Abigail Green 
Head of HR Childbase  
MK4 Red Thread Fellowship 
In a conversation with Natalie, the ambassador at the time for The Red Thread Fellowship, I was persuaded to apply for the year-long leadership development programme. The application process was easier than I imagined, and I was thrilled to get a call from Freddie Guilmard, co-founder of the programme, to say I had been awarded a place 
It was a challenging time at work when I embarked on the 2-day launch workshop with 11 other Fellows. What I quickly realised was that this was unlike any other ‘training course’, it wasn’t a day out of the office to sit back and zone out. The Fellowship programme was stimulating both emotionally and cognitively and took us all out of our comfort zones. It was, in fact, cathartic. It may sound strange, but there were tears on day 1, I think it takes a skillful coach and tutor to create the safe space needed to open up about work and personal challenges. As part of the two-day launch, we had to choose the charity we were going to work with as part of the programme, this is no easy task. With 8 or more charities to choose from you watch, in pairs, as your preferred charity is chosen by someone else, and you have to make some difficult decisions. Imposter syndrome kicked in, ‘what did I have to offer a charity?’, ‘everyone else seems more skillful than me’, but I need not have worried. Being paired with MK Snap was a joy and a privilege to support such a worthwhile cause. 
The Fellowship programme taught me to challenge my beliefs; about myself, about my perceptions, about people. Working with 11 other individuals and being paired with one for the charity project, taught me many practical skills which I could take back to the workplace and ‘try out’. For me, one of the most beneficial elements of the workshops was the group support, it was like peer coaching, we all brought work challenges to the table and talked through these, offering advice or a listening ear. 
The activities, the experiential learning, will be remembered long after you’ve graduated. I remember the learning from each, not necessarily the activity, but that is the point. The ‘scoop the ball’ activity I remember for the use of communication skills and group dynamics. I learned not to sit back and that I should put myself forward for tasks, on this one I knew I could lead but allowed someone else to and sat back and watched until I had to step in as lead. This taught me to be more confident in my abilities, step up and speak up, but also allow others a leading role and support their learning in the process. All these behaviours I took back to the workplace. 
For me, I grew in confidence throughout the process and I have now stepped up into a more senior leadership role. 
The Red Thread Fellowship is perfect for people in the first couple of years of leadership as it allows time to talk about your role, grow yourself personally and professionally and test your learning back in the workplace. It is a perfect stepping ladder for the next step in leadership careers. If I could choose 3 words to describe the programme they would be; 
If you are considering applying, I would say; 
‘Don’t worry about what you have to offer the charity, you will connect in your own way, just commit to it and it will happen. You won’t regret signing up!’ 
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