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Learning about leadership

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The theme of leadership has been central to CES’s work on the Goal Programme for Public Service Reform and Innovation. From the outset, government departments involved in the Programme, together with CES recognised the role of leadership in introducing, maintaining and sustaining new ways of working. The Goal Programme engaged with leadership at many different levels in government, including heads of departments and units, Secretary Generals and Permanent Secretaries.

Leading for the future in Northern Ireland is one of nine Goal projects. This is a leadership development programme for the Northern Ireland Civil Service, designed with support from CES. The programme was developed to support senior leaders following a period of significant reform, and an increasing focus on outcomes for citizens in Northern Ireland. Early findings from an evaluation of the first programme demonstrate increased collaboration and positive changes in resilience, determination and motivation. These findings suggest that leadership can be developed and enabled. In February CES was invited to speak at a conference in Dublin organised by Eolas, and to share learning from our experience of supporting leadership development in public services. Our experience confirms that leadership is essential in times of change, and that it is a collective, rather than an individual activity.

Learning from the Goal programme is being captured in an evaluation. Six vignettes explore different themes, one of which is focused on distributed leadership. The vignette explains different forms of leadership which emerged and how they have supported implementation of the Goal Programme. Distributed leadership was found to encourage a level of independent working within projects.

To read the Goal vignette on distributed leadership, click here.