Impact & Client Stories

Shared leadership in housing

northstar cath

North Star housing group was established in 2006 and brings together, Endeavour, Teesdale and Darlington Housing Associations. In total it owns and manages 4,000 properties. The original values of honesty, openness, trust, loyalty, and consideration live very strongly at all levels, which is why they have top decile tenant satisfaction levels and IIP comments about being a world-class employer.

Development with Oasis

From the outside, North Star is as it appears to be – a traditionally structured Housing Association. However, venture inside and what is discovered is a vibrant, demanding and relationally orientated environment, operating out of a developing set of shared values rather than organisational structure.

“Culture is not only about what we do, but also about how we do it and why. This is at our heart and is what sets us apart from others. The challenges that we as a society face demand courage, flexibility, innovation, resilience, robust relationships, and dogged determination to make a difference and to keep trying and this requires new and different ways of working. No one person or small group of people has all the answers and therefore we wanted to involve and include more people.”  Carole Richardson, Assistant Director of People Services, North Star Housing Group

The development journey with Oasis began with the CEO and Directors, then all Managers completed an in-house leadership programme, and all staff took part in programme that helped them develop a shared language and understanding of how to work together.

During the first year the CEO, Directors and all managers worked together to develop a shared picture of the future so that everyone understood the direction of travel and their part in making the future happen.

Shared Leadership

North Star has invested in the development of leaders across the organisation and many people are involved in leading the organisation. This is supported by clear decision-making processes at every level. Everyone engages in development and training to enable their skills to be applied flexibly in a way that maximises the impact on the business.

Leading edge people strategies enable a clear approach and consistent management styles.

Adult-to-adult relationships strengthen commitment to fairness, honesty, transparency, and personal responsibility. Everyone is encouraged to be involved within the business, to provide challenge and feedback and are all influential. Uncertainty and change are managed through regular, open dialogue, focused external scanning and good planning which enables North Star to manage risk effectively, think quickly, be creative and remain agile and leading edge.

“We value everyone in this business, and we want them to be involved. I thought we would have a chance to resolve some major challenges through this Shared Leadership process. I was worried about the amount of people who were going off with work-related stress. Stress often comes from people who do not have a voice, and feel frustrated, but have nowhere to go with that – it is often an inability to change things. We opened the doors to Oasis and said, ‘talk to whoever you need to talk to – we need to hear, we need to listen, we need to learn, we need to understand, and we need to change.’ For many just being heard made a big difference. And not only being heard but knowing that what was heard would then translate into changes, was very powerful. Fundamentally it was about developing the right relationships with people. The results of that work were quite significant, better than I could have hoped – and it does make you wonder why others do not do it, because it is not that difficult!”

Angela Lockwood

Chief Executive, North Star Housing Group

Our Impact

Shared leadership has led to business success and recognition and the group has received Investors in People Platinum, the first housing association in the country to do so.

There has been a reduction of 50% in staff sickness. This outcome flies in the face of early detractors who thought North Star ‘mad’ to be undertaking such dramatic shifts in leadership style and approach.

The move away from a transactional model of operating towards one that is more relational, has allowed people to bring more of their ‘whole’ selves to their work life, encouraging, empowering, and enabling everyone to have the opportunity to grow and develop with the organisation.

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