Mutual benefits

Standing for council or a committee offers some unique personal development opportunities for members, says Karen Middleton 

Mutual benefits CSP CEO Karen Middleton

This is an exciting year for the profession and the CSP – celebrating the centenary of the Royal Charter; the further roll out of FCP across all four nations of the UK; the ramping up of our Right to Rehab campaign; a new corporate, three-year strategy, and elections for council and our three committees. I want to talk about the elections and give you food for thought.

When I’m discussing career and leadership development, I talk a lot about the importance of developing skills from activities that are outside your paid job. Taking opportunities like supporting local groups, working for a charity, being a school governor… or maybe serving as a CSP Council or committee member.

One of the intentions of our governance review in 2017 was that serving on council or a committee should not only be of huge value to the CSP and the profession, but also benefit the individual member elected or selected. While each will bring their own knowledge and experience of the profession, they will also leave with so much more. I’m sure the current members would agree.

Even going through the actual process of election or selection is an opportunity to learn about how to sell yourself as the best possible person for the job. 

I wonder if there is something about learning to deal with imposter syndrome once members realise the responsibility that comes with their new role and perhaps have concerns about whether it was a great idea or not. We all experience imposter syndrome and the more practice you get to deal with it, the more adept you become at managing it.

During the induction, the directors and I are here to offer support and guide you through learning about governance, finance, risk and strategy, and also expose you to some of the detail of the work on the strategy. Induction isn’t a one off, it’s continual.

There are other skills to learn. How to chair a meeting, for example. And learning to debate a subject when there are diverse opinions and expertise. My observation of countless council meetings is that this is the ‘sweet spot’, where the real learning can be. Seeing a group of members who work in the same profession, yet have completely different opinions, experience and expertise, come together to make a decision informed by the expertise in the organisation is a real privilege for me. This requires trust and mutual respect, and part of the ongoing induction and learning is about building the team. Another skill set that is so relevant to our paid jobs.

Part of that team building work is learning about oneself and one’s own impact on others. This is probably the most valuable learning from being elected or selected because it is the start of really understanding what it means to be a leader.

The governance of the CSP benefits from different members’ involvement: the mix of different people and experiences is invaluable.

So think about the elections this year as part of your personal development plan. Think about what you can give back to the profession and what you can take from the experience. Have a chat with one of the present members. I can assure you that by the end of your term, you will have gained so much experience and expertise that the imposter in you will be pushed into the background.

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