky Browning chief executive of ACEVO, the network for charity and civil society leaders. Welcome to Leadership worth sharing, a podcast in which I talk to civil society chief execs about their careers, their experiences and what leadership means to them.
In the first episode of 2020, I’m speaking to Aleema Shivji, executive director at Humanity & Inclusion. Aleema describes her career journey from physiotherapist to charity chief exec, shares her experience of navigating the shift from the operational to the strategic, and reveals how home-made banana bread holds the key to inclusion in the workplace.
I’m here with Aleema Shivji who is executive director of Humanity & Inclusion UK. That is your job title, isn’t it?
Aleema Shivji [00:00:04] Yes.
Vicky Browning [00:00:04] And I’m really happy to have you with us on the podcast. Thank you very much for joining us today. So looking at your background, you came from the world of physiotherapy. What’s brought you into our sector and specifically into Humanity & Inclusion?
Aleema Shivji [00:00:19] Good question. So, I mean, I was brought up in a family that looked internationally and very much focussed on not for profit causes all through my young years, whether it was fundraising for, you know, building wells in Africa or whether it was writing letters for Amnesty or volunteer in my local hospital. So I think working in sort of volunteering the not for profit sector and recognition of this wider world that we live in and inequalities was always part of my upbringing. My parents are East African, East African, Asian that had migrated to Canada. So very much that sort of global outlook. But I guess I never saw any of that as a career really. It was sort of this thing I did that I loved.
Aleema Shivji [00:00:54] But then there was the job side of things and I qualified as a physio. I travelled. I qualified in Canada. I’m Canadian and worked in Australia, New Zealand and kind of realised there was a hole somewhere. Something was missing. And so I realised I think that hole you know, it was an international shaped hole and got this great opportunity to go to Bangladesh to volunteer using my physio skills. In one of their rehab centres, but also in some of their education projects. I jumped on it. And while I was out there, met the people from what was at the time known as Handicap International and realised this could be a really good fit because a lot of people looked at me and said, well, you’re a physio. How, you know, what are you going to do in international development? We don’t need physios, you know, we’re worried about much more important things than back injuries and sports injuries and things. And people didn’t really understand the scope of what physio actually is. And so I started talking to the people at HI and got an opportunity to go with them to Sri Lanka. And this was just after the tsunami back in 2005. And so I was there working as a therapist, but also as a project manager, training local female health workers on how to support people with disabilities amongst the communities that they were working in, in areas that were affected by both the tsunami in the conflict. And it just sort of went from there. Realising that this was a good fit, particularly that stage of my career. I was using my skills, but in a very different way. I mean, in South Sudan, I was training nurses on how to manage gunshot wounds because there was absolutely no rehabilitation in the country and a lot of intertribal fighting where I was… And went from role to role and then in 2012 took on the role as the chief exec here in the UK.
Vicky Browning [00:02:28] And just tell me about Humanity & Inclusion. Because it’s a charity that works in disasters and works with survivors of disaster, refugees, but particularly working with people with disabilities. Is that right?
Aleema Shivji [00:02:41] That’s right. So we support people with disabilities, but also vulnerable people that might be vulnerable for different reasons, that are affected by conflicts, disasters, poverty and exclusion. We’re a network, so the whole network as a whole works in around 60 countries around the world. And our real focus is to help people achieve their rights and live in dignity. That’s sort of why we exist, I suppose. And we do that in lots of different ways. We provide individualised support to people. So helping children go to school, providing rehabilitation services, providing humanitarian relief. But we also work on systems change. How do you change systems? How do you change attitudes? How do we make the health services more inclusive? How do we make an election process more inclusive? And we work with others to make their programmes, their work inclusive, or whether that’s a national government and helping them to develop a national policy on disability or whether that’s working with a humanitarian relief provider to make sure that when they are providing, let’s say, water and sanitation services to refugees, they are making sure they’re not leaving people disabilities behind.
Vicky Browning [00:03:40] And is that mostly international? Or do you have UK programmes as well?
