#LGE2019 – Celebrating the Impact of System Leadership
“Aghhh – what AM I doing?!”
These are just some of the reflections from colleagues who pioneered the #LGE experience in 2018-19.
Over nine months, 50 aspiring leaders from across the Essex public sector and voluntary and community sector have had a chance to engage deeply with ideas and approaches for leading in and across a complex system.
At a reflection and celebration event last month the participants gathered together with the Chief Officer sponsors to reflect on the experience, and the highs and lows of deliberately putting themselves beyond their comfort zones to learn to lead differently.
Everyone’s learning journey was different. Some of the intellectual frames really excited some people; others found their confidence growing around the use of new tools and methods such as the Public Narrative approach for engaging with citizens, or assessing the multiple causes of complex problems. Many people had periods of questioning and even some confusion! Crucially, the learning journeys were travelled together: colleagues loved the support of their fellow travellers, from the informal camaraderie to semi-structured peer coaching and tackling problems together in small groups.
Celebrating the impact of system leadership
Senior sponsors from local government, Police, Fire, health and the VCS commented on the way they have benefited from learning with and from the #LGE2018 cohort:
“Leading Greater Essex is a way of holding the mirror up to the system, and to us as leaders. Participants are exploring and asking questions about how we collaborate, how we come together to solve problems for Essex citizens across our organisational boundaries. They are helping us to see where our ways of thinking and doing might need to change.”
Together with senior sponsors participants celebrated the learning and achievements of the whole #LGE2018 cohort, many of whom had to show real tenacity to commit themselves to attend the sessions and carve out the time to grow their system leadership skills in real work despite busy day jobs and who are committed to continuing to pursue change in their chosen enquiry beyond the end of the formal programme.
LGE inspires systems place shaping in Basildon
Putting learning into practice: Stuart Young, Basildon Borough Council
“These are exciting times for Basildon Council. We have a refreshed corporate plan, a programme to support it and a new top team raring to go. This also makes it the perfect time to pause and think. Thinking about our place in a broader system of delivery to residents with complex demands.
“Basildon was in the unusual position of a new top team all joining just as the #LGE2018 launched. Five of us joined the cohort and began to weave LGE thinking into the whole system surrounding our work in Basildon.
“The programme has given us a shared language and reference for making sense of that complexity, and an opportunity to reflect on how to take people with us on the journey from service delivery to leadership of place.
“As a Council we are now looking at ways to integrate our learning into the organisation. We have adapted the way we engage people in change, we have better diagnosis of issues, and we have a new toolbox of techniques. Those softer skills are supplemented by a Council wide programme of projects. We have aligned some of that change to the Future of Essex Vision, for example our digital strategy, health and wellbeing policy, and Breakthrough Basildon Commission.
“You’ll see that the brochure for #LGE2019 rightly states that the longest lever we have at our disposal is leadership. #LGE2019 provides an ideal platform to explore and understand system wide challenges and opportunities. As the brochure says ”this is not a training course…”, it’s much more.”
Being comfortable with discomfort
“Hi…..I’m Tomi Platts. The next question is usually ‘what do I do’? Technically, I work as a Head of Portfolio for Essex County Council. The reality of what I do is that I work with a team of people to deliver changes that improve services for our residents.
“When I was asked to participate in #LGE2018 I didn’t really know what to expect. I found the opening residential session in Southend (July 2018) intriguing and I started to think about some of the facts and insight that had been shared over those two days. Two startling stats stayed with me – the rise of county lines in Essex and the impact of poor mental health. Weeks on, I couldn’t forget that I had heard that one in four people suffer from poor mental health at a point in their lives.
“Fast forward to January 2019 and our small team of four; Paul Nagle and Tracey Harman from Essex Police; Luke McKenzie from Rochford District Council and I, were focused on mental health, specifically trying to understand the sorts of interventions that would be most effective in supporting those impacted by mental ill-health (focusing on those at the lower end of need).
