Leadership advocate of the month: Adam Simmonds – Lead Architect at Coventry City Council
Top Talent – Give it a go, pause the working day, and focus on yourself. You get as much out of it as you put in!
I got offered a place on a pilot of the Socitm Top Talent course, to help refine and develop the course. The opportunity took me by surprise when Nadira Hussain made the offer at the West Midlands Socitm regional meetings. Especially, as being 30, I feel relatively young for leadership, despite 15 years’ experience in the industry.
Today, I am Lead Architect at Coventry City Council, responsible for Technology and Innovation for the Internal IT Service and the City Public Realm. This includes everything from Office 365, modernising internal IT systems to getting Driverless Cars, 5G, IoT and Superfast Broadband into the city in the run up to City of Culture 2021 and beyond.
Anyway, on to the Top-Talent programme, I’ll be honest in that I didn’t really know what to expect and often these courses feel like sitting in a room always learning ‘theories’ and rehashing stuff you’ve heard before. As an example, having attended traditional training, they always offer a good foundation and opportunity to network but, they have often reassured me my approach to leadership is modern, rather than picking up new skills. The Top Talent programme was different.
There are two things about the Top-Talent programme that really made a difference for me. Firstly, was being part of a group with wide-ranging backgrounds. From project managers, techie’s, experienced leaders, new leaders and some who are completely new to the industry, it’s a diverse group. It was a wonderful opportunity to share ideas and connections. Over the programme the group builds a level of trust, becoming a safe space to share challenges you face at work (or personally) and work out solutions. You don’t get this much perspective, diversity of approaches and feeling of a safe space from ‘traditional training’ courses.
Secondly, one part of the programme focuses entirely on you, it’s probably the most tiring day but really starting to question what your beliefs and values are, what inspires you, what you enjoy about your life / job. It’s amazing how much self-confidence you get when you know what makes you tick and the one to one mentoring session is cathartic, being able to unload a load of thoughts to an impartial sounding board and have the space to ‘pause the working day, and focus on yourself’. Knowing what my beliefs and values makes building trust with colleagues more natural and makes it easier to have a shared vision. Work now feels like a group of people working together for a common goal rather than following or giving orders.
The programme never really felt like work, a drag, or training – it was light-hearted, fun and engaging throughout – We discovered that someone fears Owls, that they have tiny bodies underneath all the feathers and a rather odd discussion about ‘do fish have eye lids?’ Yes, sort of!
Socitim’s Top Talent course reassures me that the IT Industry is finally helping future leaders to develop personal skills based around collaboration, innovation and be person-centric rather than models, hierarchies and fixed ways of doing things. It was a pleasure to be involved with its development.