Aleema Shivji [00:03:44] So it’s all international. We do have a really unique partnership, however, with the UK government. The Department for International Development, one of their programmes is the emergency medical team, which is essentially the UK government’s response to disasters when there’s a need for medical and surgical intervention and we’re one of their core partners. So the domestic part of it is that we train people from the NHS. Our particular expertise is training the physios and the occupational therapists so that they can then deploy overseas. That means the programme has access to the phenomenal expertise of the UK, but also these therapists come back with incredible experiences that they bring back into the NHS.
Vicky Browning [00:04:19] Just looking at the values that drive or underpin the work of Humanity & Inclusion and what they articulated is humanity, inclusion, commitment and integrity. Kind of coming to you then as a leader – what do those words mean to you in terms of the way you practice your leadership?
Aleema Shivji [00:04:36] Really good question. I mean, I think, first of all, it’s really important we have our own values and that we also align with the values of the organisation. What I find really interesting with our values and we articulated them actually not that long ago, it was part of a global rebrand process that my team and I fed into. Inclusion is always been one of my personal values. I’ve always sort of believed that it’s really important that everybody is included in society. And whether that’s a person with disability or whether that’s a disadvantaged child or, you know, that’s always been something important to me, so that’s probably the easiest one that I resonate with. Because it can be quite specific to the organisation. And for me, how I practice that is looking at how do you create an inclusive environment in the workplace. One of the big pieces of work that I fed into in the last couple of years is organisation-wide. We structured our thinking around inclusion into a disability, gender and age policy, identifying that of the various characteristics of exclusion, those are three that we felt were really important in everything we did. They interacted with many other factors as well, but this was really important. So feeding into that. And now what I’m trying to do is in my own team and look at how do you put that in practice? How do we put this policy in practice? How do we recruit? How do we retain? How do we develop? How do we empower people of different backgrounds, of different experiences, of different abilities, of different ages? So that’s part of it. But I also think for me, inclusion is about drawing out different perspectives and making sure everybody’s voice is heard. And I actually, I think, cuts across integrity and humanity as well for me, because it’s about respecting people’s opinions. It’s about recognising there are different views. So, for example, one of things I introduced maybe a year ago was team cake. So I make a cake. I’m not a very good cake baker, but I make a cake. I try something different. Most times. I often get asked for banana bread. Maybe that should be a signal. Have a small group of the team in my office with me. We eat cake. We talk.
Vicky Browning [00:06:30] What’s your total staff?
Aleema Shivji [00:06:32] So we’re about twenty-five.
Vicky Browning [00:06:33] Ok. So you just make a cake for a few… four or five people.
Aleema Shivji [00:06:38] Yes. And we chat.
Vicky Browning [00:06:38] “How’s it going with you?”.
Aleema Shivji [00:06:39] Yeah. And sometimes I’ll have questions, you know, things that I’m grappling with and sometimes it’ll be open and it’ll go in the direction it goes in. So I’ve had fascinating conversations with team members about how do we promote career development in such a small team. Which is a huge challenge. We’re a very big organisation. And for those that want to go overseas, there are huge opportunities within HI. We’ve just actually had a colleague of ours head off to Iraq to work on our programme there. But if you want to stay in London, there are challenges. So how do we work through that? I’ve had some great insight into really simple things like: can we just get the walls we painted? So I think it’s about creating… For me, it’s about creating spaces where people’s voices are respected, where they’re heard. And I think for me, that’s about integrity, inclusion and humanity altogether.
Vicky Browning [00:07:23] Because I do that. I’ve just introduced it actually, I do a one to one chat with each member, we only got 15 at ACEVO. So I’ve gone out for a cup of tea. I didn’t make any cake because I’m much, much lazier than you are. But we’ve got a cup of tea and if they’re very lucky they might get a biscuit. And ask, just, so, you know, just kind of check in things. And sometimes it’s really quite deep and sometimes it’s like: it’s a bit cold in the office. Can we have another heater? And I just think, at any point you can tell me about the heater.
Aleema Shivji [00:07:49] Yeah.
Vicky Browning [00:07:50] But actually you have to make those opportunities for people to be able to raise things, even if it is you know, it’s a bit chilly, down to, I’m conflicted about my career progression or whatever.
