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Leadership Academy advocate: Geoff Connell

Leadership Academy advocate - Geoff Connell

Geoff Connell, Head of Information Management and Technology at Norfolk County Council (and former Socitm President)

If local authorities are to fully exploit digital opportunities to improve outcomes for local people, places and businesses, then we must invest in developing digital skills across our workforce.

Developing digital skills at all levels and in digital leadership capability particularly is vitally important in local authorities, now more than ever. This is not just in the IT department. To achieve digitally enabled transformation across the organisation we need to deliver in partnership with our various business units, so we need to develop their digital leadership capabilities too.

Training leaders

That’s why I have invested in sending a number of my IT team and key business leaders to develop a distributed digital capability across the organisation. Feedback from first groups of Norfolk managers who have attended is excellent. Here are some quotes:

“The Socitm course is important time out from our very busy schedules to self-reflect with support on how we lead.”

“It helps people explore, understand and challenge some of our learnt behaviours. And plants the seed to tackle change them so we can improve as leaders.”

“Personally, I feel it has helped me get my mojo back!”

“It’s an excellent experience that is well worth doing. It has also given us some new networking opportunities and contacts.”

The Leadership Academy affect

When people comeback from a Leadership Academy course, there’s an almost tangible change in the way they carry themselves and approach problem solving. Invariably more confident, both personally and in their enthusiasm for thinking critically and outside the box, they feel empowered and recharged.

My proudest work-related achievement is securing external funding to improve the network connectivity across Norfolk County. This includes £8m for full fibre to 372 sites and, also, two county LoRaWAN deployments including over 250 gateways.

To make this possible, I had to have a team of innovative leaders supporting me. For truly effective leaders, the number one skill needed is the ability to collaborate. Forming high-performing partnerships with business and tech leaders from other linked organisations (in my case other local authorities and NHS organisations) and key suppliers is essential.

The Socitm Leadership Academy has played a vital role in building, strengthening and testing these skills in my team. I heartily recommend making the time investment of enrolling on a course to anyone. The ROI is quick, effective and has proved invaluable to Norfolk County Council.

Read more about the Top Talent programme. Places are subject to availability and membership level. Check with our Leadership Academy Manager for all  the information you need.