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Civil Service

Want a more creative team?

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Effective leaders
Head and shoulders of woman with long hair in white-dotted blue dress
Sara Vogt, Ministry of Justice

Creativity has been identified as one of the top three skills needed for 2020 by the World Economic Forum. And our Civil Service Leadership Statement sets out the importance of “rewarding innovation and initiative” as part of inspiring leadership.

But what more could each of us be doing to model creative leadership and encourage creativity within our teams?

Last summer, I set out to engage with around 1,500 civil servants on this topic at a series of events as part of Civil Service Live. The sessions focused on practical ideas to improve creative leadership, and used content developed by a group of us from the Government Communication Service. I was struck by the fact that staff from 39 government organisations across the country signed up to attend, both from operational areas and corporate services, and across all grades.

Woman making presentation to seated audience
Sara Vogt presenting at Civil Service Live 2017

Now, we've made the ideas from the session available for all civil servants to access here, on Civil Service Learning. You can read the Creative Leadership Handbook, which sets out the case for creative leadership; and, if you want to share the ideas, use the set of slides, with speaker notes, to run an interactive session filled with practical ideas with your colleagues.

The more we can do to break out of constraints that can leave us feeling worried about how others will judge our ideas or fear the risks of trying something new at all, the better. In this area, the scientific research behind the growth mindset model is particularly empowering. It provides evidence that although many people feel their talents are set in stone at birth, we are able to grow our capacity to learn and be creative.

Turning ideas into innovations

An article in Civil Service Quarterly shows what we’re like at our best - when we’re turning creative ideas into innovations to improve public services. The Ministry of Justice’s Mark Adam talks there about the successful outcomes of the prison officer recruitment campaign, when Communications, HR and Data teams worked collaboratively and creatively together.

Logo for 'Effective leaders'The themes of innovating, learning and pursuing new ideas to improve the services we deliver were also ones that came out strongly from extensive staff involvement when we created our group values last year. My team has tried to live those themes in the way we’re bringing our values to life: from e-thank-you cards you can send to a colleague that harness the power of gratitude; to how we're showcasing the personal stories of staff doing great work across our organisation in a highly visual way.

I hope you find the CS Learning materials useful with your team and if you try them out I’d be interested in your feedback.

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  1. Comment by Sara V posted on

    Dear Anon,

    Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and look at the materials. The content we produced is in the ‘Creative Leadership’ section on the CS Learning site. The materials we developed are not connected to the separate article on multi-tasking you read on the site. I’ll be happy to feedback your comments on that article to the CSL team. Best wishes, Sara

  2. Comment by Anon posted on

    This is good in principle but I opened up the link to the civil service learning page. I opened up an article about how multi-tasking leads to creativity. It said that the average worker spends three minutes on a task before switching to a new one. Three minutes!

    I shall buy in to things backed by evidence rather than exaggerations. We need the moral courage to stand up for the truth; that matters more than the courage to be creative.