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How we devised a city-wide leadership programme

The Sheffield City Region sits at the heart of the UK, covering an area spanned by local authorities in South Yorkshire as well as the northern part of the East Midlands.

In 2010, the Sheffield City Region Local Economic Partnership – LEP – was established to increase the pace of economic growth within the region through collaboration. The LEP brings together private and public sectors in a shared commitment to work together to ensure the growth of a rebalanced local economy.

Effective leadership is vital to delivering economic growth and both of Sheffield’s universities are working together to develop leadership skills.

The challenge

The partners involved in the Sheffield City Region wanted to develop a strategic approach to leadership across the private, public and third sectors. This would enable individuals to help progress their own careers at the same time as helping their organisations and the City Region move forward.

The partners include Sheffield City Council, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, NHS Sheffield, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, South Yorkshire Police and the Sheffield NHS Trust. Central to their requirement was the opportunity for collaboration to enable skill sharing across sectors, improved services, and to enhance the region’s ability to respond positively to current challenges.

What we did

In response, the team from Sheffield Business School and their partners from the University of Sheffield devised a unique city-wide leadership programme, the City Region Leadership Programme (CRLP).

Originally aimed at middle managers in the public sector, the CRLP consists of a range of modules covering issues such as building a culture of innovation and improvement, initiating, adapting to and managing change, developing customer-centric services, and business focus underpinning service planning and control.

A vital element in developing the modules was the need for them to be grounded in practical business examples, not simply academic theory.

These modules are accompanied by an overarching leadership module which includes individual coaching, master-classes and project work. An additional benefit is that course content is accredited – meaning that participants gain a qualification on completion.

The results

The CRLP has been widely acclaimed as a great success, and was highly commended by EFMD – The Management Development Network – in its annual awards 2011. This puts it in some prestigious company. Other highly commended schemes were run by business giants Rio Tinto, Deutsche Bank and Ernst & Young.

Following its initial launch, the programme successfully demonstrated the value created by cross-agency working, and it has now been retuned and refocused to harness the synergy between public, private and third sector organisations and to develop broader partnership working.

Feedback from those involved has been extremely positive, with participants’ ratings of their competence in core skills doubling from 35.5% to 76.1%. Part of the initiative involved looking at how cross-agency projects that are of benefit to the region could cost less but without any reduction in impact. A staggering £400,000 in predicted annual savings was generated from just three projects as a result of the skills and business awareness developed through the course.

They say

"I’m now asking is this the way we do it because we have always done it like that, or can we look at different ways of doing it? So it’s really made me look at how we do our day-to-day jobs.'

'The course has gone beyond my expectations. I like the practical use of models that they gave us and we are constantly using examples from our own services. We work in teams with other public services, the voluntary sector, and also the private sector. Everyone brings a different slant to the table when discussing a problem you face, or by explaining the challenge in layman’s terms, you simplify the problem."

Cath Toovey, station manager with South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service

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