Notes from Summit 2022 Plenaries

Posted on
3 Jun 2022
by The Wheel

The stimulating morning plenaries at Summit 2022 focused on partnership working and leadership in our sector. We we also honoured to have inputs from An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD, and Minister Joe O'Brien TD, which you'll find videos of below.

Making Partnership Work

Featuring Peter Cassells - Chair, Health Dialogue Forum; Dr Damian Thomas - Senior Policy Analyst, NESC; Suzanne Connolly - CEO, Barnardos; Fergal Landy - CEO, Family Resource Centres National Forum; Rr Niamh O’Reilly - CEO, AONTAS; and Diarmuid O’Corrbui - CEO, Carmichael.

  •  The COVID-19 crisis marked a high point in effective collaboration and partnership working between the state and the community and voluntary sector. It was also a period of recognition for the sector. These positive changes are starting to slip and it’s important to maintain the momentum and the lessons learned. The Health Dialogue Forum should provide an opportunity for this. 

  •  The Health Dialogue Forum itself aims to facilitate a new era of partnership working and improved relationships. We have a hybrid, interdependent system of health and social care provision in Ireland and good relationships are key to achieving effective, people-led services. Its work has centred on developing partnership principles, case studies and the impact of Covid-19 

  •  Panelists spoke about the difficulties they face at the moment, which includes: insufficient funding; onerous reporting and compliance requirements that take staff away from the front line; varied relationships with the State at local level; lack of shared understanding of the sector’s work and the needs of service users 

  •  It was acknowledged that we also need to improve accountability in the sector – tackling abridged accounts, continuing to improve governance etc. 

  •  How can this be achieved? Real institutional change will always be slow but the HDF should provide a forum for improving relationships long term. This needs to be informed by lived experience and reflected in organisational culture, both in the sector and in State bodies

What Are the Leadership Challenges in the Voluntary Sector today?

Featuring Mairead O'Connor, Skills Development Senior Manager at The Wheel; Annalisa O’Carroll, Leadership Management Ireland; Brendan Murphy, Executive Coach; and Denis O’Connor, CEO of 2into3.

  • The Leadership Academy is a new model for the sector, designed to meet the challenges of leadership over the next few decades. It’s not a physical building, it’s not simply a website, but it is a space, a learning hub, a community for leaders to come together and develop – it will take all of us to make it a success. The Academy will spotlight the most relevant and progressive opportunities for leaders in the sector. 

  • There is an acute need for investment in leadership within the charity sector. While it’s often on the agenda, it’s rarely the top priority. To meet anticipated future growth, we need to address the critical skills gap and provide pathways for future leaders. We need to appreciate that there is a strong net cost benefit in investing in leadership skills – from role modeling, to staff and volunteer retention, to employee satisfaction  

  • Energy matters. Energy is at the core of everything we do – we all do the jobs we do because we’re looking for purpose and meaning – but it is not infinite. We need to manage our energy levels particularly in this ‘new normal’ landscape. We need to look at micro habits that boost our energy and install them into our work day. Being a colleague who provides energising interactions has a proven impact on having your ideas listened to, your likelihood in getting promoted and you’re more likely to be seen as productive. If everyone in the room optimised their energy, think about the impact it would have on our teams and on our organisations. 

  • The workplace has changed. The manager’s role is changing from a manager to a people leader. There has been a power shift from ‘me to we’. There is less control and overseeing, and more facilitation, support and coaching. Less static and physical, more fluid and digital. CEOs should consider if their workplace suits today’s way of working.  How much are you investing in training? Are you a coach? How good are your systems? Is your structure a fit for your strategy?  Without examining these areas, your managers will be impacted, and your organisations will be unable to deliver.  

Address by An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD

Address by Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development with special responsibility for Community Development and Charities, Joe O'Brien TD