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Solace blog

17th September 2015

Reflections on the Solace Springboard programme

Last week, the 2015 SOLACE Springboard group got together for our 4th one-day session of the 12-month programme, this time up at the Council House in Birmingham. It is only now that we are starting to get to know each other a little better, aided by a wonderful meal at Pushkar on Broad Street the night before. We are an eclectic bunch – a mix of officers from English and Scottish local authorities and a wide set of skills and experience ranging across all sectors. But one thing we have in common is a desire to go further into senior leadership in local government and a curiosity to understand both what that looks like and how to get there.

The Springboard programme brings that insight, through a series of one-day workshops where chief executives and other senior leaders share their own journey, with other speakers invited to talk about some key issues facing local government now and in the future. Together they challenge us to think about the role of a senior leader in local government, both now and in the future, and the skills we will need to lead such significant change in future.

For me, Springboard is helping my understanding of local government and whether it’s the place for me. I’m only two years into this sector having spent the last ten years or so in the NHS and civil service. One thing the programme offers is a mentor and mine, Trevor Holden has been supportive and suitably challenging. It is great to test my thinking on the changes we are making in Haringey with a senior leader who is sitting outside the organisation, but also talk frankly about how I can develop my career path.

As we approach the end of the programme, the group’s discussion has centred more on how we maintain the networks we have created. As we talked over our curry in Birmingham, it became clear that not only do we want to hear about the skills needed to be a senior leader in local government, but we also have a lot to offer now. So in the usual reflection time we have at Springboard sessions, we floated the idea of integrating ourselves more into the SOLACE policy networks and offering our help to work on some of the tough issues that these networks are trying to solve. So at the SOLACE conference next month, you may well find some of us grabbing time with you in the margins of seminars to talk about how we might do that.

The thing about development programmes is that you can easily soak up the material when you are there then promptly retreat into the day job. But we need to grasp this opportunity as the beginning of our journey into senior leadership and help those that are already there solve some of the issues of today.

By Sanjay Mackintosh, Head of Strategic Commissioning, London Borough of Haringey