The Psychology of Leadership — 5 inspirational charity leaders


Third Sector organisations undertake dynamic work — from providing lifesaving medical aid to reducing poverty.

That’s why balancing successful delivery with financial sustainability is  central to our Charity and Social Enterprise Management Cert HE course.

If you think this fulfilling career is for you, here’s what motivates five of the most inspirational charity leaders in the UK.


  1. Baron Bird MBE – Co-founder, The Big Issue

The personal journey of Big Issue founder John Bird spans childhood poverty, homelessness and imprisonment to culminate in a seat in the House of Lords.

He launched his magazine in 1991 to provide homeless vendors with ‘a hand up, not a hand out’ — turning marginalised people into entrepreneurs and supporting their societal reintegration.

The Big Issue Group has invested over £30 million into social enterprises in the past 13 years and John’s forthright leadership style has furthered his cause in the corridors of Westminster.


  1. Naomi Marek OBE –  Founder, Sky Badger

The struggles Naomi Marek faced as the mother of a child with epilepsy and developmental delay inspired her to set up charity Sky Badger.

Sky Badger is her son Max’s alter-ego, and the charity plays a super-heroic role by providing advice, support and information for families with sick children.

Naomi’s motherhood skillset has transferred well to charity leadership and she was awarded an OBE in The Queen’s New Year’s honours list for her efforts.


  1. Blondell Cluff CBE –  Chief Executive, The West India Committee

Blondell Cluff is a woman of many talents — she’s Chair of the London Committee of the Heritage Lottery Fund, a leading solicitor in the City and a successful jewellery designer.

As Chief Executive of The West India Committee, Blondell oversees projects that stimulate economic growth, health, education, and environmental sustainability in the Caribbean and its Diaspora.

She has authored a book on the contribution of Caribbean soldiers and civilians to Britain’s efforts during World War One and, as the Anguillan Government’s representative to the UK and EU, regularly reminds the UK of its lasting responsibilities in the region. 


  1. Louise Macdonald OBE – Chief Executive, Young Scot

Louise Macdonald has been Chief Executive of Young Scot since 2007 and her career has seen her move from print journalist to charity chief — an intermediate stint as a community-based project volunteer was instrumental in her career-switch.

Young Scot is an information and citizenship charity for 11-25-year olds in Scotland and has 650,000 members. Her innovative Young Scot card serves as proof of age for holders, as well as offering discounts on travel and shopping.

Louise characterises leadership as ‘less about leading an army and more about cultivating a garden’ and is driven by her organisation’s mission to empower young people in Scotland to develop and improve their opportunities through information and knowledge.


  1. Frank Bruno – founder, The Frank Bruno Foundation

Frank Bruno is best-known as the charismatic boxer who won the WBC World Heavyweight Championship in 1995.

But his bravery and candour in battling bipolar disorder drove him to set up a charity that helps people suffering from mental health issues to fight back through non-contact boxing and wellbeing programmes.

Frank’s successfully channelled the discipline and confidence that are by-products of boxing towards boosting the self-esteem of people struggling with daily existence.


If these five inspirational figures have sparked your interest in the leadership, catch up with the rest of our series here:

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