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Challenges facing Public Service Leaders revealed

New research has revealed the key challenges that leaders from London’s public services must meet, if they are to succeed in today’s modern economy.

One of the key themes that emerged from the research is the importance of developing the talent of employees working in the public services. Other issues highlighted include how public services are delivered and how leaders respond to their position in the public eye.

The recruitment and retention of talent represents a special challenge in London. This is particularly the case in lower paid public service work, where the cost of living and the cost of travel can act as considerable barriers.

The research found that good public service leaders recognise that it is talented individuals who are innovative, if they are given support, freedom to learn and, in some cases, the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.

One of the leaders interviewed, former City of London Police Commissioner James Hart, said: “It’s an issue of how to encourage people to look at complex problems and to innovate complex solutions. It comes back to trust - if it’s not acceptable to be creative, the status quo will persist.”

These insights are part of the findings from Leading in London: The Breakthrough Leadership Report into current leadership good practice in London’s public sector, which employs 25 per cent of the capital’s total workforce.

The team of researchers from the University of Hertfordshire’s Business School, led by Dr Keith Randle, in collaboration with the Talent Foundation and Exemplas, interviewed leaders from across the sector. Those interviewed are successful senior executives from a diverse range of organisations from primary schools to prisons, from fire and rescue to further education colleges and from NHS Trusts to neighbourhood services.

Dr Randle commented: “Leadership practices are particular to the current social economic and political context. However, the situation is extremely dynamic and fast changing; policies change, London is changing, and a new generation of leaders with their own experiences and values must take responsibility for driving London’s public services forward.”

The report also forms the basis of a series of Masterclasses aimed at the next generation of public service leaders to be held in central London in late October and November. For further information visit

Free copies of the Leading in London Report can be obtained from

Emma Dickson | alfa
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