Leadership Essentials

'Leadership Essentials' is a series of series of programmes and workshops’ designed as themed learning opportunities for councillors. Each event concentrates on a specific portfolio area or a specific theme.

Audit Committees: Leadership Essentials

The world of governance, control and audit has moved up the agenda in recent times. As councils grapple with a changing environment, financial resilience, and service transformation, ensuring that the Audit Committee is functioning effectively has never been more important. Meanwhile, the pressures have grown on auditors and council staff to deliver more with less.  Given all that is going on, there has never been a better time to reflect on the role of the Audit Committee. Aimed at Audit Committee chairs, this programme will discuss how Audit Committees can be most effective. Drawing on the insights of regulators and practitioners it will provide space for participants to reflect on the way their Committee functions and how it can gain maximum assurance that the council is managing its services and finances effectively.

Programme 7: Thursday 12 January – Friday 13 January 2023 
Programme 8: Saturday 11 February – Sunday 12 February 2023 

Both events take place at Warwick Conferences, Coventry CV4 7SH.

Fee: The cost of attending this programme is fully subsidised.

Adult social care: Leadership Essentials

We are running the two-day programme for Adult Social Care and Leading Healthier Places simultaneously. These free development events will support Adult Social Care Lead Members and Chairs and Vice Chairs of Health & Wellbeing Boards with the key challenges they face in care and health in a rapidly changing policy landscape.

The events are member led, interactive, and provides lots of opportunities for discussion, the sharing of practice and innovative solutions in a confidential environment and for making valuable contacts. The programmes are delivered by LGA staff supported by high profile guest speakers from local government and partner agencies.

The programmes will explore leadership within the current policy and practice context, including the NHS White Paper and Bill, changes to public health, implications of Covid response and recovery, adult social care funding and reform, and ongoing health and care integration. Some sessions will run across the two programmes and some separately.

Programme 9: Thursday 13 October – Friday 14 October 2022
Warwick Conferences, Coventry CV4 7SH

Fee: The cost of attending this programme is fully subsidised.

More information on other resources for lead members can be found on the Adult social care lead member development page.

Being an effective cabinet member: Leadership Essentials

This exciting programme from the LGA has been designed to meet a significant unmet need in the member development world - a course to support new and experienced cabinet members in being successful in their portfolios.  There are many courses available for scrutiny councillors but this is the first course dedicated to supporting councillors in their role as executive members. 

This interactive course examines the key aspects of being a successful cabinet member - from having a clear understanding of the legacy you want to leave, to working with your director, working with other cabinet members, making effective decisions and managing your workload.  The course is designed to produce a step change in the effectiveness of cabinet members.  It is designed to support all different types of portfolio holders - and is not specific to a specific portfolio.

Who is it for?

New cabinet members; Experience cabinet members wanting a ‘refresh’; Cabinet deputies or assistants; Shadow cabinet members or assistants. 

Programme 14: Thursday 1 December  – Friday 2 December 2022
Programme 15: Thursday 9 February – Friday 10 February 2023
Programme 16:  Saturday 7 January – Sunday 8 January 2023 [Virtual]
Warwick Conferences, Coventry CV4 7SH

Fee: The fee for attending the 2-day residential event is £250 per place which includes accommodation, meals, and all learning materials. The fee for the virtual programme is £99.

Building safety: Leadership Essentials

This two day course will give greater confidence to leaders and portfolio holders to face the challenges of ensuring that buildings – and their residents - are safe.

This course focuses exclusively on the issues affecting councils as housing providers (including overseers of ALMOs, TMOs etc) - specifically those issues affecting councils with high-rise stock (over 18m).  The tragic fire at Grenfell tower in June 2017 illustrated the essential role of portfolio holders in scrutinising the delivery of housing functions and having the correct assurance in place that these are being delivered effectively.

The Fire Safety Act and Building Safety Bill will deliver significant changes to these responsibilities.  This course will help participants to:

  • understand their scrutiny role in overseeing the work of housing departments 
  • understand key policy issues and challenges regarding the new Building Safety regime, with input from key national, regional, and local speakers and create space for reflective thinking 
  • explore new responsibilities as duty holders under both the Building Safety Bill and the Fire Safety Act/Order
  • lead and deliver the practical and cultural changes required in staff training, technology, and assurance processes
  • ensure that resident voice is at the heart of changes to their building safety approach.

The programme runs over two days and is delivered by member peers and local government officers, supported by subject matter experts from local government and partner agencies. 

