A Q&A where graduates share their experiences of Leadership Academy training. What has it added to their life, both personally and professionally?
Service Manager/Head of ICT for Suffolk County Council
Which Leadership academy programme did you join?
Top Talent (London) 2021 (the best one!)
What were your initial thoughts about participating?
I’d done many leadership and management courses over my career and was slightly sceptical as to the value of this one. I felt I had learned a lot already, therefore what else was there to learn? However, I had also seen and heard lots of really positive reviews from colleagues and was interested to see what this could offer that previous programmes hadn’t.
I always am keen to learn new stuff too. And there was the added benefit of being able to connect and network with new names and faces. A rarity in the current pandemic. So I saw this as a great opportunity to try the course, see what I could learn, and see whether it would merit recommending to my colleagues.
Having also attended a number of Aidan’s events, I knew it was always going to be entertaining and well crafted. My expectations were high!
What were your first impressions?
First impressions were excellent. I’d not met any of the wider team before, although we had some mutual connections. And I was really pleased to see the sponsors (Microsoft) taking an active role – in both setting the challenge and also supporting us through it.
I was also really pleased to see a wide range of roles, ages and experiences, from a wide range of public service organisations, coming together to help brainstorm solutions and contribute to identification and delivery/presentation of solutions too. Each member of the team brought their own skillsets to the outcomes. As well as ensuring that no one was left behind – we were all in this together.
What were the most powerful elements of the programme for you?
There was no hierarchy. A true level playing field and a common aim to both support each other and to achieve our collective aims. We’d all brought our own skills and experiences, and it was a group responsibility to ensure these were used to best effect; to help make the quietest voices heard and the loudest voices listen and take note.
Although the task seemed daunting for most of us on day one, a collective effort and will to persevere, and some element of competition, plus a really effective approach to resourcing solutions helped us all deliver an outcome that we all agreed was way better than the sum of our parts. Something we could collectively be proud of. And something that enabled valued contributions from all – which was reflected in the final presentation too.
All in all, an excellent example of both team learning and individual development opportunities coming together to deliver something rather special. Although a relatively short timescale, strong friendships were formed and we all leaned more about ourselves and others. And, most importantly, the power of collaboration and the value of supporting others.
After graduation, what were the key things you took away with you?
There were a number of key takeaways for me, in no particular order …
- Great advice and guidance from our trainer to
- bring us together, to promote and provoke discussion using a mix of media and different tech solutions
- help us challenge ourselves, whilst understanding the value of support from our colleagues
- turn us from disparate to connected and collaborative.
- Great support from our sponsors in
- helping us understand problems and define and shape real solutions for real world problems,
- focusing on tech and people as an enabler and facilitator of change (and not tech for tech’s sake.)
- Great awareness from Socitm central to be able to look forward and drive and support these events.
This is an investment in both present and future of local government leaders after all.
- connecting outside of my normal network with others with different challenges and approaches
- being able to listen, share, discuss and collaborate on a solution that we were all 100% behind
- using that unique blend of talent and skills within the group
- being able to adapt and adopt styles and approaches to ensure no one was left behind
all made for a fabulous experience.
Our team were so supportive and engaged, and will remain a special team for me because of what I was able to learn about myself during the process. It was also truly awesome to see some of the team members grow in confidence throughout the process. Leaving the training with much more than they joined with!
How did you apply these professionally and what are the direct benefits?
- As I mentioned before, I like to learn something new every day. I have taken my knowledge and experience to develop myself as a manager and leader and value even more the power of ‘the crowd’.
- Many have skills and experiences that aren’t always job aligned and related. Tapping into sometimes hidden strengths of others can be so rewarding, for them and for me.
- I can now look to explore hidden talents and skills of my team members to help them shine and develop as individuals.
What would you say to anyone thinking about joining the programme you enjoyed?
Take up the opportunity as early as you can! The value is in its people and how you use the info provided – and the more you put in, the greater the return. Always take every opportunity to learn, either to reinforce or add to your skills and experiences, as there will be times when you look back and think – ‘I’m really glad I did that’.