Aleema Shivji [00:08:01] And I think one of things that’s been interesting with the team growing is I’ve also… Partly because it’s been growing and partly because I see things like staff engagement as a collective responsibility. We’re all responsible for feeling good at and about work, but we’ve tried and tested new things. So, for example, we have a group that works on staff engagement. We now have staff reps. We have a group, a team of people working on inclusion in the workplace. But it means that I have less interaction with people that aren’t my direct report. So actually putting this in place has been really valuable to still get perspectives. From my perspective and I think for others is they still have access to me. I mean I’m always there anyway, but you know…
Vicky Browning [00:08:38] Yeah, I know. That’s the thing, when you become chief exec you just sort of say well it’s me and anybody can talk to me any time and you don’t always recognise the barriers other people put up or that you are invisibly putting up whatever. So you need to kind of actively have that kind of opportunity for interaction and not just assume that’s going to happen.
Vicky Browning [00:08:57] And just in terms of people with disability within the organisation… You talked about inclusivity but you have opportunity within the organisation for people of all different ages, disability… So you mix it all in.
Aleema Shivji [00:09:08] We do. And I think my take on diversity and you know, this is me, a woman, a Canadian, also a Brit, a Muslim, an ethnic minority, you know, if you like, I tick a lot of boxes, but that’s not how I see it. I think how I see it is actually it’s all about how these things interact, but also how relevant they are. I think for the organisation. And so for me, diversity is actually coming back to maybe the values of the organisation. Maybe it’s the mission and the vision and saying, well, actually, what are we trying to achieve and therefore what diversity will enable us to do that. So, for example, you know, we as I mentioned, we’ve got this disability, gender and age policy. So we know those are three things that are really important to us. But what’s also important to us is lived experience. So, for example, we’ve got a trustee that we recruited last year who was a child refugee. And so she has a lived experience from her childhood of what it’s like to be some of the people we seek to serve. And so I think it’s really about every organisation looking at that saying, OK, we can’t do everything. We need to do what makes sense for us. And so for us, these are the areas we’re focussing on. As a wider organisation we’ve launched a programme called Be Inclusive, which is recognizing that actually we do great work on disability inclusion in our programmes. It’s what we’re known for.
Aleema Shivji [00:10:24] You know, every single programme advises… Focuses on disability in some way or another. But we could always be doing more in the workplace. And that’s the area we’ve kind of left behind. And so while we’ve got some great examples and great pockets, we’ve there are things that we can do to improve. So we’ve been testing things. We’ve been looking at our recruitment processes, trying to recruit in different ways, in different places, thinking about how we set up the interview process and then the kind of support you provide to individuals as well in the workplace. But it’s not easy and you are ultimately dependent on who applies. I mean, you have to absolutely do everything you can to get to the right networks. And, you know, one of the things we’re testing a lot more lately, that’s something I’ve always done on when I was working overseas is, you know, reaching out to disabled persons’ organisations and organisations that focus specifically on recruitment of people with disabilities, so that you’re getting to the right market if you like. But it’s not easy.
Vicky Browning [00:11:19] Just sort of taking back about you, your career. You were saying that you started off as a physio working within these organisations and you kind of moved up. I think you were a country director in Haiti. And that was after the earthquake in 2010. And you talked about being in Sudan and in Sri Lanka after the tsunami. You’ve been in a lot of places where devastating things are happening around you. I mean, I appreciate they are not necessarily happening to you. You were there, but it must be tough operating in that environment. Well, how do you protect your own resilience? How do you build resilience to be able to kind of keep that professionalism and keep things going?