Who is it for?

It is for leaders, deputy leaders, Portfolio holders with responsibility for housing and members with an interest in building safety.

Programme 4: Tuesday 18 October - Wednesday 19 October 2022
Warwick Conferences, Coventry  CV4  7SH

Programme 5: Wednesday 1 February – Thursday 2 February 2023
Warwick Conferences, Coventry  CV4  7SH

Fee: The event is fully subsidised including accommodation and refreshments.

Communication and media: political leadership masterclass

As a leading councillor you play a pivotal role in raising awareness of your local area and organisation through the media. We’re running an intense five-hour virtual masterclass to develop and enhance interview skills. The session will be run by Scott Chisholm, who advises some of the country’s top politicians and the world’s most influential corporate executives. You will learn:

  • how to be in control of any encounter with any journalist
  • how to prepare and present
  • how a journalist thinks
  • what makes news, news
  • your rights
  • how to exploit difficult questions
  • how to influence, rather than merely inform
  • the 3 ‘R’s of damage imitation and crisis management

Programme 27: Thursday 7 July (Face to Face) – Warwick Conferences
Programme 28:
Thursday 8 September (Virtual)
Programme 29: Friday 28 October (Virtual)
Timings: 9.30am – 3.30pm

Fee: The cost of attending this programme is fully subsidised and will all be virtual. 

Children's services: Leadership Essentials

Lead Members for Children's Services are responsible for providing leadership to Children's Services in their area and hold a statutory role. This development event is funded as part of the sector led improvement programme and aims to support Lead Members with the key challenges they face in the changing policy landscape and to develop leadership capacity, share learning and provide a valuable networking opportunity. This programme is also for Chairs of Children's Services scrutiny committee.

The programme runs over two days and is delivered by member peers and LGA staff supported by guest speakers from local government and partner agencies. We are offering a choice of three programme dates:

Programme 36: Tuesday 12 July – Wednesday 13 July 2022
Programme 37: Thursday 13 October – Friday 14 October 2022
Programme 38: Thursday 15 December – Friday 16 December 2022
Warwick Conferences, Coventry  CV4  7SH

Programmes 39: Virtual Programme – Dates to be confirmed

Fee: The cost of attending this programme is fully subsidised.

Climate emergency: Leadership Essentials

The programme will help senior councillors with responsibility for climate change to explore the crucial local leadership role in responding to the climate emergency. Featuring a range of inputs, practical sessions and discussions, the programme will explore themes including community engagement, action planning, current climate change issues and how councils can bring partners together.

This Carbon Literacy Project accredited online course will explore the solutions offered by the Zero Carbon Britain end point vision. During the course you’ll commit to two carbon reducing actions; one as an individual and one which will influence a group of individuals. We encourage these to be work-based actions in order to support low carbon culture change within councils. These actions will be evaluated by the Carbon Literacy Project in order for you to be certified as Carbon Literate, enabling you to go on to train others in your sector or area of work. 

Programme 10: Wednesday 21 September – Thursday 22 September 2022

Programme 11: Tuesday 11 October – Wednesday 12 October 2022

Timings: First day 9.30am-4.30pm and second day 9.30am-4.00pm with plenty of breaks through the two days

Fee: The cost of attending this programme is fully subsidised and will all be virtual via Zoom.

Cultural services: Leadership Essentials

Leadership Essentials Culture event for Portfolio Holders

After 12 very successful programmes, we are delighted to be working in partnership with Arts Council England to deliver further Leadership Essentials Cultural Services programmes for leading members with responsibility for Cultural Services.  At this critical time for cultural services, the programme will support leading councillors to develop an integrated cultural offer against a backdrop of reducing budgets.

The programme aims to help participants:

develop a better understanding of the role integrated cultural services can play in communities understand the extent of transformation that is now required in the planning, delivery and development of cultural services. consider how councils can use cultural services to improve outcomes for their communities learn from good practice across the country understand more about how Arts Council England and LGA can support participants to carry out their leadership roles more effectively.

Programme 16: New dates for 2021/22 to be announced soon

Fee: The cost of attending this programme is fully subsidised.  This includes accommodation, meals, course materials and tuition.   Accommodation is available for the pre-night.


The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the essential role of portfolio holders and leaders in championing the delivery of digital programmes and support offers for residents and staff to create assurances, trust and effective service provision in the 21st century. DLUHC, DCMS and Cabinet Office see local government as an enabler for levelling up objectives. Councils need to become agile organisations to facilitate the drivers for change in their local place and digitalisation is the key enabler to accomplish this.

