Learning from Gareth Southgate, and celebrating our achievements

I spent Wednesday in London at the National Leadership Centre event for the UK’s public sector leaders.  Apparently, there are about 1000 people spread across Government, the Civil Service, the NHS, universities, local authorities and the Armed Forces who have been identified, and the aim is to develop our leadership such that we achieve better outcomes for the country.  Being naturally optimistic but healthily sceptical, I went along with relatively modest expectations, but was delighted that the event exceeded my hopes. 

The workshops were probably the bit that were flattest and worked the least well, but I have to share two talks which really struck a chord with me – Gareth Southgate and Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller.  Eliza ran MI5 and is a redoubtable lady, but what was interesting was that behind the slightly brusque Establishment façade lies a very caring person who goes out of her way to nurture people whom she leads.  Gareth Southgate was excellent.  He always comes across as a very decent, slightly modest man, but his talk revealed a little more than one sees in television interviews.  He is modest, but he is more generous than modest; he invariably and quickly shares any credit with others, and equally quickly owns any criticism without deflecting it.  He also demonstrates a calmness that is remarkable given his role, along with a quiet and understated confidence.  Between them, they reminded me of a number of qualities and behaviours on which I will be working in the coming weeks and months.

Many thanks to everybody who submitted entries for the MJ Awards this week.  We took a slightly different approach this year, allowing individual managers to submit their entries rather than having a centralised mechanism through the SLT and the Communications Team.  Let’s see how it goes, but I was very impressed with the energy and passion in the entries that I saw, which was the aim of freeing you up to shout about what you are doing.  We are guilty in Staffordshire of sometimes underplaying our achievements, and I have noticed at several local government events that other authorities make large of things that we do rather better than them.  Only last week, Helen Riley noted that the Department of Education were off to visit a city authority who were doing something apparently very novel with their youth service, something that we have been doing for about 7 years!   There is of course a balance – back to Gareth Southgate – but we should probably be a little more confident in what we are doing for the residents of Staffordshire. 

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