Solace Blog

Articles and blogs written or contributed to by Solace staff and Board members for external publications including the Guardian, Local Government Chronicle and Municipal Journal are republished for browsing on this page.

A number of these can be accessed through the Solace Guardian Public Leaders Network Partner Zone.

Leadership across silos – 0

Everyone has leadership potential, and Graeme McDonald, Director of Solace, highlights some of the ways in which it can be developed.

(This article was originally published in Government Business)

What makes a great leader? There has often been a debate about the key traits that a good leader should have: knowledge, authenticity, drive, empathy, and even heroism for some.

We will have all experienced attempts at heroic styles of leadership – and while a hero may, on occasions, seem attractive – effective and sustainable leadership is less simplistic. The heroism of ‘great man theory’ is the earliest and perhaps most extreme example of trait leadership theory – that effective leaders share common personality characteristics, qualities that are innate and that leaders are therefore born and not made.

Some individual traits are of course helpful, but leadership is far more complex and not merely a gift. Heroes might have short-term benefits, but they are rarely contagious and quickly lose impact.

Whatever an individual’s personal characteristics, behaviour preferences or the organisational culture within which you operate, everyone’s leadership potential can be developed.

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Game Changer: Giving children the opportunity to lead a healthy and physically active life – 0

By Kathryn Howe, Marketing Manager - Public Sector, Sopra Steria

I started my local reading group a number of years ago and since then we’ve become good friends, so when I announced at our meeting the other night I’d spent the morning at a primary school, they were rather surprised. “You work for an IT company, don’t you?” Asked Katy. Not quite I thought, but I’ll save our digital transformation partner credentials for another conversation… I then got on to explain about how I’d had such an inspiring morning and about the strategic partnership with Widnes Vikings Rugby League Club, Halton Clinical Commissioning Group and Cheshire and Merseyside Women’s and Children’s Partnership Vanguard and how that had taken me to Weston Primary School in Runcorn for the launch of Game Changer, a programme with the ambition to make a significant impact in raising physical fitness and promoting healthy lifestyles in children and their families.

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Put your own lifejacket on first – 0

By Rob Kenyon, Director of Community Services, Thanet District Council and Solace Deputy Spokesperson on Digital Leadership

Does digital inclusion really matter?

We're about to embark on the next stage of the digital revolution with automation starting to be rolled out at scale. In the next few years, the focus on user experience and service design at the front end will be matched with the ability to automate complex processes behind the scenes making larger scale transformations of services quicker and cheaper. The technology is here now - it's just getting up a head of steam on the adoption curve. 

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Save cost – and make money – through innovative M&E procurement processes – 0

By Toby Heysham, Managing Director, Pinnacle Power 

More public sector organisations are starting to look at smarter, hassle-free and more innovative procurement processes – particularly when it comes to heating systems – not only in a bid to reduce build costs, but as a way to generate revenue.

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Investing in a Procurement Ecosystem – the Holy Grail to achieving more with less? – 0

By Robert Cunliffe, Sales and Marketing Director - Cities & Communities

Procuring new services and suppliers is expensive, for both commissioners and providers. With the sharp reduction in public funding and increasing pressure on resources, it’s easy to skip through the procurement process to get from one end to the other as quickly as possible. 

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‘What gives you a good life?' – 0

By Joanne Roney OBE, Chief Executive of Wakefield Council and Solace Spokesperson on Community Wellbeing

‘What gives you a good life?’ is the question we have recently been asking care home residents in Wakefield in order to better measure wellbeing. Unsurprisingly, most people answer that it is friends and family - the opportunity to have meaningful social contact - that gives them a sense of wellbeing, rather than their physical environment. It is easy for statutory services to overlook the importance of the ‘what makes a good life?’ question to their residents when their priority is delivering statutory services in an ever more challenging financial environment but this question is an important one. Possibly the most important question you can ask. 

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Devolution: the West Midlands in Focus – 0

By Solace Business Partners, Zurich Municipal.

Greater Manchester, which in April became the first English region to take control of its health and social care spending, is perhaps the highest-profile example of the Conservative Government’s commitment to devolution.

Devolution is also high on the agenda in the West Midlands, where 12 local authorities have joined the new West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

The WMCA came into force on 17 June, and we recently held a roundtable with representatives of several of its member authorities, namely Narinder Phagura (Sandwell MBC), Sara McNally (Dudley MBC) and Neil Pearson (Walsall MBC), to discuss some of the opportunities and challenges of devolution, and alternative methods of service delivery.

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A new horizon or more of the same? – 0

By Steve Atkinson, Chief Executive, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council and Solace Deputy Spokesperson on Evidence-Based Policy

A little over six years ago, we embarked on a Coalition Westminster Government for the first time in 65 years. Sixteen months ago, we saw the first Conservative Government in nearly a generation. Within the last few weeks, Theresa May entered Number 10 – as the sitting tenant, not a visitor – the second female prime Minister in our history. I make that point because of the time that took to happen, not the fact of its happening.

So, has this been a period of unprecedented change for us in local government – or is it business as usual?

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Learning about learning... – 0

By Abdool Kara, Chief Executive of Swale Borough Council and Solace Spokesperson on Evidence-Based Policy 

Wearing my Solace hat as a spokesperson on evidence-based decision making, I have been working with the Institute for Government on their local public service reform agenda. On 2 August, the IfG launched a new report, Supporting learning to integrate services and improve outcomes [1], alongside an accompanying set of eight case studies [2]. The report builds on a previous briefing paper [3] that identified the barriers that have prevented significant progress in service integration despite many attempts.

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The importance of being bold – 0

By James Cardwell-Moore, Commercial Director, Business Stream

We have been speaking a lot about boldness in business recently at Business Stream, thanks partly to the publication of our latest white paper, Beyond Bold: Strategies for Growth, produced in conjunction with the British Chamber of Commerce.

If you’ve not yet seen it, I’d recommend you give it a read. It provides a fascinating insight into the attitudes and behaviours of 400 business leaders across the UK. The paper raises some interesting issues – for example, whilst more than 90% have ambitions for growth, 44% had no formal growth strategy.

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