Collaborative leadership for thriving places

By Anna Randle and Alex Khaldi | 17 July 2019

The future of public services is about the power of place. There’s a bold claim to begin this piece, but how many readers of The MJ would disagree? Those of us who work in and with local government already take the question of how we create thriving communities and places as our starting point. But what is changing is that other organisations are starting to do the same. Health, police, fire and education leaders are asking how they can understand and work with communities – and each other – in new ways to improve social outcomes. The voluntary and community sector is largely ready and waiting. The business community is also starting to explore its role in place. So the question becomes one for all of us: what would a better future look like for our places, and how do we get there together?

This question is starting to be asked in places across the country. We are seeing new partnerships forming, new conversations starting and new work beginning that is about collaboration among organisations and people who have traditionally worked side by side. We know that local authority chief executives are spending an increasing amount of time on their external relationships, and that this shift is taking place quite rapidly. We also know that there is no simple toolkit for effective collaboration – it takes time and is about building relationships, shared purpose and a collective understanding of the opportunities and challenges in the place. Local system leaders are therefore operating in new territory, and this is why Collaborate and Grant Thornton have come together to ask: what collective leadership capabilities, behaviours and relationships are required to lead place-based change today?

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