Aleema Shivji [00:11:57] So if I look back to those years, I think my biggest source of inspiration, if you like, for resilience is actually the people that are affected by the crises. I mean, Haiti, you mentioned, it’s 10 years on from that earthquake. And I was just reflecting back on it not that long ago, actually. And, you know, I learnt a lot from the Haitian people, you know, they may not have been hit by a big earthquake before but they’ve definitely hit almost every single year with hurricanes. You know, it’s a country that’s had lots of political struggles. They’ve had their fair share and more of difficulties. And yet the people have this amazing resilience. And I’ve seen in other places I’ve seen that in Palestine where there’s bombing regularly, I’ve seen that in South Sudan, where the intertribal fighting is endless. And then on top of that, the wider conflict. And I think I learn a lot from the people. I think there’s also an element of recognizing that you are doing something useful. And in a humanitarian crisis, you see it a little bit faster. You know, when you’re trying to make change on inclusive practices in the workplace, that’s something that takes time before you start to see results. Whereas when you’re working on humanitarian response, you do see it a bit quicker and that gives you a bit of motivation. And then I think there’s an element of actually recognizing, okay, I’m in the middle of this disaster context, but I still need to take care of myself and you do it in different ways. You know, the music scene in Haiti is amazing. And very, very quickly, it started up again after the earthquake. And so take an evening off and you go listen to these amazing Haitian musicians and you not only connect with the culture and the people, but you give yourself a break. Pakistan, the food, I mean, the food was amazing and going to fantastic local restaurants and discovering different foods. And I think it’s really important that even in the middle of a disaster to take some time for yourself.
Vicky Browning [00:13:34] Does that stay with you? So, you know, when you are back here and we have first world problems and genuine situations where we feel stress or under pressure, you can still draw on that.
Aleema Shivji [00:13:47] It does, I think. I think what I learned from working in disasters, one of the many things I learned was the importance of reinforcing your resilience. And for me today, yeah, that stays with me. I mean, I know when things get really hectic and really stressful, I need to take a break and go outside and be in nature. For me, nature is my solace. So I live on the beach in Brighton. You will often see me on my paddleboard or in my kayak or in the sea, you know, or going for a walk on the beach or just, you know, getting out and making sure I’m having that break. And not only does it just sort of clear your mind, but actually I find most of my best ideas have come to me when I’ve been out in the middle of the sea or hiking up a mountain or doing something in nature. For me that’s my place. Everybody’s got their solace. And I think for me, that’s always stayed with me.
Aleema Shivji [00:14:30] And I think transitioning to this role has become even more important, because the pressures, you know, they’re not the same. The workload is not the same. You need to find that work life balance, something I worked really hard at when I transitioned into this role.
Vicky Browning [00:14:44] Thinking a little bit about that transition. So you were country director, you became executive director. They are very different types of roles. They’re very different levels of stress and pressure. And they’re very different forms of responsibility, the responsibility of being on the frontline and working with people in an immediate and difficult situation is slightly different from running an organisation. How did you adapt? How did you make the shift? Was it tricky or did you kind of slip into it nice and easy?
Aleema Shivji [00:15:14] I’d be lying if I said it I slipped into it. I mean, I think anyways, when you step into a chief exec role, it’s a challenge. But definitely coming from a very operational role, even if it was strategic, operational, to this role was a big transition. I think there’s a few things that helped me. I think one actually having already been in the same organisation was really valuable because I understood the organisation. So that made it a bit easier to step into the role. I also was able to draw on my first experience and knowledge of the impact that we make. And so sort of grounding myself, but also grounding the team. I mean, I have a lot of fundraisers in my office and they’re often two steps removed from the work. Sometimes three. And being able to sort of give them a real sense of context and a sense of purpose, why we’re doing things. I think I actually was able to draw on the operational side. Then I think actually it was about shifting things inside my own head, realizing I’m in a really different role. And that was a transition that took some time. I was very lucky early on in my time to have an amazing coach. And Katherine, if you’re listening, thank you. Katherine was amazing. And we had a coaching relationship for a few years and we still stay in touch. And she was hugely valuable and just helping me to reset to really think about my values in action. We talked about that a little bit, what I’m trying to achieve, where my weaknesses are, what I need to be working on. It was a really just having that space away from the day to day to really think and to have somebody challenging you. But