A valuable sounding board for a pioneering CEO

Clergy Support Trust

“David is very wise – really plugged in to charity sector issues – and very candid. He doesn’t pull his punches. I really valued him. Because of his faith, I felt able to be very open with him as I explored my own ideas.”;

Jeremy Moodey, CEO, Clergy Support Trust

Clergy Support Trust provides financial and wellbeing support to Anglican clergy households in times of hardship or need. With roots stretching back to 1655, the Trust is inured in many longstanding traditions, including a festival at St Paul’s Cathedral that has taken place annually since that year, so when current CEO Jeremy Moodey came into post in 2017 charged with introducing a fresh strategy and a fresh brand, he faced the challenge of pushing through change while respecting the charity’s distinguished history.

Jeremy had worked in investment banking until 2009 and was familiar with the benefits of executive coaching. Having met David Saint and listened to him speaking at seminars, he felt David would be the ideal foil for testing his ideas and perfecting his approach to staff, trustees and other stakeholders.

David and Jeremy met every two to three months, using Jeremy’s latest board reports as the basis for their discussions. Very early on, David asked Jeremy to put together a strategic timeline. This turned out to be very front-loaded, so they worked together to ‘flatten the curve’, spreading the load over four years to 2022, while also going over the strategic plan in fine detail.

Jeremy, by his own admission, did not have the years in the charity sector that David has and so David was able to help him find solutions to cultural issues within the Trust. Jeremy had developed a strong advocacy approach in his previous charity CEO role and was finding that he ran into resistance when he brought that approach to the issue of clergy wellbeing. David helped him navigate that minefield and strike a balance between advocacy and diplomacy.

There was a personal mentoring aspect to these meetings too. Jeremy is stepping down in autumn 2020 to concentrate on his ordination training and David’s faith enabled them both to be very open in their discussions, as they involved Jeremy’s personal future as well as the future of the Trust.

David helped Jeremy to reach a point where he could plan to leave the Trust with a well thought-through strategic plan to take it through to 2022 with renewed vigour and purpose. He provided a valuable sounding board for Jeremy’s ideas and contributed some ideas of his own. And he helped Jeremy to manage his Board and staff team through change.

Stemming from this work, Action Planning consultant Anja Batista Sonksen was enlisted to help with reviewing the annual festival. Some aspects of this were loss-making, leaving Jeremy with a dilemma over whether to preserve the tradition or to end it. Anja went along to the festival and associated dinner and submitted a report containing various ways in which to improve the return on the event.

Jeremy also hired Tracy Madgwick, Action Planning’s HR specialist, to modernise the Trust’s HR practices, such as appraisals and objective setting. Tracy prepared a new set of policies and conducted training for the Trust’s management and staff.

Consultant’s insight:
It is interesting that Jeremy referenced executive coaching in this case study, because there is some resistance in the sector to this approach – perhaps because it is seen as a bit of a luxury, or because admitting you need it is an admission of failure. But if we look to the world of sport, it is the top athletes that have coaches, whose job it is to help these super-able people achieve even more than they imagined possible. As a consultant, it is always a bit daunting working with a highly able client – will I really add any value? Jeremy’s openness to challenge, and his willingness to consider alternative approaches, made this a very productive partnership.

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