· Features

Stonewall's leadership programme aims to help gay talent develop as authentic leaders

Personal development is key to retaining your potential leaders. Every leader has an individual style but for lesbian, gay and bisexual leaders developing an authentic leadership style can present a range of challenges. If you are gay, should you come out at work? How much is useful to share with your team?

Stonewall, the lesbian, gay and bisexual equality charity, believes people perform better at work when they can be themselves. Although legislation outlawing discrimination at work on the grounds of sexual orientation has been in place since 2003, some employers have struggled to find a way to develop their rising stars and have lost them to their competitors.

Since 2005 a leadership programme run by Stonewall has been helping rising gay leaders identify how they can develop as authentic leaders. The annual programme takes place in partnership with Ashridge Business School in Hertfordshire and has transformed the careers of many previous delegates.

Over the course of two days the leadership programme explores what authentic leadership is – and this is different for every leader. The programme enables participants to explore, possibly for the first time, the extent to which being gay is relevant to their leadership – if at all. For most this brings new insights and enables them to draw on a wider set of experiences, values and skills in being an authentic leader and a realisation that others look for authenticity in their leaders.

As Stonewall’s leadership programme is specifically designed for lesbian, gay or bisexual leaders, it allows them to feel they can fully participate and also accelerates the learning and the impact of the programme.

Co-coaching plays a key role in the programme, enabling delegates to work through issues directly facing them in their workplaces, identifying the critical issues and solutions. Support doesn’t end at the close of the programme, with alumni able to attend a reunion event and contact each other for further advice and support.

For delegates the course starts before the first day, with an application process and pre-course work to complete.

Ultimately, one core test for all leadership development programmes is how they benefit the business. For many employers the results are immediate.

The Stonewall leadership programme takes place on November 25-26 this year. All delegates have to successfully complete an application process, which is now open.

David Shields, director of workplace programmes, Stonewall