‘To be a great leader, you need to be a better follower’

23 May 2024
Stephen Eames HNY HCP in conversation with Jane Colthup at the Ordinary Extraordinary Leaders conference
Valentina Hynes, SVH Inc. CIC, Ordinary Extraordinary Leaders conference
Natasha Babar-Evans Better Connect Ordinary Extraordinary Leaders quote
Ordinary Extraordinary Leaders conference
JK McQuinn Where the Mind Grows quote from Ordinary Extraordinary Leaders conference
Debbie North Access the Dales presents at the Ordinary Extraordinary Leaders conference

Jane Colthup, Chief Executive at Community First Yorkshire, shares her thoughts in the wake of our Ordinary Extraordinary Leaders conference on 22 May:

What a day our first leadership conference was on Wednesday. It was inspirational, and at times emotional, and to be under the same roof as so many leaders was a real privilege. There was a real buzz in the room, one of excitement to make ourselves and our organisations even better – after all, we were all gathered to learn how we can develop on our Ordinary Extraordinary Leadership journeys.

This was so much more than a conference – we had panel discussions, fireside chats and a Swap Shop plus some incredible speakers. Many of the questions posed by the delegates, I’m sure resonated with a lot of us, and while challenging at times, they gave us a lot to think about.

There was so much to capture and be inspired by. Here are my top thoughts and impressions of the day:

Aside from wishing I had an Aunt Flossie like SELFA’s Emma Pears had to inspire her with words such as ‘Rules were made to be broken’, I was blown away by the amount of talent, dedication and visionary people working in our sector.

The fireside chats with Richard Flinton, Chief Executive of North Yorkshire Council and Prof Stephen Eames CBE, Chief Executive of Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, I hope, showed a different side to them as leaders.

During our Breakthrough Moments panel discussion, we learned an important lesson from Paul McCay, Chief Executive of the Wilf Ward Trust that we should never underestimate where the power is – the PA is key! Wise words!

From Natasha Babar-Evans, Chief Executive of Better Connect, we heard that it’s alright to fail as long as you learn from it, pivot and change. It’s important that we all get out of our comfort zones as well, something that is often hard to do when we’re all so busy yet keeps our learning as leaders fresh and relevant.

Something that Valentina Hynes, founder of SVH Inc. CIC said (and you can look at her presentation here) that has really landed is, “To be a leader you must always reflect. Are you inspiring people? Are you allowing people time to breathe? Ask yourself the difficult questions.” How often are we honest enough with ourselves to do this?

The Founder Moments panel discussion revealed that we need to ‘chuck away Imposter Syndrome,’ we don’t need to ask permission and that sometimes the most extraordinary moments are when you fail – it’s what you learn from your failures that is the gold. Oh, and don’t forget that we should never buy pens, always steal them (thanks Jill Quinn, Dementia Forward – sound advice)!

I, for one, shed a few tears at the incredible presentation from Debbie North, Access the Dales and I know many of you were moved by her beautifully told story.

I know all of us appreciated the candour and honesty from Major General Zac Stenning as he talked about his role as a leader in shaping change within the Army. Although a totally different sector, there were many parallels in leadership that we can all relate to and learn from.

This was for me,  a magical day and I want to reiterate my thanks to everyone – the speakers, panellists, marketplace stallholders, contributors and, most importantly, the guests who made the day so captivating.


Let’s keep the momentum going. If you were able to attend, do share your favourite moments with us either by email, on social media using the hashtag #OrdinaryExtraordinary or give us your feedback in our short post event evaluation form.

Why not visit our online VCSE leadership hub which will point you to leadership development activities that can support the path you choose?