Give Me Everything
One or two of you have been chasing me for a new blog (really?). My only excuse is that the last month or so has been so action-packed that I just haven’t been able to find the time.
But that’s not good enough. We all know that we live in a world where it’s all about communication, communication and more communication.
I was reminded of this again at the end of last week.
I was trying to get some reflective time (fat chance – you can leave Birmingham, but it will never leave you) at the annual SOLACE conference and I made sure that I caught a session by Gavin Esler entitled “How Leaders Tell Stories: Lessons From The Top”.
In amongst the tales about how a whole host of high profile figures have created their own leadership personae and narratives – think Nelson Mandela at the South African World Cup in a Springbok rugby shirt; think Bill Clinton claiming to be just an ordinary boy from Hope, Arkansas – Esler reminded us that we are only leaders if we have followers; and we only have followers when we communicate effectively.
So, back to a more regular blog.
Stories from the city; stories from the sea
Bournemouth also reminded me that local government, whilst shrinking in size and cost, is nonetheless growing in importance. More than ever, we are the 4th emergency service ensuring support and succour for the most vulnerable in our society. Whilst continuing for the foreseeable future to be affected by the impact of deficit reduction on our budgets, I still found myself amongst colleagues determined to use their imagination, resourcefulness and sheer determination to do the very best they can with the diminishing resources at their disposal.
And what we also agreed wasn’t decreasing was the potential of all our organisations to invent new futures. I am proud to be part of a public service leadership community that isn’t disempowered by the present challenges and those that still lie ahead.
And this is how it must be in Birmingham. We have multiple issues to grapple with. Some, as you know, the consequence of factors outside our control; others, the result of proverbially shooting ourselves in the foot – several times and over many years. But, irrespective of why we are in difficulty, we must raise up our heads up and look to the horizon (or, at least, to 2020) and imagine a new city council – one in which the values, vision, policies, priorities, operating models and – crucially – the outcomes all line up to give our communities a clear sense of our shared purpose and commitment to being the best we can and doing the best for them.
The Biggest Prize In Sport
As we dig deep to ramp up our improvement effort, we should reflect on the recent experiences of the English and Uruguayan rugby teams (irrespective of whether or not you support either of them).
On Saturday they played each other – with very different expectations, but also with a common cause. England, one time contenders for the cup itself, now needing victory to prove it could still win a match; Uruguay, unexpected qualifiers, revelling in the sheer pleasure of being in the same competition as the greatest. But the common factor was that both teams needed to confound expectations.
And this is what we need to do. Too many – within and without – don’t yet believe in us. Well, it is up to the rest of us to prove beyond a shadow of doubt that we have what it takes – including the leadership skills to win across the sceptics – to put Birmingham City Council where is deserves to be. At the top of the league.