Meet the Candidates: Stephen Leadbeater

Stephen Leadbeater is one of two candidates standing for the role of Elected Trustee this year.

Current grade of membership: Graduate, Retired

Current employment: Retired

Current roles within the society: Deputy Chair of Member Board

Previous roles within the society: None

Membership of society member networks: None

Stephen Leadbeater
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I am a good collaborator, and enjoy using my experience of leadership, coaching and mentoring to help others be their best.
Stephen Leadbeater
Stephen Leadbeater - Nominee for the role of BPS Elected Trustee

Stephen's nominee statement

Question 1

The Elected Trustee will be a member of our Board of Trustees, which is the overall governing body of the society. Please outline any leadership, organisational and/or governance experience that would help you carry out this role.

Until retiring in 2021, I held a number of senior leadership roles in blue chip organisations. Within these roles, I would typically be responsible for significant budgets, and teams of various size. The largest team I managed was over 150.

On the whole, my roles were commercial positions in the market sector of retail. I have held roles in the UK and Ireland, and also have partnered with teams in the US, Latin America, and Asia.

I have been responsible for developing partnerships with third parties, creating relationships that result in considerable investment and mutual benefit.

The skill set I have developed as a result is one where clarity of communication is key, together with the ability to understand complex situations, and create practical solutions.

I am a good collaborator, and enjoy using my experience of leadership, coaching and mentoring to help others be their best.

Throughout my career, I have tried to step outside of the 'day job' and apply my expertise in places where I can apply my experience – for example, I have previous experience of being a charity Trustee, and of being a Parish Councillor.

Recently, I have committed to support work around creating social value in more deprived communities.

Being a senior leader with an active interest in the psychology of work, I had the opportunity to put this in to practice by being involved with strategic projects that gave me significant experience of organisational design and organisational transformation.

As a leader, and as a result of my studies that cover a broad range of behavioural topics, I have also made sure that I use this experience and knowledge to support others. I have significant experience of coaching and mentoring, and both before (in person) and during lockdown (virtually) I led workshops and 'drop in' sessions to bring mindfulness alive for people who wanted to explore it.

As such, I think I will bring a degree of leadership experience from outside of the traditional psychology career path that will be synergistic to other members of the board of trustees, bringing some different perspectives that will support and perhaps challenge the existing narrative, and bringing a wealth of commercial experience and experience of working with people, collaborating, and influencing.

Question 2

The BPS’s vision is to promote inclusivity and diversity. How do you see this as impacting the society’s work?

As a white, straight, middle age male, I accept that throughout my career, there is no doubt that I will have benefitted from unconscious bias. I cannot change who I am, but I can choose to be an ally with, and be actively involved in, the fields of inclusivity, equity and diversity. 

The way I have chosen to express this 'allyship' is to make sure I am informed about issues relating to Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity and can use my voice to inform the debate and support those that may not have the same share of voice.

As such, before retiring from corporate life, I was an inaugural member of the Walgreens Boots Alliance Global DEI Council, dedicated to raising the profile of, and driving active change in, the subject across our organisation.

Since retiring, I worked as an independent advisor to an organisation that wished to undertake research on the state of DEI in commercial organisations. To do this I interviewed over 50 C-suite individuals in commercial organisations to form the basis of a research report that was launched at a global retail conference in April 2023. 

I give this context to highlight my personal commitment to diversity and inclusion – and that is, to move beyond discussion and policy, into action, and to take ownership for my own understanding of the subject matter, locating myself within it.

The BPS needs to move beyond policy, and be an active ally for DEI – and in particular, moving beyond an understanding of the value that diversity brings to an organisation, and into a place where it truly champions inclusion and equity – making sure that EVERYONE feels they can be their authentic self, and is supported in being so.

Through the research I led last year and my own experience at work, I would argue that the 'D' is the easier part – but creating cultures that truly support the 'I' and 'E' is harder. In fact, I would go a step further and say that there is little point in creating a diverse organisation if you can't create an ecosystem that is underpinned by equity and inclusion.

I have taken the time to understand the issues around DEI and build them into my own personal philosophy of allyship – and try to authentically build these into every aspect of my life.

I will be a strong ally if elected, and will use my voice to hold the BPS to account, as I believe there is much work still to be done.

Question 3

The BPS aims to create a vibrant member- centred community with a meaningful membership identity. What do you see as the Elected Trustee’s role in this?

As an active participant of the Members Board, I have spent much of the last four years being immersed in discussion about the membership of the BPS – what it means to be a 'member'; why do people join? Why do people leave? What do they get out of membership? Who are the competitors?

Perhaps a personal snapshot will help articulate why I think it is important, and what energy I would bring to the role of Trustee. As mentioned in my reply to Question 1, I do not work in the field of psychology; I come from the field of leadership and commerce. However, within this, understanding people, and what motivates them, was a key part of my work.

So 15 years ago, as my career progressed into bigger leadership roles, often involving working with external parties to form significant partnerships, I chose to formally study psychology – first, through the OU 'conversion' course, and then through a Masters in Occupational Psychology. Since then, I have taken a number of other formal academic postgraduate qualifications in associated fields, including Coaching and Mindfulness qualifications.

As such, I would say that I am highly qualified in academic psychology, and use this every day to support my thinking and actions as a leader. And yet… there was seemingly no place for me in the BPS other than as a Graduate member. Even with the new member grades, I would say people like me still don't have a comfortable seat.

So I would argue that the BPS still 'feels' like the place where students HAVE TO be a member, and then, after that, it is the home of 'chartered' psychologists – and even this is under threat as other bodies take their hold in clinical areas.

So as trustees, we need to understand what this organisation truly stands for – is it the home of all psychology in the UK, where anyone with an interest in the subject, based on qualifications and their role, can come together to learn from each other and develop a diverse network of practitioners who CHOOSE to come together, or is it a place you HAVE to join to get your qualifications and get certain jobs, and so you do so begrudgingly?

I see the elected Trustee has an important role to play in understanding what this organisation stands for in its broadest sense, helping steer its future strategy to be a financially viable organisation, and to work in partnership with the Member Board to ensure that how we talk to existing and potential members is consistent with being a viable organisation, and that membership is sought and valued, rather than begrudgingly paid… and that there is a home for EVERYONE who seeks out membership.

Proposer statements

Dr Dan O'Hare

How long have you known the candidate?

One year.

When have you worked with the candidate or come into contact with them?

Together on BPS Member Board.

Why do you think the candidate would make a great trustee?

I have always found Stephen to provide insightful reflection and comment during meetings, often tapping to wider strategic needs and priorities.

A significant benefit for the Board of Trustees will be Stephen's experience in industry, outside of psychology. This, I think, gives him a broader view of issues and will be an asset to the board.

I have also always found Stephen to be kind, respectful and supportive.

Christina Buxton

How long have you known the candidate?

Four years.

When have you worked with the candidate or come into contact with them?

Stephen is a fellow member of the Member Board.

Why do you think the candidate would make a great trustee?

Stephen is a reasoned voice who always brings a new and valuable perspective to every issue. He is happy to speak out and up when required, but in a calm and reasoned manner.

His insights and contributions are enabling and informative. He is an experienced business coach and committee member. I believe he would make an excellent trustee.