Settling in

It’s been an excellent first week for me in Staffordshire County Council. Many thanks to everybody – members and staff – for making me so welcome. The large number of people whom I met during my selection process left me with a very positive impression of the organisation and the people. If anything, last week reinforced and increased this.

I’m getting to grips with our strategy and transformation programmes, in terms of learning and understanding. I’m particularly interested in commissioning as a concept, and I think that we’re on the right track, but in certain areas we have some way to go to connect the strategy with the services that people across Staffordshire make use of. That is, in my own experience, not unusual, and it is also not unusual that this should take some time – it takes leadership to build confidence and trust in new ways of working, if we are to bring people with us.

Talking of leadership, I’ve been struck by how often we in SCC talk about it – perhaps surprisingly, much more than in the Army which I’ve just left. For me, it is about getting people to do things willingly, with the emphasis on willingly. As I mentioned above, it’s about building mutual trust, respect and confidence between leaders and led. It doesn’t happen overnight – it’s difficult to establish and easy to lose.

My preference is to get out of my office as much as possible and meet you in your workplace; I’ve managed to get around HR and a bit of Place so far. As always, I always get much more out of listening to views and opinions in a relaxed environment than in a formal briefing. If you see me around your office, do please grab me and tell me what you’re up to – I genuinely want to know.

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