At a SOLACE (Society of Local Authority Chief Executives) conference I attended recently we were challenged to think about Leadership. The backdrop was addressing some of the macro aspects such as climate change, an ageing population, reducing resources and at the micro level what we experience locally around outcomes, engagement and productivity.
Several of the presenters focussed on effective co production, improving communication with the people we are working with and understanding what are they looking for and working towards. People certainly need that clarity of purpose as to where they fit in and we also need to create an environment where they feel comfortable to step forward and offer their support.
They also need to be competent to do the role which is where training comes in and have the information and confidence that enables them to make a decision, even if quite often they don’t have all the information that could be available. Maybe the link back to experimenting to find an answer out, knowing there is no perfect answer, trying and letting things fail quickly are all things that I recognised from my science background.
We sometimes also to rush towards solutions to get onto the next thing, Sacha Romanovitch, CEO at Grant Thornton as well as setting out these leadership skills also provided a simple example of jumping to a decision too quickly.
There are two team members, both want the orange that you have in your hand, you could quickly decide which one was more worthy or just divide the orange in half. However, on asking you find one wants the juice for a drink and the other wants the rind for a cake. Both requirements are met through connecting with the individuals and communication.
With the digital world that connectivity is now much wider, we need to think about our language (particularly in engaging with the third sector and people outside local government), be comfortable to share initial ideas and collaborate through digital means, make greater use of video material and create channels for people to respond and contribute.
Leadership is about being agile and alive to these opportunities and creating space for people to come together on projects and let them look at the whole picture. They will identify issues, create relationships and will still probably need our help in making the decisions. How many of our people would say they are working on a project at the moment and on something that is delivering change, think about how you can get people more project focussed and having a feeling they have had a part to play in a successful outcome.
So what have you tried that is new recently? Not through cascading this down but in a networked and agile way with a wider range of people having the opportunity to contribute.