Future Ready Leadership in Partnership with the Guardian

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While every organisation has been affected by Covid 19, public services have been impacted more than most with their dual responsibility to continue to deliver essential services while safeguarding whole communities in doing so. The risks that pandemic has created has only added to the multiplicity of challenges these complex organisations already face. As public services emerge from what is likely to be an extended period of restrictions, we consider the legacy this pivotal period will leave for public services and how it will re-shape leadership.

In partnership with The Guardian, we have brought together a number of sector experts to consider the readiness of public service leadership to navigate a less certain but more demanding future. We consider how organisations will re-define their future strategies, not just in terms of pandemic management but how they will address the social inequality brought to global attention across 2020. In a series of events, debates and articles, we explore how leadership is responding to change and challenge the progress being made in achieving better leadership representation for communities.      

In our first panel discussion, chaired by Coco Khan, commissioning editor at the Guardian, Tessa Harrison, Partner in GatenbySanderson’s Education Practice invited three formidable participants from Higher Education to consider why there is such a lack of diversity at the top of higher education and whether there is denial that racism exists? Our panel included:

  • Professor Kalwant Bhopal, Director of the Centre for Research in Race and Education at the University of Birmingham, and author of White Privilege: The Myth of a Post-Racial Society; 
  • Dr Michael Spence, President and Provost at University College London; 
  • Professor Shirley Congdon, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Bradford;
  • Professor Charles Egbu, Vice-Chancellor at Leeds Trinity University and one of the only black vice-chancellors in the UK. 

Tessa opened the discussion with the question of why there are so few BAME staff in senior roles at universities – and what can be done about it? With over 250 senior leaders attending from across the sector, this proved to be an energetic and passionate debate. If you would like to watch the debate you can access it here.   

In the second of our features, we look at the behaviours of strong leadership and re-think what this looks like in 2021 and beyond. Jody Goldsworthy, Executive Director for GatenbySanderson’s Leadership and Talent Consulting practice considers how a more agile culture will require greater emphasis upon trust, fairness and consistency from leadership and where engagement will need to be front and centre. Along with Sunita Malhotra, a professor at the Louvain School of Management in Belgium, she explores the shift form authoritative leadership to a more empathetic style and what that means for senior management.       

In the third of our features, Sarah Luxford, Partner for GatenbySanderson’s Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) Practice and co-founder of co-found Women in Tech throws out the challenge to the tech sector that despite initiatives to increase the number of women in senior roles, why does progress remain so slow? And what will it take to see real and rapid change?      

Our fourth feature, looks at how the Housing sector is re-shaping its board make up to introduce younger representation and better reflect its customers and communities. Simon Wing, Head of GatenbySanderson’s Housing Practice and Seetle Patel, board member with PA Housing discuss why engaging a younger audience is so important to the sector and its future ambitions. 

Our final feature, looks at how too often, sectors such as the civil service and higher education are conservative when making new hires. Michael Dobson, Head of GatenbySanderson's Central Government Practice, explored why different life and career experiences can result in a more dynamic senior leadership team, and Jenny Liebenberg, Director of People, Culture and Skills at the Money and Pensions Service, talks about her career path and demonstrates the benefits for employers of casting the net a bit wider. 

You can access the Future Ready Leadership Hub on The Guardian at https://www.theguardian.com/future-ready-leadership