Human Resouce Management
Leadership skills development is often a neglected area in local councils across the UK. South Riding Council has sought to address this issue through establishing its own local leadership institute.
The council, like all other local authorities, is facing the challenge of developing the leaders of tomorrow within a turbulent operating environment. 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 …show more content…
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 and 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 Rickman, 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 programme is expecting promotion just because we are on this, but we know it will help us make the most of our talents and careers.`
Keith Harper has overseen the LI from its inception and works closely with the council’s organisational development team. The LI has cost approximately £45,000 in its first year but the savings alone in staff absence reduction mean that the LI will break even financially. Harper knows however that the major challenge will be overcoming the traditional organisational culture and bringing on staff who may not easily identify themselves with a leadership role. The LI is partly