How I Work
It combines a political analysis of why these phenomena are so pervasive, and how they intersect with oppression and privilege, with a participatory approach to developing personal and collective approaches to doing things differently.
Ultimately this work is designed to help you make sure that you and your organisation fully embody your values for change in the world.
AWARENESS This is the foundation of this work, an invitation is to track what's currently happening and become more aware of the context in which the issues of stress, overwhelm and burnout are so pervasive, of what I call the 'do-it-all' culture and of the ways in which oppression, discrimination and circumstances intersect with this.
FOCUS is about reviewing priorities and discerning what is and what isn't our work to do. The invitation is to strengthen your clarity and your boundaries in your work and in your lives.
STRATEGIES is about coping with crisis and choosing how we react to stressful situations. It's about having a plan to help you cope and look after yourself and one another during the times when busyness and stress are high.
CARE is about how to make care a central operating principle in our work. This stage is about identifying and building care into all the ways in which you work.
BLOCKS is about navigating the problems that emerge in this work, inside us, between us and amongst us. This is about uncovering the places where we sabotage ourselves and each other in this work.
REFLECT is about developing mechanisms to stay on track and keep this conversation going, discussing ways to stay present to this work and to these questions.
SHARE is about facilitating the sharing of this work. The invitation is to think deliberately about how you might want to pass these ideas on and model them in your day to day practice.
The things I can offer building on this process include:
- Tailored Processes for Organisations
- Additional Coaching & Action Learning Packages to support the process
- Coaching and Support for individuals and leaders
- Keynote Speeches on Beating Burnout and Building Internal Resilience (more about the topics I am available to speak about can be found by following this link)
- Away Days & Staff Conferences focused on wellbeing.
Building a culture of care and developing Humane and Just Leadership cultures is especially important in non-profit organisations, because part of what motivates your employees is a passion for your mission and your values, the change you want to create in the world.
I've worked in international NGOs and philanthropy and women's rights organising and service delivery for almost two decades and I also know that this doesn't always happen in practice.
If your people are attracted to creating a humane and just world. But your workplace culture and processes are chronically exhausting or dehumanising, then you’re going to see profound burnout and disillusionment -- and that leads to disengagement and low productivity. You’re likely to see exceptional interpersonal conflict and politicking, and you’re going to see people leaving or being less effective as a result.
That’s why it’s essential to create a culture around Humane and Just Leadership and teach your people to practice care and pay attention to their own and ones another's wellbeing.
Otherwise you’re going to have a productivity and retainment problem. And you are also likely to find that you staff find it hard to embody your organsiational values.
Research has shown that the solution to engagement productivity and retention isn’t higher pay. It’s purpose.
And the workplace experience needs to be aligned with that shared purpose for it to really work for your organisation.
With NGOs, that’s even more pronounced. If your workplace culture is more humane and just, your teams will be working in alignment with their own values and those of the organisation, rather than feeling conflicted about them on a day-to-day basis.
I can support you to create a humane and just work environment that aligns with your mission helping you develop the skills of radical care, resiliency, and humane and just leadership.
More about me and why I do this work
I am a a Feminist Writer, Facilitator, Activist & Coach as well as a former CEO, Chair and Grant Maker. I help organisations build resilient cultures in which people value and care for themselves and each other. Here are my skills and qualifications:
- A degree in Swahili and Social Anthropology and a Masters in Anthropological Research.
- I was CEO of the charity AbleChildAfrica between 2004 and 2011; I have two decades of years experience as a leader and practitioner in international development; I also developed programmes in three countries for the mental health and wellbeing charity BasicNeeds.
- I have worked extensively in professional fundraising and grant-making and have raised millions of pounds for the organisations I’ve worked with to fund social justice projects. I have Chaired a Domestic Violence Refuge and led the organisation through a merger and have consulted with many other organisations in their change-management processes.
- I am also a Shadow Work Coach, Action Learning Facilitator, TedX Speaker & Nia Movement Practitioner; Founder of the Red Tent Directory and The Story Party; and a podcaster and public speaker.
Working with Mary Ann allowed me to consider my own need for self-care and my desire for social justice and to see how they could compliment each other, instead of feeling as though one needed to detract from the other. I was able to start to tease apart the strands which were unique to my own context and personality, and those which were part of the wider culture. Since undertaking this work I have made clearer and more confident decisions about my boundaries and my needs than ever before. I know what I am here to do and I am excited to explore it in a way which also nourishes and supports me. I don’t feel guilty about taking care of my own wellbeing, because I understand how it relates to the impact I can have on the world. And I know that the change I am a part of will be stronger, more sustainable and more powerful as a result.
Madeleine Forbes, The Seasoned Year