Re-designing digital-led leadership development at Shelter

Jane Meggison-Hill explains why and how she’s created a new digital-led leadership offering at Shelter.

Shelter has been a member of the Charity Learning Consortium since 2006. The charity uses the learning management system, eLearning suite and specific coaching resources that we provide.

The housing and homelessness charity Shelter previously had a traditional, face-to-face leadership development programme, but only about 24 people a year went through it. The charity was looking for a more accessible, inclusive and cost effective way to develop its approx 300 leaders. A pioneering new self-directed approach, with digital content at its heart, was the answer.

Jane Meggison-Hill, Learning & Organisational Development Business Partner at Shelter, started by carrying out research, to find out what kind of leadership was needed. The final definition of leadership came from a very thorough, collaborative process carried out over almost a year. 

This included:

  • Running focus groups
  • Speaking to staff at all levels, as well as line managers and senior leaders
  • Engaging with champions of organisational culture, as well as employee affinity groups for people with common interests
  • Carrying out surveys 
  • Using leadership diagnostic tools

“I started by trying to understand where we are now and what sort of leadership we need to deliver our strategy going forward. We know that having a clear vision, and a definition of what great leadership looks like, will give us clarity and focus to design our learning content.” 

This resulted in a definition of what good leadership looks like at Shelter, with 10 defined leadership habits. 

10 key leadership habits at Shelter:

  1.  Prioritise coaching
  2.  Empower performance
  3.  Build trusting relationships
  4.  Communicate openly and often
  5.  Create inclusion
  6.  Champion change
  7.  Work collaboratively
  8.  Remain accountable for decisions and results
  9.  Influence effectively
  10.  Provide strategic direction

Jane Meggison-Hill, Learning & Organisational Development Business Partner at Shelter

Leading self is effectively an 11th habit as it underpins everything

The research identified some specific issues that needed to be addressed, chiefly leadership inconsistency. But it also revealed some leadership strengths, such as support and empowerment. Having identified the key gaps, Jane had a clear idea of the leadership habits to focus efforts on first.

“Throughout the pandemic our leaders continued to support teams and produce results under the most extraordinary circumstances. So it was important to acknowledge the contribution and effort our leaders have made but also look to how we can upskill and equip them for the future.” 

Survey questions to define what leadership at Shelter looked like

1. What one word would you use to describe the current leadership at Shelter?
2. What are the leadership qualities that impact you in a positive and motivational way?
3. What are the leadership qualities that impact you in a less positive and motivational way?

Blended approach

Jane started to create a self-led leadership programme based on the three Es: 

Educate (formal learning)
Workshops & webinars

Experience (learning on the job)
Videos & podcasts

Exposure (learning with others)
Cohort learning
Group work
Mentoring & coaching

Digital delivery, using good quality, engaging content, is at the centre of this continuous learning approach, with resources accessed via the learning management system (LMS) provided by the Charity Learning Consortium. 

Ultimately, each leadership habit will have its own clearly labelled category and pathway on the LMS. Within each category there will be a wide variety of digital content, such as micro learning, TED Talks and other curated resources, alongside off-the-shelf eLearning from the Consortium. Some bespoke videos, created in partnership with the Consortium, are also available.

Digital learning will be supported with opportunities to practise and collaborate with others, for example through group coaching, webinars, discussion groups and facilitated workshops. 

“Most learning will be accessed online, but we will bring people together for discussion and practical sessions afterwards,” explains Jane. 


Called The LEAD Framework, the programme was launched in March 2022. Initially it focused on the core habits: leading self; empowering performance, prioritising coaching and building trusting relationships.

Eight launch sessions ran over several months, with most of Shelter’s approx 300 leaders attending and giving enthusiastic feedback.

Push to pull

Jane’s greatest challenge has been turning initial enthusiasm from busy leaders into a commitment. 

Content may be prescribed for some groups – such as first time managers – and priority topics – such as anti-racism. But generally, leaders are being asked to take ownership of their own development plan and choose their learning journey.

The suggested commitment is:

  • Three hours per month
  • Or one and a half days per quarter
  • Or six days a year

This innovative move from ‘push’ to ‘pull’ learning – from a traditional leadership development programme to flexible, self-directed, continuous learning – doesn’t happen overnight.

Learning collectives 

To meet this challenge, Jane has explored cohort learning, bringing together a pilot group of 12 learners as a collective. The pilot focused on three key topics and participants met over three months, completing digital learning and then coming together to talk about it. Learners worked through a mix of facilitated activities, designed to help them embed one of Shelter’s Leadership Habits. The pilot received very positive feedback and Jane is currently planning on rolling out the approach more widely. 

Feedback from the cohort learning pilot: The most useful part of the experience has been the structure, the way the digital content is broken up into sections interspersed with discussions means I get it done. The discussions help embed the learning – if I just went through the learning on my own I am sure I would get less benefit from it.”

Having successfully run the pilot, Jane’s focus is on increasing the opportunities for people to come together and do more social learning in cohorts, to help people move from ‘push’ to ‘pull’. 

“We want to help people become more self-led in their learning. And when they go through one of the cohorts together that itself builds a learning habit, as well as helping them to engage with the content and make changes off the back of it,” she explains.

As Jane adds, it’s been a real labour of love: “You can’t just flick a switch and have 300 engaged line managers overnight. It’s going to take time. But little by little, we’re getting there.”

“We’re really working on creating a more effective learning culture, where everybody takes ownership of their own development and is prioritising learning across the whole organisation.”

The ultimate aim is to provide a consistent, human-centric approach to leadership at Shelter, so that no matter where someone sits in the organisation they feel valued, supported and able to do their best work. 

About Jane Meggison-Hill

Jane Meggison-Hill is the Learning & Organisational Development Business Partner at Shelter


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Whether you’re making the case to start your eLearning journey or are looking to enhance the investment you’ve already made, these are the benefits of eLearning that will deliver significant results. 

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