The Civil Service has achieved a huge amount in this Parliament, helping the Government to design and deliver its programme, and operating services that affect the lives of millions of people. This reflects the hard work, and discretionary effort, of civil servants up and down the country and changes to the way we work as a result of the Civil Service Reform Plan. Overall, the Civil Service is becoming more innovative, more digital, more open and more responsive to the needs of service users. Productivity is rising, performance is improving and trust in the Civil Service is at record levels.
In one sense, this is not surprising. We know that much of the impetus for change in recent years has come from civil servants themselves - dissatisfied with the outdated, inflexible structures, processes and technologies that prevent them from reaching their potential and doing the best for the country.
Leaders as role models
To ensure that the changes now underway become deeply ingrained in the culture of the Civil Service of the future, our leaders must become role models for the new ways of working. They must challenge themselves and each other to improve how the Civil Service operates, and the way we act together to ensure the Civil Service provides the best service it can - to Ministers and the public. There is a real desire for greater clarity about what is expected of all leaders: all the empirical evidence, independent reports and best practice from the private sector show that strong leadership is critical to the culture of high-performing organisations, and the Civil Service is no exception.
So, we made a clear commitment in October’s Progress Report on Civil Service Reform, to write down the behaviours that we expect all leaders across Civil Service grades to exemplify, and ensure that reality matches rhetoric. Over the past 4 months, you were invited to contribute your opinions on what good leadership looks like, what you value in your leaders and what behaviours need to change.
Now, acting on the results of this consultation, in which literally thousands of civil servants across the country took part, alongside the views reflected in the People Survey and other feedback, we have issued a single, clear statement of what you can expect of Civil Service leaders at all levels. It responds directly to your comments about the positive attributes you are proud of, and to the persistent messages about what elements of our culture need to change.
The Leadership Statement
This statement of intent takes as its starting point the responsibility of the Civil Service for the effective delivery of the Government’s programme and Ministers’ priorities, living its values and serving the public. It then highlights the 3 key characteristics that you have indicated you expect from effective leaders, and that Civil Service leaders promise to live up to. They will be:
- inspiring - about their work and its future
- confident - in their engagement
- empowering - their teams to deliver
Why is this statement more than the sum of its parts?
In drafting this statement, we have listened to what you are saying needs to change. We expect leaders at all levels to hold the Leadership Statement up as a mirror to their own behaviours in a challenging and constructive way, and to be honest about where they are falling short and take appropriate action to address it. They will be given the support, tools and training they need to do so.
But we are going further than this.
We expect you to follow closely how the statement translates into real and observable behaviour change in your leaders. So, meeting the substance behind the spirit of the headline themes will be embedded in the performance agreements and objectives of all leaders.
Further still, the Statement will be supported by a new 360-degree reporting mechanism. For the first time, staff will have the opportunity to assess their leaders and measure their performance against the values set out in the Leadership Statement. Initially, this will apply to the 150 or so leaders in the Senior Leadership Group, but for the 2015/16 appraisal year the entire SCS community will be assessed against a single, robust 360-degree feedback tool, aligned to the Leadership Statement.
The impact of the statement will also be continuously monitored, including through hard data - how it is reflected in recruitment, promotion and talent management practices, for example - and feedback from civil servants through our regular surveys and communications channels. We want you to see that progress and reward will be dependent on showing the leadership behaviours expected.
Lined up behind the Leadership Statement are the critical elements for developing the Civil Service - increased capability in key areas, smarter working, greater transparency, a truly diverse workforce and talent that is properly harnessed and given the opportunity to shine, wherever we find it. Better leaders will make for a more capable, collaborative, confident, efficient and fulfilled Civil Service, delivering better public services.
If you want to know more about the Leadership Statement, what it means for you and your managers, and how it will be implemented, Civil Service leaders will be talking about different aspects of the Statement in the coming weeks, and a series of events and communications will be run within departments.
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