A new model of values-based leadership needs to be developed across the public sector to transform service delivery in line with the Government’s localism agenda.
Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and the Public Sector People Managers’ Association explored how chief executives and HR directors are leading the transformation. The research involved local service organisations including local government, police and fire services.
The report highlights the priority chief executives are placing on involving staff in creating new values that underpin the new customer-centric service delivery cultures they are trying to build. The research demonstrates that a radical re-engineering of public service delivery, coupled with cost cutting, can’t happen overnight – it involves changing public sector values and culture, as well as how people are led and managed from the boardroom to the front line.
Many of the leaders interviewed have recognised that if public services are to engage staff to innovate and respond to changing customer requirements, then leadership can no longer remain in the realm of the executive board alone.
Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD said: “The public sector leaders featured in this report recognise that the only way that public services can be made more efficient and more responsive to the needs of service users is if employees on the front-line are trusted to innovate and are empowered to act with more autonomy. This requires a fundamental culture change away from traditional command and control styles of leadership to one in which leadership is distributed across organisations. This will not happen overnight and can only be achieved if managers at all levels are equipped with the necessary leadership skills to involve and engage their staff. These same skills are needed to underpin the move to a different type of employment deal in the public services, which provides employees with more flexibility and improved skills development opportunities to compensate for the erosion of traditional public sector benefits such as job security and a final salary pension.”