Government Department

Developing the collective role of a government executive team.

With a growing focus on low carbon as well as other strategic priorities, the executive team needed help establishing a new approach to working as a collective, so they could handle the demands of their public role while realising their long-term purpose as a department.

Challenge

The changing context post-pandemic and a renewed focus on carbon and ‘levelling up’ priorities meant the Department executive team needed to adopt a more strategic and cross-cutting approach. The Permanent Secretary wanted the team to exercise strategic leadership as a collective in responding effectively to political demands and major operational challenges that tended to take attention away from the department’s long-term goals.

Approach

Working directly with the executive team over a series of in-house sessions, we helped individuals re-examine their dynamics and ways of working.

Through the process, the team recognised that they needed to set an example of collaborative behaviours to help establish the tone for how to lead ‘cross cutting’ challenges.

Within the supportive environment of our sessions, we encouraged them to face the tension they experienced between short and long-term agendas, and the need to identify and make difficult trade-offs, while helping them deepen their awareness of how systemic dynamics impacted their leadership and effectiveness in motivating and engaging the wider leadership team and organisation.

And by working closely with the team on critical decisions they needed to make, we helped them review how they engaged with these decisions alongside their core portfolio of deliverables.

Outcome

Our partnership helped the executive team give greater attention to the strategic narratives that reinforce the long-term outcomes the department was seeking to deliver. As a result, the team have built better resilience when it comes to dealing with the day-to-day distractions and crises.

By fully engaging in the process of being accountable and sharing responsibility for delivering the Department’s strategy, the role of leadership within the executive team has become more defined for the whole department rather than each of their director general portfolios.

And when it comes to strategic conversations, the default way of working has now evolved to include the participation of the extended leadership group, beyond the executive team.

Government Department

“The work we did as a team helped us to build a common understanding on how we needed to be more able to call out the issues and work together to address them.”

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