somebody that you’ve asked, invited in to challenge you was hugely valuable. So that definitely helped me with that transition. And I highly recommend having… I think it’s really important when you’re in a chief exec type role to be able to have someone to go because you don’t always have… People often say it’s lonely at the top. But I guess there’s a big caveat for me is because we are a network. So I was also really lucky. I still am really lucky that I’ve got seven peers that do the same job I do in different parts of the world, plus a whole network of colleagues around the world. So learning from others, not being afraid to ask questions. And I remember there was a book that really sort of helped me think about my leadership differently because it’s also about, you know, when you’re managing in a humanitarian crisis, you are managing to deliverables in a way, you sort of managing for action. And sometimes you’re going very quickly. And whereas in this role, I really needed to take that step back and take time. And remember, there’s a great book I read, it was called Time to Think, you know, trying to use some of those practices in the workplace and constantly giving myself space to think and to read. And I had some interesting advice very early on when I transitioned into this role. It’s actually from one of our funders. They come into the office every few months, six months or so to talk about a big program, their funding of ours. And one of the ladies who was on the team, she was a long distance commuter. She’d just retired. So she was sort of doing just this. She was advising this foundation. And she said the thing she missed the most about working full time was actually her commute because she found that that commute… Because it was such a distinct period in her day everyday. She used that for reflection time. She used that for reading. I’m not successful everyday, but I certainly try to do the same. I’ve got a long commute.
Vicky Browning [00:18:17] She wasn’t on the central line. I’ve got to tell you!
Aleema Shivji [00:18:21] She was like me. Long distance train. Get a seat. You know, you could actually really spend time reflecting and thinking, you know, writing in a journal, reading insightful documents, stories or books or, you know, really giving yourself that space. And I suppose the other thing is I have what I consider my personal board. So obviously there is my governance boards and I bounce ideas off of them. Absolutely. But I also have my personal board, which is sort of a set of trusted friends, advisers from different sectors, different perspectives. You always know you can pick up the phone or whatsapp. Not all of them are in the UK, and pass the problem by them, somebody will hold you accountable for what you said you were going to do. And it’s really helpful.
Vicky Browning [00:18:59] And they do the same with you presumably.
Aleema Shivji [00:19:00] Yeah. Yeah. So I’ve got one friend in this group. They don’t know each other. One of my friends. We have a standing date once a month and we just check in with each other how we’re progressing on our goals.
Vicky Browning [00:19:10] That’s fantastic.
Aleema Shivji [00:19:11] Yeah.
Vicky Browning [00:19:11] You are also a member of ACEVO, of course!
Aleema Shivji [00:19:13] I am, absolutely!
Vicky Browning [00:19:15] Just want to get back to something you said right in the beginning about your… you coming into our sector and you trained as physio and you couldn’t see how, you know…. It didn’t, It didn’t cross your mind. What do we need to do differently in our sector to make young people think this is for them?
Aleema Shivji [00:19:36] Really good question. Well, first, I think there’s two parts of the problem I faced. Part of it was cultural. I come from sort of your typical South Asian cultural background, which is, you know, a profession is dental doctors, lawyer, doctor, lawyer, accountants. I think that’s evolved since I was a kid. But certainly that was part of my pressure. So I think it’s actually about really getting to young people young. And helping them open their minds about what else they could be doing. But I think when you’re also up against possible cultural barriers, which still exist in a lot of cultures, it’s about getting to the parents. I mean, I remember getting called in… So I grew up in Edmonton, the one in Canada, not the one up the road from here. And I got asked, coming back from one of my overseas trips, to come and talk to a bunch of young people about what I’ve been doing in my career, my pathway. And I remember there being some resistance from the parents, actually, because they were like, well, this isn’t really a career and my child needs to go to university and they need to do this and they need to become this career and have this amount of money. And you never tried to work against that resistance. So realizing that actually sometimes it’s not even the young person who might not have that sense of what’s out there, but it might also be their family circle or their community circle which might be influencing that. So I think there’s things we can do to really expose young people and their families to the diversity of careers and options available to them.
Vicky Browning [00:20:56] The number of people I’ve heard, in our sector, who say, still their parents every now and again will say: When are you gonna get a proper job? So I think it’s definitely out there, isn’t it? And there’s something there about… for you about modelling, role modelling and sharing your own experience and your own story that you’ve found has been helpful to others.
