Growing Talented Leaders:
Leading Across Organisational Boundaries
Leaders In GM is part of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, a unique and ground-breaking approach to providing high quality public services by combining public budgets across the seven boroughs of the Greater Manchester area. Working across a system rather than exclusively within an organisation presents a different set of leadership challenges. Leaders in GM increasingly have to work collaboratively and through participative and co-creation approaches. This new way of working draws on a range of influencing and partnering skills rather than directive leadership. The Leading GM group (a collaborative arrangement across all member organisations) were seeking to find innovative and experiential ways of building skills and confidence in leaders needing to work in this way. They also wanted to build internal facilitation capability to run events like this themselves in the future. These events needed to be delivered at scale to 95 leaders at a time.
We were excited and honoured to be invited to work on this unique devolution initiative. We developed The Leading With Impact + Presence Workshops, three highly experiential and innovative workshops working at different levels of the system, and designed to be delivered to c90 leaders at a time. The workshops worked on both a rational level by introducing frameworks and models to the whole group, and ‘below the neck’ to build self awareness, interpersonal skills, and application of these to real life situations in small teams of six. The final element of our solution was to build internal skills and capability in a group of 10 facilitators from within member organisations.
- Secure Your Own Oxygen Mask First – taking a deep dive under the surface of how leaders show up and the impact they have on others. This workshop recognised that leaders need to do their own work first when working collaboratively.
- Disappearing Elephants – recognised that traditional ways of team and group working in organisations comes with a whole set of patterns, habits, and narratives that don’t always translate when working across a system. These habits are often hidden from view when system leaders come together and can become ‘elephants in the room’ causing things to get stuck. This workshop built skills and confidence in spotting, naming, and making interventions so the elephants disappeared.
- So What? Now What? – shifted the focus to taking action and looked at continuing the personal transformation that had been started, creating small peer groups to support each other through a provoking personal planning session
- Building Internal Capability – A skills and confidence building workshop was run for internal facilitators to come together and share their expertise and learn about hosting and facilitating groups. Depending on their confidence levels they were paired with more experienced facilitators during the workshops, or allocated groups to facilitate individually.
In total over 200 leaders attended the workshops, and 10 internal facilitators worked alongside their colleagues and our team of facilitators. The series of workshops were reported to have:
- Raised self awareness of how leaders are experienced by each other
- Been a great way to build relationships across the City and provide a space to learn together
- Created a more collaborative and partnering approach
- Identified new local projects and initiatives to move forward together at a local level
- Stimulated wider conversations within the Leaders In GM community about future development approaches and the need for more localised initiatives.
- Developed internal facilitation capability with new skills and confidence applied to other projects
Feedback from the client:
Gwen has worked with us collaboratively to design a series of highly engaging and impactful workshops. I value Gwen’s creativity and willingness to introduce and experiment with new approaches. She has also supported us to build our internal OD capability and is always happy to offer professional support to me and others. I value the insight and difference which Gwen has bought to the Leading GM Programme. Gwen is a delight to work with and a trusted partner.
Feedback from the internal OD Facilitation Team
Gwen brings a wealth of experience with her and strikes a nice balance of theory and practical application. Gwen fine tuned the content through piloting the workshops with the facilitation team and was happy to explore impact and feedback in the moment. I found the experience to be a great way of orienteering the facilitation team to the models and tools used in the workshops, it was particularly useful as some of the team had never worked at this level before. A warm, generous and professional woman Gwen role models her workshop content.