Monday, 2 March 2015

Leadership for Insights

What does SOLACE “Insights” tell us of the leadership traits that will be needed in chief executives and senior managers. 

Shared Services and Collaboration continue to feature highly in local authorities plans to operate more efficiently. The results of a survey of local authority chief executives and senior managers conducted by SOLACE have just been published, entitled “Insights” . Asked what type of innovation they had used in the past twelve months in order to deliver more efficient solutions to address the financial challenges they face second to reducing spend on back office was shared services and management. (66%) When asked to consider the next twelve months top (83%) was partnership working with other organisations with shared services still featuring highly. 

This again reinforces what Public Service Transformation Network and others have been saying, that leaders and managers in the public sector need the skills to lead collaboratively, across organisational boundaries and through influence rather than positional authority.  SSA’s Collaborative Leadership Programme is helping leaders in all parts of the public sector prepare themselves to be successful and embrace the new leadership challenges.

So what are the top five traits of collaborative leaders? Here’s my list let me know yours.

  1. the ability to see things from different perspectives
  2. inner confidence leading to being open to share knowledge, power and credit
  3. invests into relationships and has a network of diverse people
  4. motivated by achieving outcomes rather than position and status
  5. has genuine and wide interests leading to strong contextual intelligence

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

New Year Resolutions - Setting Goals for 2015

I am making new year resolutions by setting goals for 2015 but a number of my friends have said they’re not bothering. Their reason tends to be either they cannot contemplate adding more demands at a time when their life is so busy or that they’ve tried in the past and failed and they fear they’ll do the same again. This might save them from getting their hopes up and avoid possible disappointment but at the cost of living an unfulfilled half-hearted life. Others are too overwhelmed to focus on what is important.  May be I can get them to reconsider and encourage them and you to join me by starting 2015 with purpose and intention. For without resolutions or the setting of goals for 2015 we are in danger of spending the year wandering and blown where the wind (life’s pressures) takes us and finish no closer to fulfilling our dreams at year end than when it started.  We are unlikely to just drift to our desired destination. 

Yes; I’ve heard the statistics and I know that 25% of new years resolutions won’t last a week and after 6 months only 40% will be continuing. I’ve heard that the average person makes the same new year resolution ten times without success. Still I believe that goal setting is a worthwhile exercise it’s just that we need to approach it differently.  

The beginning of a new year establishes a natural rhythm for reflection and preparation.  I shall start by setting aside some time to dream ( to envision ) what the year could bring and what I could achieve. I’ll go somewhere where I wont be distracted and which I find stimulates me. I’ll review the achievements of the past year  and consider what I need to learn from anything that didn’t go to plan but I wont let past disappointments stop me from having fresh excitement and vision. I will also ask myself what needs to be stopped and taken out of my diary for 2015.

To stimulate my thoughts I will remind myself of the things that are important to me in my life and the values by which I have determined I will live my life.  In this way the resolutions or goals that I set myself for 2015 will be linked to what is most important to me. I will be clear not just what the goal is but why it is important to me. I can easily imagine how achieving the goal will contribute to these important things and how this will feel. Also what I will lose if I don’t achieve my goal. In this way the goals I set myself will be compelling and very specific and capable of measurement. Some goals might be suitable to break down into steps to be completed by different times during the year.  I will be able to assess how I’m doing along the journey. Celebrating regular progress towards achieving the goal is rewarding and motivational. Fulfilment is as much about the journey as the destination. 

My goals will cover all areas of my life spiritual, business. family, health & fitness, personal development and charity/voluntary work. Because they will be directly linked to those things which I have previously identified as important to me this will help me throughout the year to say “no”. No to other activities which whilst attractive will not contribute to achieving the most important things. Each month I will measure my progress towards each goal. Constant progress towards a meaningful goal will spur me on. Where a goal is not on track the gap shows where I need to give more attention, effort or willpower. Reviewing progress at regular intervals causes me to keep the resolution fresh and enables me to adjust what I’m doing. 

2015 presents a year full with possibilities. I can choose to make different decisions in 2015 from those I made last year. What am I going to do differently in 2015 that will make this a fulfilling and rewarding year? Why not join me and answer these questions for yourself and set goals for 2015 strongly connected to your life priorities. Goals about which you are clear why you are doing them and how they link with what’s important to you. Goals which you can measure progress towards achieving. Happy 2015.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Trust in Public Sector Collaboration

When we have a choice we collaborate with those we trust.  There are many well publicised local authority shared services which provide good examples of this. However, sometimes formal structures or circumstances require us to collaborate with those not of our choosing.  In these cases the success of the collaboration is determined by the trust between the parties. A high level of trust within an organisation benefits its internal operation and influences the reputation it has with others. With trust being so important it is of concern that the recent report of the Institute of Leadership and Management puts trust in the public sector at such a low.   

