A new local government leadership center, due to be opened later in the year, is at the core of the leadership strategy launched by the Leadership Development Commission. Other elements of the strategy, which provides a framework to stimulate leadership development at the individual, team, local authority and national levels, seeks to secure the contributions of other stakeholders, including political parties. The Commission was set up in 2002 to ‘review the current situation in leadership and leadership development’. It is made up from elected members and senior managers in local government, central government, employer’s organizations, leadership development practitioners and academics.The Leadership Centre is a joint venture between the Office of Public Sector Reform, The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the LGA, the IDeA, the Employers Organisation and SOLACE. It was conceived to address the gap in leadership development that is increasingly apparent in the public sector in general, with a particular emphasis on local government. The centre will build on the work of the Commission and will have a remit for sharing and disseminating best practice in leadership and leadership development across the sector, as well as creating or ‘badging’ targeted leadership development programmes reflecting the specific needs of senior officers and elected members.
Leadership development within local authorities will be fostered by linking internal programmes to the strategy. This will include issues of succession planning, and attracting, recruiting and retaining top quality applicants for senior management positions, including those from non-local authority backgrounds. All Authorities will undertake a regular overall self assessment of their leadership capabilities using a diagnostic tool. They will also be encouraged to use a nationally agreed framework of leadership capacities as part of their selection processes for leadership roles, both political and managerial.
The strategy also addresses the issues of increasing the number of good candidates for election as councillors and of developing their capacities. Currently 44% of the 21,000 elected members are 60 or over and only 230 pounds per member is spent per year on their development. National political parties are being asked to develop initiatives to attract top quality candidates for political office. They will also be asked to consider initiatives that would encourage a diversity of people to consider standing for election and particularly to support a range of people from under represented groups and backgrounds to become local authority councillors.