Lynn's Story

Lynn Perry / 7 min read

Leading with passion and purpose to successfully bring diverse functions together.

A new operational model gave Lynn an opportunity to unite three functions towards the organization’s purpose. The result is an inclusive model that recognizes talent and maximizes potential.

The programme gave me an opportunity to really look at different ways of working.

I was struck by how the leaders I met during the streetwise mba used Cultural Intelligence to lead and connect different functions, valuing the learning that comes from wider perspectives. There was also a focus on collective impact and long term ambition rather than an orientation to individual tasks. In short, this learning from the Common Purpose programme has enabled me to refocus – and to develop my leadership skills by working beyond authority across different departments, and supporting others to do so, with an emphasis on corporate goals rather than individual roles.

Protecting the UK’s most vulnerable children

Barnardo’s is the largest leading children’s charity across the UK. We work with some of the most disadvantaged children and young people, many of whom have adverse life experiences. Because of the scale of our organization, we have unique opportunities to influence change, not just for children we work with, but in wider society too.

My role, principally, is to make sure that our services are safe, effective and meet the needs of the children, young people and families we serve. I’ve been here 11 years now and in a lot of respects, I feel I have found my professional home. Our values as an organization echo with my own passion for social justice; working with hope, valuing the unique worth of all and supporting people to fulfil their potential. There’s a synergy between what Barnardo’s aspires to achieve and what I want to do with my life.

Three departments, one purpose

Whilst I was on the programme, I was working on a new operational delivery model that gave me an opportunity in real time to start doing things differently.

My goal was to bring together three different parts of our organization in the region – business development, finance and management information – under one operational hub. All three play key roles in developing our work in the organization, expanding our reach and impact. I thought there was a real opportunity to bring these teams together physically to create a continuous and virtuous cycle of improvement on a daily basis through greater connectivity and real time sharing and shaping of ideas, knowledge and skills.

Developing CQ gives leaders the edge that will help ensure they can navigate the unpredictable.

The programme gave me an opportunity to really look at different ways of working in various organizations and industries. It enabled me to see more clearly the parallels across what might appear to be disparate functions or purposes. It emphasized the value of bringing diverse groups and individuals together and to looking at things through different lenses, changing and expanding our own viewing platform and that of others.

Values-led leadership

Without exception, everyone I met on the programme embodied what I describe as a values-led leadership. They had a clear set of values driving them as individuals, often congruent with the values that drive their organization. Not only was there a clear sense of purpose, there was a passion to that purpose. Passion and purpose is a powerful combination, exhibited by many people I have worked with in the charity sector, but harnessing that in more of an explicit way was something I became more focused on during this programme.

In any change it is important to be explicitly focused on the organization’s purpose and ambitions. For us that means a focus on stronger families, safer childhoods and positive futures and everything we do needs to coalesce around achieving those ambitions.

Some programmes create an opportunity to reflect and to learn, but not all of them take you to a place where you are sufficiently inspired and motivated to then respond differently. For me, the Common Purpose programme did all three – it took me into that reflective space, inspired me and then led me to respond.

Like me, most people at Barnardo’s are mission driven. By shifting the focus explicitly back to our purpose (our 'why') and co-locating the teams, we refreshed what we did and how we did it with a shared goal to increase our reach and continuously improve our impact. We did a lot of work focused on business partnering and created a new way of working that better recognized, reflected and harnessed the talent across the teams and improved our learning, individually and collectively.

In keeping our purpose a top priority as a team, we were able to explicitly re-establish a shared vision that we collectively pursued, with each team being able to clearly see their contribution to the whole. This has been critical to the success of our work and the creation of a thriving culture within the regional hub.

Lynn Perry is the CEO at Barnardo's. 
She took part in the Greater Manchester TheKNOW Programme in 2008 and the streetwisemba programme in 2018. 

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