Learning Journey

Yesterday I started a strategic leadership development programme at the council and wanted to share some reflections and learning from the day.

Firstly though I’ll explain a bit more about what the programme is about. The programme is called “Leading through Engagement” and is Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) accredited to level level 7.

On the ILM website they explain what the level means through the “knowing – being – doing framework” and it states the following – This made my eyebrows raise and gave me a realisation that I’ve been included alongside very senior managers in the council and now is the time I need to stand up and be counted alongside them:

ILM membership grade: Fellow
Qualification level (QCF): 7
Academic equivalent: Post-graduate degree

Knowing –key competencies:
Advanced and effective leadership, critical thinking and research skills, builds commitment to the corporate vision and values; ability to make hard decisions and solve problems, understands the key strategic issues in function-specific areas (HR, Marketing, Finance, Operations, R&D).

Doing – able to:

  • Lead senior management team; provide vision and direction for the organisation.
  • Provide organisational leadership. Develop corporate policy and strategy, lead change, optimise organisational capacity, develop excellence and a customer-focused approach; ensure long-term financial stability and growth.

Being – demonstrated by:
Leaders and senior executives who deliver business success through living the values of the organisation. They consistently demonstrate high ethical standards and personal integrity.

The day itself was focused on introducing the programme, getting to know the other candidates and also exploring some of the tools such as StrengthScope. Part of this exploration meant that we spoke a lot about strengths, natural abilities and developing and harnessing those as opposed to focusing and identifying people’s weaknesses.

We went through a few exercises and explored what things meant to us and I had a key reflection around why it is that I have a really good balance in my life at the current time (despite the apparent chaos and uncertainty all around)

One of the exercises asked us to think about what we do which makes us feel “energised” and when we feel we “do our best work”

One of the key features of the programme is to encourage all participants to write a journal, so I’ve now got an additional focus for this blog as it will feature a range of posts which are reflections driven out of the programme as well as everyday reflections which are now becoming a common feature of this blog.

During the day I made a variety of scribbled notes on my iPad and this helped me reflect as we went through the day and also to make connections to others things visually. The following illustrates how the things that make me feel energised and  when I’m at my best fit into my wider life.


The three things that I stated were:

  • solving problems – which is generally met by work and voluntary work
  • playing games – which is generally met through my family
  • having a space to think  – which is generally met by cycling along Devon’s country lanes.

These three things actually happen in all aspects of my life but in a general sense they fitted broadly speaking against how I live my life…probably a simple conclusion but sometimes you don’t get to appreciate these simple things until you focus on them in this way.

The programme itself is focusing on three areas

  1. Strategic Development
  2. Engagement
  3. Inspiration

We went through an exercise in groups where we discussed in an informal “cafe style” way some challenging questions around those three areas and were asked to doodle and capture key words and to simply let the conversation flow.

We then fed back and shared those conversations with others and this naturally developed the conversation and discussion further and it was very reassuring to hear similar views and perspectives from the others around the challenges and issues and also some of the opportunities moving forward.

Our Chief Executive – Phil Norrey – came and sat down with us and shared his views and thoughts on the programme, why it is important to develop and nurture capacity and leadership – he also shared a very insightful perspective and his thoughts on the local government landscape. It isn’t often you get a chance to simply sit down with the Chief Executive and have an open discussion and conversation about these challenges issues without any worry about feeling there is an expectation for an answer to pop out of it.  Phil has a clear vision around the future and how that might play out and this came across, although he acknowledged that there are no easy answers and collectively we all need to rethink, reframe and reinvent engagement to better meet the challenges ahead.

So what does this all mean to me and how will I benefit from this process – well that is something only I can really decide, the process really supports and rewards those who put hard work and effort in. Where it takes me I don’t know, it does however allow me to test myself, push myself, to be brave and to stand up and become a more effective leader within the council to help the people around me and others during what is a very challenging and tough time.

Given the circumstances I’m really excited to be starting this and I look forward to the journey.


6 thoughts on “Learning Journey

  1. Hello Carl, this sounds like a great programme. Are the other candidates DCC folks or is it external? I have just started the Clore Leadership Programme and it sounds as though we will be on similar journeys over the next few months. How long is your programme? This Guardian blog post explains what Clore is quite well: http://www.theguardian.com/culture-professionals-network/culture-professionals-blog/2011/dec/14/culture-leaders-clore-leadership. I’ve been thinking about writing a blog about my experiences too so perhaps we can inspire and support each other through this means! Anna

    1. Hi Anna,

      yes this is a DCC thing, although there are a few people from NHS and Public health.

      I’ve noticed a few of your tweets relating to CLORE and did wonder what it was…I think supporting each other and being able to bounce ideas, thoughts etc would be very welcome from my point of view…perhaps an occasional coffee and face to face catch up as well when you are in county hall would be good.


      1. That would be lovely – I’m all for face-to-face in this digital age (though I am not over there very often any more!)!

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