High performing local authorities tackle both the challenges of their localities and achieve financial  sustainability and are those who operate collaboratively. The same is true for other public sector bodies. Collaboration might be with other authorities through sharing service delivery to make financial saving and improve standards. Collaboration might be with other public sector organisations tackling wicked issues over which none individually control all the levers of change, such as anti social behaviour, obesity or joblessness. Through commissioning arrangements collaboration might be with the private sector or voluntary sector. Collaboration can be with communities on co-designing and co-delivering leading to redesigned services. Organisations which collaborate well in these ways externally inevitably begin by collaborating well internally. Collaboration becomes part of their DNA. They have what has become widely recognised as “Collaborative Advantage”

Collaborative ventures comprise two elements; the deal and the relationship.  Too often attention focusses on the terms and operation of the deal with insufficient attention given to building and sustaining the relationship. In examining emerging collaborations that then fail to reach completion the reason for this is most often a failure in the relationship. The relationship is important and just as in personal relationships it needs to be worked on if it is to grow and sustain. Once building the relationship is discussed “TRUST” is quickly identified as the most important component. 

Collaboration is important to achieving public value and trust is a determinant of the effectiveness of collaboration. The Institute of Leadership and Management’s recent survey and research   indicates a significant difference in trust levels between different sectors. Trust is lower in the public sector than either the private sector or voluntary sector and the report describes it as a “sector in trouble”, suffering from a trust shortfall. Compared with other sectors and industries Local Government has the lowest trust from its own employees within the organisation and externally is only trusted less than the media and bankers.  

The survey reveals a massive difference in trust levels across sectors with the public sector (29% net high trust) falling significantly behind the private sector (45%) and voluntary sector (46%). Further, 12% of public sector managers say they trust either ‘very few’ or ‘no one’ in their organisation. When asked how much they trusted their own organisation managers in local and central government had the lowest level of trust at 10% net high trust compared with the average of 40% across all industries and sectors. The research also indicated a link between internal trust and external trust suggesting that industries and sectors with low trust internally also suffer from low trust from its customers and stakeholders. Whilst this is of concern it must be noted that the ILM survey groups central  and local government together 

and there is some data to suggest that the picture in local government may not be quite so bleak with regards the trust of their local council by residents. (see graph above)

What then can local government do to address this deficit in trust and what skills and competencies does it need to cultivate? Covey says that trust is based upon character and competence. Based upon the academic literature the ILM identified six determinants of trust in their Index of Leadership Trust. These are ,

  1. Ability - the leader’s ability to do their job
  2. Understanding - displaying knowledge and understanding of their employee’s or reports’ roles and responsibilities
  3. Fairness - behaving fairly and showing concern for the welfare of their employees or reports
  4. Openness - being accessible and receptive to ideas and opinions
  5. Integrity - striving to be honest and fair in decision making
  6. Consistency - behaving in a reliable and predictable manner

The ILM 2014 survey didn’t use their index of leadership trust but instead sought to identify what managers considered to be the fundamental skills and  qualities that leaders need in order to be trusted. Five drivers of trust were clearly identified as the most important in determining whether or not a leader was trusted. 


Being open and fair 
(one of the top three drivers for 77% of people - an open and honest relationship with managers and colleagues)

Being an effective communicator 
(people want to clearly know what is expected and how well they are doing)

Being able to make decisions 
(reassuring demonstrating knowledge, confidence & competence) 

Showing integrity 

Competence in their role

Covey claims low trust results in slow transactions and increased costs between the parties.  Dietz and Gillespie note six positive outcomes of high trust 

Employee Engagement
Operational efficiencies
Cooperation and problem solving
Information sharing and knowledge exchange
A positive work climate
Individual, group and organisational performance

With less emphasis on individual behaviours the LGA, SOLACE and LGComms published a report in 2013 entitled Building Trust - An Action Plan. This report has a communications slant and builds upon earlier work to build the reputation of local government. It concludes that Brand, Leadership and Strategy are the keys to building trust. For the purpose of this article what I find most interesting is the list of benefits accruing from building trust

1. Changes in the way services are delivered 
2. Manage demand for services 
3. Manage expectations of the people and organisations that you serve 
4. Deliver behaviour change 
5. Access capacity within the community to deliver services 
6. Reduce unnecessary contact with the council 
7. Increase engagement with the democratic process 
8. Improve community cohesion and local places themselves 
9. Improve access to and use of services 
10. Boost the morale of staff and elected member 
11. Improve the lives of residents 
12. Better join up local public services 

In 2010 the think tank DEMOS published the second of two pamphlets on trust in local government based upon their own research . They concluded that structural reforms such as elected Mayors and more referendums will not restore trust. Behavioural values and personal interactions are crucial to trust and local authorities need to put relationships at the centre.  Their research revealed three key drivers of trust: service quality, the quality of personal interactions and the perception of fairness in the decision making procedure. The recommendations were for local government to :
  • move beyond satisfaction measures as a measure of effectiveness
  • develop community capacity
  • create space for individual staff to build trust
  • prioritise community engagement in strategic decisions and understanding needs
  • hold open days to meet middle management
  • create citizen advocates
  • promote the role of councillors

