Sharing leadership for success

July 1, 2019

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by Majella McCloskey, Centre for Effective Services

Everyone accepts that leadership plays an important role in enabling change and that it’s also an important ingredient for successful collaboration in the public sector.  Through the Carnegie UK Trust’s Embedding Wellbeing in Northern Ireland initiative, we are working together to co-design an innovative approach to shared leadership that will support the implementation of Community Plans for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council; Derry City and Strabane District Council; and Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council.

Sharing leadership is at the core of what Community Planning means.  It is fundamental to the how joint decision-making is undertaken, and how responsibilities are more commonly owned.  Shared leadership is also about how partners can maximise the contributions they make, in terms of people, money or other resources, towards achieving common outcomes.  It’s clear that sharing the leadership is fundamental to achieving the potential of Community Planning, but it can be challenging to achieve the alignment of organisational and collective authorities, responsibilities and cultures.  However, this new initiative from the Carnegie UK Trust, in partnership with the three councils and supported by the Centre for Effective Services (CES), can address some of these challenges and see the sharing of decision making and responsibilities come to life.

The initiative will bring three Community Planning Partnerships together to co-design an approach to shared leadership that works for local government in Northern Ireland. Several collaborative processes will be used to collectively design the shared leadership programme, which will then be delivered and tailored to meet the aspirations of the Partnerships. The approaches are likely to include several modules of group learning, as well as coaching for key leaders within the Partnerships.

Community Planning is still bedding down in Northern Ireland and there will be great interest in how shared leadership is taken forward and what difference the approach makes to Community Planning.  The project has therefore incorporated an opportunity to learn about implementing shared leadership, through rolling out an evaluation and learning process to accompanying the shared leadership programme.   Several reports will be produced to add to the body of learning on co-design and shared leadership. Any useful models or templates produced through the programme will also be made available for other organisations to use.

The work on co-designing shared leadership is being taken forward by CES, which is a non-profit organisation with skills and expertise in areas including education, health, children and young people and social services. We put evidence and implementation at heart of what we do, working with policymakers to design policy and supporting decision making in frontline services. We believe that research, people’s experiences of public services, and learning from frontline practice are all forms of evidence that can improve services for people in Northern Ireland.

We’re delighted to be working with the Embedding Wellbeing in Northern Ireland project to support these three local authorities to develop and learn from a new approach to shared leadership.