An exciting journey on the road to change
The LGC Future Leaders Network, in association with BT, aims to support local government’s emerging talent. Here Andrea Sturgess reflects on the north-west meeting
Warrington BC’s landmark golden gates proved the perfect conversational ice-breaker for those who passed through them en route to the northern launch of LGC’s Future Leaders Network.
The delegates list was a reminder of the massive scope of the sector, ranging from a head of policy to a chief finance officer. It provided a welcome break from the silo nature of other networks.
The perfect level of intimacy was achieved in the surprisingly small council chamber, helped by the use of small break-off groups. Speakers included Northamptonshire CC chief executive Paul Blantern, who is listed in LGC50’s ‘ones to watch’.
He shared the floor with the engaging Warrington BC chief executive Diana Terris. Both gave frank and fascinating insights into their approach to leadership, what makes them tick and life at the top of their organisations.
The delegates offered up themes and issues in an almost ‘unconference’ style, which Paul and Diana then covered. There was no shortage of powerful illustrative anecdotes from the pair.
Looking back on my notes from the day, I see a lot about leadership styles and organisational culture, networking and public affairs. The presentation from BT on collaboration was appealing, given Blackburn with Darwen’s well-established strategic partnership and our unique approach to health integration.
The session was billed as an opportunity to “develop skills in commercial and business acumen”, given its increasing role in local government. It met that objective. I didn’t agree with every view put forward. As much as I admired and could relate to Paul’s energy and dedication - given my workaholic tendencies - I can’t accept that the only way to be an effective leader is to work virtually 24/7.
Each point made by the speakers and delegates challenged my thinking. The final speaker, Nev Wilkinson, played a big part. He made sure everybody left the room with sound tips to help them on their improvement journey. My communications background means I had a bit of an advantage when he evangelised about social networking. I never fail to be shocked when I hear people referring to it as a passing fad.
Overall the session provided a good balance of practical, non-patronising advice and debate. What came across strongly was that whatever we think about the massive change in the landscape, it’s a very exciting time to be in this sector.
There was no shortage of ‘nuggets’ to take away. The top three for me were:
- Focus on trust, relationship building and understanding cultures in any partnership
- Passion for the job is vital
- Do your research and embrace social media.
Andrea Sturgess, deputy head of communications, Blackburn with Darwen BC
The north-west network
The Future Leaders Network comprises seven regional groups across the country. The north-west network met in Warrington. It heard from LGC deputy editor Robin Latchem, Northamptonshire CC’s Paul Blantern, Warrington BC’s Diana Terris, Nev Wilkinson, managing director of Attenti and Bridget Taylor, public sector lead for BT. View the presentation slides at: LGCplus.com/5042570.article. The north-west group members are:
- Dyane Aspinall, assistant director adults, Liverpool City Council
- Alison Cresswell, head of service, Stockport MBC
- Jamie Dixon, head of streetscene and leisure contracts, Chorley BC
- David Galvin, assistant director housing futures, Salford City Council
- Tim Gibbs, head of policy and development services, Halton BC
- Lynton Green, chief finance officer, Warrington BC
- Kathryn Griffiths, assistant director partnerships and performance, Warrington BC
- Lisa Hooley, head of workforce and core strategy, Trafford MBC
- Sharon Kemp, assistant chief executive, Manchester City Council
- Ian Kershaw, head of financial management, Trafford MBC
- Sarah Maynard, programme manager, Trafford MBC
- Julie Monk, assistant director, environmental services, technical services, Eden DC
- Alun Morgan, head of operations, Trafford MBC
- Steve Reddy, assistant director, adult social care, Warrington BC
- Paul Shackley, deputy chief executive, Allerdale BC
- Cathy Starbuck, assistant director universal services, Salford City Council
- Andrea Sturgess, deputy head of communications, Blackburn with Darwen BC
The future leaders on LinkedIn
Delegates broke into small groups before the speeches to feed back subjects of interest. Topics included collaboration, engagement with communities, ‘being radical’ and networking.
Alison Cresswell, Stockport MBC
“The speakers were informative, interesting in their anecdotes and case studies and helpful without being patronising. The range of backgrounds was interesting and more might be made of that in the future, as well as peer support and challenge.”
David Galvin, Salford City Council
“I found the event extremely useful and thought provoking, particularly when we focused on the implications of budget reductions. It was refreshing to take time out and to hear the views of existing chief executives on how local government is likely to shape up.”