Leadership and management training overhaul to provide 'tangible skills'

Updated programmes will offer "unrivalled development opportunities"
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The Cabinet Office is overhauling civil service leadership and management training programmes to make them more “complementary, coherent, and effective”.

Programmes available through via Civil Service Learning, the Civil Service Leadership Academy, the Accelerated Development Schemes and the National Leadership Centre will all be updated to better adhere to a new curriculum framework alighted with the Curriculum and Campus for Government Skills, Caroline Murray, deputy director of the leadership programmes strategy at the Cabinet Office’s Government Skills and Curriculum Unit, said in a blog post last week.

“Our aim is to ensure all our central leadership and management programmes are complementary, coherent, and effective. This means the programmes and products available [on these programmes]... will change to provide unrivalled development opportunities,” Murray wrote.

Training across the board will focus on three ‘p’s: people skills such as leading hybrid teams, coaching and managing performance; performance skills “to better cater for leading in a more complex, interconnected, technology-driven world” such as systems thinking, digital and analytical fluency, commercial and project leadership, and managing disruption; and partnership skills such as communication, team working, and working fairly and inclusively.

The changes are intended to improve the consistency and quality of training for civil service leaders, by providing tangible skills to better manage people, processes, money, or projects.

“In developing this, we’re looking to the world leaders in management, but also ensuring relevance to the context of government. From the most junior level, people will be clear on what we would expect of them as future leaders, and what expertise and experience they’ll need to build, and how,” Murray said.

The blog post sheds more light on the training being offered by the new Curriculum and Campus for Government Skills, which launched in January to deliver on a promise by Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove to create a “properly resourced campus for training people in government”.

The Cabinet Office said at the time that the campus would reduce the risk of duplication, offer better value for money and develop “rigorous standards for training across the whole of government”, after Gove said in his Ditchley speech last year that ministers had “neglected to ensure that senior members of the civil service have all the basic skills required to serve government, and our citizens, well”.

Training offered through the campus is divided into five strands: foundations of public administration; working in government; leading and managing; specialist skills; and domain knowledge.

Strand three – leading and managing, which provides skills, knowledge and networks to develop current and future managers and leaders – will “not be restricted to the handful of senior leaders”, according to Murray.

“It will support every civil servant with clarity and accessibility in their learning and development, whether a permanent secretary or one of our thousands of valued line managers, working across the UK. It will be for everyone,” she said.

Meanwhile, across all leadership programmes, external experts will be brought in to share their experiences alongside academic courses of study.

“Since leaders learn best from leaders, new entrants will be developed by those they look up to. Participants on the new programmes also will hear from experienced leaders from different sectors and industries. We’ll provide opportunities to hear about how they’ve solved problems, approached new challenges, used new technologies and innovated,” Murray said.

Other training programmes are meanwhile being updated to fit within the new curriculum framework.

System will also be put in place to improve understanding of those studying on the leadership courses – described by Murray as “high potential individuals” – to help them plan their careers.

Murray wrote: “The scale of the comprehensive reforms planned means this won’t happen immediately. We’re continuing to work with others to ensure all of our activity remains complementary to existing investment in capability, whether in functions, professions or departments,” Murray said.

Leadership programmes being developed in parallel and aligned to the curriculum framework include the Major Projects Leadership Academy and the Service Delivery Academy.

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