Aleema Shivji [00:21:16] Absolutely. One of things I tried to do and maybe it’s easier because we’re a small team, but whenever we have an internal volunteer, I always have my door open to have a coffee with them. And a piece cake, sometimes. You know, about the career, and a number of people have done that with. It’s really interesting because I learn a lot from them as well. But it gives them a unique perspective of where their career can go. And I really try to do that on a regular basis with young people.
Vicky Browning [00:21:38] And in terms of your own leadership. How would you describe your leadership style? What sort of a leader you are? Perhaps I should say how would your team describe your leadership style?
Aleema Shivji [00:21:51] I have been told by team members and past team members that inspiring is something that comes to mind very often, which is really nice and able to sort of see a strategic vision. And interestingly, a few years ago, I went on this amazing leadership course called Lead Like a River. It was in Morocco. But what was most incredible about it was… It was sort of a holistic leadership programme. So not just about your workplace, but really you leading yourself as an individual. And they introduced this sort of leadership model of nine leadership archetypes. It was really deep. And I mean, it culminated in a twelve-hour fast in the desert, in the mountains, you’re all by yourself on a mountain for 12 hours, fasting, really thinking. I mean, it was really…
Vicky Browning [00:22:35] And the nine aspects then….
Aleema Shivji [00:22:37] So, for example, you’ve got everything from sort of being an emperor to being an alchemist to being a visionary, to being a shepherd, to being a guru. So it’s kind of like embodying the different characteristics of leadership across different archetypes, I guess. And the three that kind of, I suppose, resonate the most with me and I guess to some of the feedback team members give me is visionary, which is somebody who’s inspiring and encouraging and strategic, orator which is about communication and guru, which is about being reflective, developing people, sharing your wisdom. And I think those are the sort of the three that come to me. I think also my reflection on leadership is that I find the leadership style question really challenging sometimes because it also depends… You’ve got your core style, but it has to depend on who’s in front of you and what they need from you. And I think that that’s something I’ve been much more appreciative of in the last few years of how important it is to adapt your leadership style to the person in front of you if you want to achieve the best benefit to both of you. I think what I like in the archetypes approach is that… It’s, you know, sometimes people say, oh, well, a dominating leader is bad and an inspiring leader is good. I think what’s interesting with the archetypes is that in every single archetype, there’s a spectrum, you know, an orator can be engaging, which is a good thing. But if they’re not careful, they can be overpowering, which is a bad thing. So it’s about, again, managing, you know, balancing how you embody your leadership.
Vicky Browning [00:23:53] Just go back to that sense of being… Adapting your style or your approach, depending on who you talk to, how does that tie in with that sense of authenticity and being the real you?
Aleema Shivji [00:24:06] I think your fundamental values don’t change. So I know that for me, as I mentioned earlier, inclusion is a really, really big piece. So that will always sit there with me. But if I think about an example, you know, I’m in the middle of doing some interviews for a new team member. And one of the person that I was interviewing said to me, you know, I’m an analytical type and therefore, you know, we might have a meeting. I might agree with you, but then I might sit on the bus and think, I’m actually not sure I agree anymore now that I’ve thought about it. This, this, this, this, and this and I want to come back and challenge you. And I think it’s actually about understanding that about somebody and saying, OK, so I’m an inclusive leader. I want to make sure that your voice is heard. I know that I can’t throw something massive at you and expect you to respond in the middle of a leadership team meeting. So let’s get some papers out in advance. Let’s think this through and let’s give ourselves maybe more than one opportunity to think that through.
Vicky Browning [00:24:59] So that’s about understanding their communication style and the way they think and adapting processes around it to make sure that we don’t lose their input because we have called in a certain direction or moved it, a certain place that doesn’t fit them.
Vicky Browning [00:25:17] And in terms of the other aspects, going back to that and the nine, what did you call them?
Aleema Shivji [00:25:23] Archetypes.
