This year’s LGC survey on the future of local government, supported by Hay Group, finds that local authorities’ primary role is to be a ‘leader of place’, driving investment and regeneration.
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Alongside this, the survey shows that they value being a champion of citizens as well as fostering health and wellbeing within their community. So what’s the best way to do all this?
The structure and culture of public services will need to be radically different and not just the lowest common denominator of existing organisations. Regions may need a new operating model and way of operating successfully for the whole area, disregarding traditional organisational boundaries. Leaders across public services may need to rethink their processes and how they use technology. They need to retain and recruit the right people with the right skills - which will become more challenging as the economy grows and competition increases.
We can learn a lot from looking at how the most effective councils operate. The best of them have strong leaders who nurture a culture of trust within the authority and with other partners. The most successful chief executives are persuasive leaders who initiate meaningful discussions on how best to deliver
projects, and are not afraid to look at alternative ways. They cooperate and collaborate at a strategic level. They are able to convince partners that working together will bring value, that those monthly meetings are not a chore, but will create better services and drive better outcomes. They break down
silos and ensure that partners work together for the benefit of the place as a whole, not their own institutions. The leadership says what it means and acts on what it says. They come up with robust business cases for change, with concrete actions and a commitment to see these plans through, putting them
in a better position to take advantage of opportunities.
Strong leadership and effective collaboration will become a necessity going forward. In the future there are likely to be fewer chief executives managing integrated councils with a greater footprint. Leaders will need the skills to overcome tensions between different organisations, as groups come together across regions to make better decisions on how to operate and how to spend budgets.
With a progressive culture, decisive leadership, appropriate partners, supportive structures and the right skills, councils will be enabled to deliver the best outcomes for their place and all the people in it.
Jonathan Magee is head of local government practice at Hay Group
Article sponsored by Hay Group