Rowers carry their boat above their heads to the water

How trust and a collaborative leadership culture can meet the most testing of challenges

In the third episode of Leading into Tomorrow, Ian Thomas CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, shares tried-and-tested transformation approaches for public sector leaders.

In this episode, Ian Thomas CBE discusses leading through difficult times with Oly Jones, EY-Parthenon’s global leader for the Government and Public Sector, and Helen Sunderland, Partner, Local Public Services, EY UK&I.

Currently Chief Executive of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, Ian shares how a coaching and mentoring leadership approach, trust and a no-blame culture can help public sector leaders to overcome their biggest challenges. And he uses his experience of transforming the Children’s and Young People’s Services at Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council to illustrate his points.

Ian describes how he and his colleagues recognized the system’s strengths, then created the conditions to turn the service around – from building strong relationships with families to ensuring psychological safety for staff. Putting a “relentless focus on practice quality” was also key, as was using sports psychology to develop a winning mindset.

Helen observes that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown local governments how data can help them to break down silos and take a proactive approach to outreach. It’s also been a great leveler, enabling colleagues to connect and grow.

Three insights to take away:

  • In a VUCA world, all the partners in the system will need to trust each other, and pull together, to get the most out of the factors driving and enabling their policies.

  • Coming together as a unified system to decide a collective goal for inclusive growth will help build trust among colleagues and communities.

  • Creating an environment of psychological safety, where people can play to their strengths, will allow them to be creative and learn from their mistakes. Leaders can role-model this by being authentic and showing a growth mindset.

The podcast is also available to listen to on SpotifyiTunes, and Amazon Music.

If you’d like to read more, a full text transcript of this podcast is available.


Episode 03


26m 3s