Vicky Browning [00:25:24] Is the sense that you build on your strengths… you said visionary, guru and orator. Do you build a new strength or do you say, actually there is the plumber archetype, that I mean, to be better at the […] bits in your terms, in terms of your leadership development, or your development as a leader, is it about building the strengths you currently have? Or is it about looking at the areas where you feel less comfortable or less developed and working on those? Which way around do you think that is?
Aleema Shivji [00:25:59] I think it’s a bit of both for me or it has been a bit of both for me. At one point, you know, my coach gave me a really good idea, she said ok you’ve got nine archetypes. So why don’t you for the next nine weeks, each week try to embody each of these archetypes and see where you feel strength and where it’s actually challenging you?
Vicky Browning [00:26:16] Did you wear different outfits?
Vicky Browning [00:26:21] I don’t know if I did, I guess I might have! I can’t remember how, but I do remember this was a couple of years ago now and it was a really helpful exercise because it helped me figure out which one I resonate the most with and then you can lean into them, but also resonate the ones, think about the ones that make, that are difficult for you. I guess thinking… Helped me think through. Okay, it’s difficult for me. Does it matter or is it something I think I can work on a bit more?
Vicky Browning [00:26:45] Or can I compensate through other people on my team?
Aleema Shivji [00:26:47] Yeah.
Vicky Browning [00:26:47] So, if shepherding is just not my thing, can I have a shepherd alliance on my SMT.
Aleema Shivji [00:26:52] Exactly.
Vicky Browning [00:26:53] So have you shared those archetypes with your reports? Is that something you talk about as an organisation? Or is this sort of more kind of personal?
Aleema Shivji [00:27:01] I think for me at that time, it was more of a personal journey. But since then, we’ve definitely done a lot of stuff on leadership. So we’ve actually had a team coach in with our leadership team over the last couple of years, really helping us think together as a team, think through how we work together as a team. When we had a change in one of the members of the leadership team about nine months ago, he came back in and we revisited some of this, recognizing that actually when somebody leaves, the dynamic of the group changes and that’s really important. So we’ve definitely been thinking about leadership and collective leadership and how we work, how do we embody that as a group and like you say, rely on each other’s strengths.
Vicky Browning [00:27:40] And what would you say if, you know, looking back, I mean, you’ve done all these different things. What’s it kind of was a proud moment, where you think, I’m really so thrilled that I was able to…
Aleema Shivji [00:27:51] Gosh, I’m not sure I could actually break it down into, you know, give you one example. But certainly, you know, when you’ve got somebody who goes onto a great new career opportunity because the development opportunities they’ve had in the organisation, but also recognizing that maybe their next step is to go somewhere else and that’s OK, too. So that’s definitely in my proud moments.
Vicky Browning [00:28:12] And it feels like, just some of the things you’ve said, that sense of bringing others on is really important to you. And that’s, whether that’s, you know, young people beginning their careers or people working within an organisation or people that you or your charity works with or serves.That element of it is really important to you.
Aleema Shivji [00:28:30] Absolutely. And I think there are lots of… And that’s why it’s quite hard to pin down one big one, because, for me, there are lots of small ones as well of sort of when somebody says, well, I’m really glad you asked my opinion on this. And then you get the knocks where people will say, why didn’t you ask our opinion on this? Or we wouldn’t have done it this way. And then you take it as a learning say right, next time. I mean, I remember we had some suggestion from the team via the staff reps to introduce a new policy. We agreed with the idea. And then this was a few years ago, went ahead and developed a policy and shared it back with the team. And the feedback we had, later on, was we kind of wish you’d developed the policy with us. And so that’s something taken on board and have been trying to do with new things and sort of say, well, actually, if we are going to institute something or actually it’s the people who are going to be using it that need to need to give a contribution. And I don’t always get it right. I think it is about getting feedback and taking on board that feedback and trying to change it.
Vicky Browning [00:29:22] Brilliant. Well, thank you so much. It’s been an absolute pleasure to talk to you. Fascinating hearing about your career and all the things you’ve done. And thanks so much for joining us. And we wish you well with the onwards and upwards.
Aleema Shivji [00:29:33] Thank you so much.