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Leadership Development in South Riding Council

The recruitment and retention of key staff is not easy in an area hit by a long-term decline in the local economy, following the decline in traditional and manufacturing industries like coal mining, ship building and steel making. The quality and performance of leadership within the council was highlighted in the findings of several external audits covering education provision and overall council performance against key indicators. These audits, conducted within a three year period in the mid sass, concluded that the council was lacking in strategic direction.

At the end of the decade a similar message was being repeated by Audit Commission inspectors during the first statutory comprehensive performance assessment (CPA). The resultant Impact on the organization cannot be overstated – staff morale plummeted and turnover Increased with the loss of organizational knowledge being a major outcome. Internal staff surveys indicated that the lack of strategic leadership was felt acutely by council staff as well as being identified by external bodies.

Human Resource Development in general was considered weak with staff reporting a lack of direction in career management and poor professional development provision. Deputy Chief Executive Kevin Harper commented that: ‘Our changing environment aught us out – we were reacting to uncontrollable circumstances. This highlighted a weakness generally in strategic leadership across the council. We need to retain key staff and Improve our talent management programmer. We can ‘t Just rely on staff replacement to keep the council running so we need to think about staff development and growing our own. Central to this vowels was improving leadership and management skills. A new HRS strategy was launched In 2009 with leadership improvement Its key component. The strategy committed south Riding council to establishing an organization wide framework to ; develop leadership skills at political and senior managerial levels . More recently, the council has invested time and money in shorter-term projects to enhance desired leadership skills. The latest initiative has been the creation of a leadership institute. The Leadership Institute (Al) was launched in 2010 in conjunction with a local higher education provider.

It’s focus is on improving management and leadership skills throughout the organization to aid succession planning. Commenting on the Al initiative Harper said: ‘There is always plenty of hidden talent in a local council. People may be doing amazing things outside work, but because they are not properly engaged at work their potential Is not fully realized. ‘ The Al has established a one year learning programmer based on current Issues In local government leadership. The programmer Includes a range of teaching and learning methods from ‘master classes’ on topics such as sessions on staff engagement and organizational commitment.

The programmer also involves one-to-one mentoring, group coaching and individual action learning work. The L’, although a recent development, has seen promising early returns on the investment of time and money. Sickness and absence levels are falling and levels of satisfaction in leadership are rising. The clearest indication of improvement can be seen in the most recent statutory performance assessment results. The council is now rated as four-star, excellent and improving strongly in the process, rather than a fair’ rating in the 2006.

Harper comments: ‘The Council still has some way to go and we are not complacent but initial signs are encouraging. Leaders now feel supported ND more confident in their capacity to make decisions and staff know they are being listened to. The leadership institute will continue to help with this development. ‘ Peter Rickrack, the council’s innovation manager – a rank Just below head of service level – is part of the council’s leadership institute. He has seen an immediate impact on his practice and adds: ‘It is a fantastic chance for people to learn about their own leadership style and how they can develop this.

No-one on the programmer is expecting promotion Just because we are on this, but we know it will help us make he most of our talents and careers. ‘ Keith Harper has overseen the Al from its inception and works closely with the council’s organizational development team. The Al has cost approximately EYE,OHO in its first year but the savings alone in staff absence reduction mean that the Al will break even financially. Harper knows however that the major challenge will be overcoming the traditional organizational culture and bringing on staff who may not easily identify themselves with a leadership role.

The Al is partly aimed at unlocking hidden potential, but most of the antedates have so far come from senior positions. He said: ‘We were hoping to get people from all levels and it is something we will be looking to do more in the future… We know there are a lot of talented people out there who are still not being reached. Please consider the following: 1. Outline and discuss how the South Riding Council approach to leadership development maps on to the major trends in leadership development. 2. Critically analyses the potential benefits and drawbacks of this leadership development approach for the Council.