GIAA chief Elizabeth Honer reflects on 'encouraging' year for leadership and values

Written by Civil Service World on 29 December 2019 in Feature

As 2020 approaches, senior figures from across government reflect on their highlights and challenges of 2019, look ahead to the next 12 months and share their favourite festive memories

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What was your highlight of 2019?

This year I’ve been engaging our customers and our people in a fresh vision and strategy for the agency, based on their feedback. Seeing a 29% increase in our mid-year people survey on clarity of direction was really encouraging. Even better was coming together in September for our first all-agency conference in Manchester, our theme being “achieving our vision together”. The spirit, commitment and energy in the room was electric. We were all inspired by the stories our people shared about the work they do to enable better outcomes for government and by the potential for our future. 

What has been the most significant change in your organisation this year?

We completely refreshed our values in 2019, with workshops around the country. We’re now using them to guide how we conduct ourselves at every level, aiming always to be professional, trustworthy, collaborative, principled and respectful.

I believe in values being at the core of effective leadership, which requires those of us in the most senior positions to be mindful of how we behave every day, in every encounter. In the GIAA we’ve seen a 16% increase in people feeling it is safe to challenge. We’ll keep working to improve this and other indictors so that all our people can truly flourish.

In the GIAA we’ve seen a 16% increase in people feeling it is safe to challenge. 

What will be the biggest challenge of 2020 – and how are you preparing to meet it?

I’d come back to our vision. Developing it and everyone supporting it is great, but actually delivering it is something else. The complexity and pace of change in the world means the GIAA needs to work differently for our insights to be of most value. Changing ourselves while delivering for today is always challenging, but I’m confident we have the right strategy, people and values to deliver it.

Tell us a favourite festive memory from your youth…

My young childhood was spent in Canada, where December brought deep snow. I have early memories of skating to school and jumping off our garage roof into the snow drifts squealing with glee. It was always a beautiful, clear, crisp white Christmas.

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