“As a team, we put ourselves out there. We’d made new relationships through# LGE2018 and through these we heard people’s stories. From service users, commissioners, public, voluntary sector and providers, they trusted us with their stories and this was a privilege. Speaking honestly, it was hard and sometimes uncomfortable – this was new to us, we are not the experts.
“The public narrative sessions helped us to tell their story and ours, to understand how to motivate you to care and to take action. Because that is the way change happens, at all levels.
“To #LGE2019 participants, I guess my advice would be….
“Expect the unexpected – as it turns out, that sums up system change pretty well. You will sometimes feel as if you are ‘mirroring’ the system you’re trying to affect or change. It gets tough. And it can be really uncomfortable.
“It really is relationships that make all the difference to our work, that’s why it is important to be with people who will pull you through (and you will do the same for them). That is why it is important to choose a topic that you are passionate about; because when it gets hard (and it will); it is that passion and your tribe that will create impact.
“Good luck and enjoy!”
James Sinclair, Braintree District Council, left land Tomi Platts, Essex County Council, right.
Thoughts from the LGE Chief Design Team
“In designing Leading Greater Essex (LGE) together with existing and emerging senior leaders across the Essex system, and ThePublicOffice, we didn’t intend to create a leadership programme per se; what we really want is system change.
“As current Chief Executives and partners delivering the Future of Essex vision, we have declared our shared intention to grow capacity to lead complex change across the county for the benefit of citizens.
“Our shared investment in, and commitment to, the LGE initiative is one expression of this ambition. We believe that the potential of each year of #LGE is not simply to offer an opportunity for 50 individuals to develop as leaders, but for the whole system to learn with them as they explore the challenges of leading in complexity in the Essex context, and grow as a movement for change, sharing a common language and approach.”
Our aims for #LGE2019 are:
- To bring together a new cohort of emerging leaders from across Essex (Police, Fire, local government, health, VCS etc);
- Expose them to new thinking and methods for leading in complexity and across systems;
- Help them to apply this learning to priority challenges for the County, working together; and
- For the wider system to be able to learn with, and from, their deepening understanding and experience of systems change in Essex.
#LGE2018 built on the foundations established in the Greater Essex Leadership Collaborative 2017, and in turn, #LGE2019 has been further developed in the light of learning from #LGE2018. As sponsors we are working to support all those who have taken part in GELC and LGE to form a strong alumni including developing an online network.
LGE Sponsorship Group
#LGE2019 – This is not a training course
Leading Greater Essex #LGE2019 is an opportunity for 50 aspiring and senior leaders to come together to develop their capabilities and confidence as system leaders.
#LGE2019 is for people who wish to take their skills in managing and leading change to the next level, who realise that they need to learn how to think differently and do differently, who are open, curious, and thirsty for challenge and disruption that will bring about change in the Essex public services system.
What does #LGE2019 involve?
Running from May 2019 until March 2020:
- 10 days of contact time as a cohort (including a 2-day residential), to explore theories, approaches and methodologies, and practical tools and technologies for leading change;
- An additional 3-4 days to apply learning by taking action in real, priority work linked to the Future of Essex Vision and strategic plans agreed by partners across Essex;
- Active reflection and developing new insights about change in Essex;
- Engaging with senior leaders across Essex to explore how we might collectively do complex change differently across Essex for the benefit of citizens.
Participant fee of £2,000 will be paid on acceptance onto the programme and will be non-refundable (NB; VCS applicants can apply for one of five bursary funded places).
Interested? Want to know more?
Please find the full brochure here, noting dates for #LGE2019 events towards the back, we recognize local elections may mean the first date is tricky for some, if you are able to make all other dates please do proceed with your application.
Participants need senior sponsorship from within their organisation. Applications are made online here.
If you have any queries please email [email protected] or call Kate Crofts on 07775407902.
The deadline for applying is 17:00 24 April 2019.