Enhancing leadership skills at Dudley Council

How we helped them respond to a challenging climate by developing tomorrow’s leaders today

The brief

Like many councils in the UK, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council is facing a number of unprecedented challenges. Senior management recognised this as an opportunity to invest in developing leadership skills across management personnel and contacted andpartnership to establish how they could create tomorrow’s leaders today, and how they could get there.

Our approach

We developed a comprehensive programme, TORCh Leadership Development Programme, to deliver a number of key objectives. 

We set out to:

  • Develop a corporate approach to leadership
  • Strengthen strategic leadership capacity
  • Develop an approach to leadership that is cost effective and provided value for money
  • Develop a programme that was practical and linked to real-life situations, rather than abstract and theoretical scenarios
  • Create a programme that focussed on leading people in difficult times, rather than on process and technical skills
  • Ensure time out of the day job was at a minimum
  • Develop an approach that was sustainable
  • Deliver real outcomes in specific areas.

The programme was designed to be pragmatic, practical and challenging, beginning with a 1:1 conversation with facilitators. Participants then went on to take part in four, one day workshops which were sponsored and attended by a director. Each had a Future-Engage-Deliver focus and insights were practiced back in the workplace, and reviewed in the following session. We used provoking insight and reflection to develop and challenge the groups. 

In later workshops, there was a focus on skill building, such as project management and influencing, and practicing conscious coaching. Action Learning Sets (ALS) were formed and each Set included the task of applying skills to a project which addressed an issue facing the council. This self-managed process enabled participants to apply and enhance their leadership learning.

The final phase included a presentation and celebration to conclude the workshops. Each participant was presented with an ILM developed programme certificate and was encouraged to participate in six months of workplace shadowing, mentoring and master classes to sustain conscious leadership beyond the workshops. 

The results

196 managers were invited to apply for our innovative four step TORCh Leadership Development Programme. The application process included written applications, line manager endorsement and cross-directorate approval. 

Three groups of 12 managers took part in a two year pilot programme, and following the launch of a secondary programme, we received a high demand for participation. This demand was repeated in the third year of the programme. 

Each one of the 36 participants completed the pilot programme and received an ILM accreditation, and four have since been promoted to more senior positions within the council. In the second group, 35 people finished the programme and six were promoted.

  • 95% of participants rated the overall scheme as either Above Average or Excellent
  • 100% of respondents said they would recommend the scheme to other leaders within the council  
  • andpartnership facilitators were rated as either Above Average or Excellent by 95% of respondents.

Participants said…

“The TORCh scheme is the most effective programme I have been on to date. I genuinely believe that if I had not started the scheme I would have resigned from the Authority, if not local government as a career altogether.”

“In order to meet the immediate and future challenges we need to ‘unlock’ existing talent. The F-E-D model enables this talent to be unlocked.”

Andrea Pope-Smith, director at Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, said:

“TORCh has created an environment for development, learning, sharing and empowerment. Doors have been opened in terms of how managers think and behave, but also in terms of their access and ability to influence strategic issues council-wide.

“It has been a privilege being involved and being able to watch people grow in confidence and self-esteem.”