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Solace blog

27th May 2016

Striving for Total Leadership

There has often been a debate about what makes a good leader: knowledge; authenticity; drive; empathy; and, for some, even heroism. But there can be no debate that leadership can always be improved; or that, in the context of local government, it needs more investment.

Significant attempts have been made to improve leadership over the last decades, especially in helping managers and politicians to work together, and this has produced results. We have learned to understand what works. Local public services are now in the foothills of even more dramatic change. Re-thinking how we achieve the essential outcomes the public needs has never been more important.

Leadership at all levels needs to change. Our society, technology, and essential business model is being disrupted. We no longer view challenges in a linear way, resolved through the command of hierarchies. Our communities are increasingly complex, operating through networks, behaving as systems. This requires leaders to be less focused on organisations and more on people, being comfortable with ambiguity and good at collaboration and building trust.

The biggest barriers to setting places free to bring about change are not technology- or resource-based. They stem from people’s existing notions of what is possible. They are behavioural and our style of leadership needs to reflect that.

At Solace we know that personalised approaches to improving leadership do work. Action Learning, mentoring, coaching and peer-to-peer initiatives, for example, have led to many leaders adapting their skills sets and learning how to improve services faster.

Our flagship programme for aspiring Chief Executives, ‘Total Leadership’ seeks to create and grow a style of leadership across the whole sector that creates a renewed sense of purpose and hope for all, and where leaders are seen to genuinely empower staff, at all levels, to innovate without fear of failure, effectively communicating and collaborating across organisational structures and being held accountable for delivering outcomes.

However, we don’t want a ‘sheep-dip’ approach. It has to be adaptable. By working in partnership with the University of Birmingham, we are able to mould experienced professional practice with academic rigour to create a programme steeped in the realities of local government and flexible enough to respond to individuals’ needs and learning styles.

That is one reason why our first cohort included aspiring Chief Executives not just from all aspects of UK local government, but also leaders from the private sector able to bring an exciting new perspective to the group’s learning experience.

Critically, we have ensured that this is delivered to a recognised high level of quality, and has created a cadre of incredibly effective and highly marketable leaders.

Perhaps more than ever, Leaders need to go further in their demands of what is available to them and what their own needs are. Organisations should invest time and resources in creating a continuous learning culture, and individual leaders embrace the notion that their ‘training’ is never finished.

If you want to hear more about Solace’s flagship ‘Total Leadership’ programme and find out about our next group starting this summer, contact to arrange an introductory conversation. You can download the programme brochure here

Solace has a compelling development offer for graduates, future and aspiring leaders. Our attention is now focused on creating a new programme that reflects the needs and aspirations of existing Chief Executives. We look forward to sharing more about this over the summer.