In future successful public sector organisations will be those who can effectively collaborate with others. Those seeking to build or rebuild their reputation for collaborative working should begin by improving their levels of trust. The skills can be learnt and developed. Leadership and example from the top is required.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

re-post of Setting Goals

Setting Goals for 2014
by Terry Huggins FRSA, FInstLM, FCMI

As we enter 2014 may people will be setting goals for the coming year, myself included. I believe that goal setting is part of my responsible stewardship of time, talents and resources. If you have already set life goals for yourself this is a good time to review them. If not then why not consider starting this habit now.  “ A (chess) Grandmaster makes the best moves because they are based on what he wants the board to look like in ten or twenty moves in the future “ Garry Kasparov. So it is with life. A vision of the future in ten or twenty years enables you to make moves now that are steps to fulfilling that vision.   

5 tips for setting life goals

# Take time to dream. Dedicate some time and find a physical space where you can withdraw from your normal pace of life and routine in order to dream. For those with a faith prayer will be an important element of this time. 

# Avoid vague goals.  Write down your goals as doing so turns a mere aspiration into a goal. Be clear what you’re aiming to achieve and how you might attain it. We are vague when we don’t want to hold ourselves accountable. Make your goals very specific, make them measurable and assign a due date.  Goals are dreams with deadlines. Always be clear what your next action needs to be towards achieving the goal.

# Set goals for each area of your life.  You may wish to set goals for your work-life, physical well being, spiritual well being, family life and relationships, continuous learning, exciting experiences, influencing others. Don’t just focus on yourself but Include outward facing goals such giving to charity, voluntary work, supporting friends in need. Consider your motivation for each goal and that this aligns with your values.

# Set stretching goals. They should be worthwhile and with a real sense of importance to their accomplishment. This is what will make them compelling. Each should be challenging enough to engage interest and motivate action but not unrealistic. Goals can be an expression of faith. “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it; but that it is too low and we reach it” Michelangelo

# Stay focussed on your goals. Don’t just jot them down on a piece of paper and file it. Keep them visible by placing them where you’ll regularly see them. Maybe a poster above your desk. Diary in time to review progress at monthly intervals and to commit to ‘next step’ actions. Keep your goals to a manageable number and not too many as this helps you stay focussed throughout the year. You might want to share your goals with a friend who will hold you to account throughout the year or work with a mentor. 

Have a productive 2014.

re-post of new year message

Happiness in 2014

Having spent today wishing people a “happy new year” has caused me to reflect upon the drivers of happiness. Research has shown that there is no correlation between wealth or possessions and happiness. The “New Economic Foundation” research for the government in the “Foresight project” produced 5 ways to encourage wellbeing and happiness. Just as we take our five portions of fruit and vegetables each day for our physical well being these are the five things we should take each day for our happiness and mental well being.

# Connect… Connecting with people around you, with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Invest time in developing these relationships will support and enrich every day.

# Be Active…. Go for a walk or run. Cycle. Play a game. Exercise makes you feel good. Find a physical activity that you enjoy and which suits you.

# Take Notice….. Be curious. Catch site of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment. Be aware of the world around you and what you’re feeling. Reflect on your experiences and on what matters to you.

# Keep Learning……Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Learn to play a musical instrument or how to cook your favourite meal. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun.

#Give…. Do something nice for a friend or a stranger. Volunteer your time. Serve your community. Give financially to charity and learn about the causes you give to.

And so, as I wish you a Happy New Year I am wishing for that in 2014 you build strong connections with friends and family, have an active year, that you notice and stay inquisitive about the world in which you live, that you keep learning new things and skills and give generously of yourself and your resources to benefit others. Happy New Year. 

Terry Huggins

1st January, 2014

Leading Yourself - Focus

A prerequisite of being a good leader is the ability to lead yourself.  That of being a person with a sense of purpose to your life, built upon an understanding and awareness of your own values. This sense of purpose is essential for the drive, determination and persistence which a leader needs if their vision for the future is not to remain as just a dream. The ability to keep your focus on what you want to be.  Poor leaders of self often use their circumstances as an excuse for a lack of focus. I was heartened and encouraged whilst watching the BBC TV documentary programme on the making of the song for the Queen’s jubilee to hear an interview with a young blind man called Michael. Michael is a drummer and lives in the slums of Nairobi. This is what he said
“No matter what you go through. No matter what difficulties you have.You still have to stay strong. You don’t have to break down and give up on everything. You need to keep your head up and KEEP FOCUSING on what you want to be”

Local Government Challenge 5 : Breckland

Once again it was a privilege to support Richard Wills of Breckland Training Services who organised an excellent day for the fifth challenge of the 2014 LG Challenge. The winner will be chosen at the LGA conference in July.