New forms of leadership for new challenges

The idea of distributed leadership is a term which has emerged recently in research about reform, change and innovation in public service reform.

Distributed leadership challenges the way that we traditionally think about leaders – as individuals with particular behaviours, and who we expect to have all of the answers. Whole of government approaches require greater levels of collaboration. Tackling challenges involves navigating and negotiating many different goals and stakeholders – including departments, agencies, civil society organisations and service users. Distributed leadership sees leadership as a collective, rather than an individual process, which involves different perspectives and levels of the system.

Distributed leadership is one of the themes explored in an evaluation of the Goal Programme for Public Service Reform and Innovation. A short vignette describes the individuals, organisations, and mechanisms which allowed leadership of the programme to be shared, and how this helped projects to be implemented. The evaluation finds that trust is a key feature of distributed leadership.

CES has published four vignettes on different themes emerging from the evaluation, with two more to be published over the coming months. A more detailed evaluation report will follow. Learning from the programme will be of interest to policy makers involved in reform and innovation.

To read the vignette, click here.