This programme focuses exclusively on twelve strategic outcomes of digitalisation which were agreed with the sector and launched through a partnership between the LGA, Socitm and Solace to provide an overarching goal for what local government should be pursuing in their digitalisation journey. These range from, inclusion, connectivity, cyber security, data, effective service delivery and achieving value for money.

This two day programme will give greater confidence to leaders and portfolio holders to harness the potential of digitalisation in local government to provide for the communities they serve and will help participants to:

  • understand their scrutiny role in overseeing the delivery of digitalisation
  • understand the twelve key outcomes to digitalisation
  • understand key policy issues and challenges regarding the delivery of these principles, with input from key national, regional, and local speakers creating a space for reflective thinking
  • explore responsibilities and challenges as key portfolio holders
  • lead and deliver the practical and cultural changes required in staff training, technology, and assurance processes
  • ensure that residents voices are at the heart of service design and the digitalisation agenda in their local place.

The programme is delivered by subject matter experts with support from member peers and local government officers and partner agencies and you have a choice of attending the two-day residential programme on 19-20 November with an optional pre-night dinner on the 18 November or the two-day virtual programme on the 6 – 7 December 2022.

Who is it for?: It is for leaders, deputy leaders, portfolio holders with responsibility for digital agendas and members with an interest in cyber, digital and technology.

Programme 1: Saturday, 19 November 2022 – Sunday 20 November 2022
Timings: Starting at 9.30 on first day and finishing at 3.00 on second day.
Location: Conference Aston Hotel & Conference Centre, Aston Street, The Aston Triangle, Birmingham, B4 7ET

Programme 2: Tuesday 6 December 2022 – Wednesday 7 December 2022
Timings: 9.30am – 4.30pm on both days with plenty of breaks through the two days
Location: Virtual via Microsoft Teams

We will also be hosting four half day workshops in January for those unable to attend the full course dates. We will be sharing details soon. To book onto the Programme 1 or 2 please email grace.collins@local.gov.uk

Fee: The cost of attending this programme is fully subsidised which includes accommodation and meals. Optional prenight accommodation is available as well.

Economic Growth: Leadership Essentials

The LGA’s Improvement team is looking to continue its support work for its member councils around Economic Growth. As part of the LGA’s work to provide political leadership support to councillors on this agenda and in response to calls from member authorities, the LGA is offering two Leadership Essentials programmes for 2022/23 covering Economic Growth. This programme is aimed at Leaders, Deputy Leaders and relevant portfolio holders / committee chairs

The programme will provide leadership training around economic growth, development, and resilience, and be organised by expert facilitators. The aim is to give councillors the confidence, capacity and skills to lead growth in their local areas. Both of the programmes are a two-day residential programme, and topics could include:

  • Principles of economic growth and the councillor role
  • The link between economic growth and health
  • The role of cultural services
  • The councillor role in engaging with investors and local businesses
  • How councillors can encourage an increase in aspirations regarding skills and jobs amongst local people
  • The Levelling Up agenda with practical examples

Programme 3: Tuesday 18 October – Wednesday 19 October 2022

Programme 4:  Tuesday 15 November – Wednesday 16 November 2022

Location: Warwick Conferences, Coventry, CV4  7SH

Fee: The cost of attending this programme is fully subsidised.

Effective scrutiny: Leadership Essentials

The Leadership Essentials: Effective Scrutiny 2-day programme is for new or aspiring scrutiny chairs or task-and-finish group review lead members covering: 

  • Leading and managing a scrutiny review
  • Ensuring impact of scrutiny recommendations
  • Increasing participation by members and the public
  • Chairing scrutiny meetings in all their forms

Drawing on experts in their field, the programme will also offer the opportunity to focus in depth on the hot topics that are currently most relevant to your work, whether that is children’s safeguarding, welfare reform, changes in health services or pressure on budgets driving major changes in how services are delivered or commissioned.

Programme 17: Thursday 22 September – Friday 23 September 2022    
Programme 18:
Saturday 21 January – Sunday 22 January 2023
Warwick Conferences, Coventry  CV4  7SH

Programme 19:  Thursday 8th December – Friday 9th December 2022  - [Virtual] 

Fee: The fee for attending the 2-day residential event is £250 per place which includes accommodation, meals and all learning materials. The fee for the virtual programme is £99.

Finance: Leadership Essentials

This two-day residential programme will help leaders and finance portfolio holders get to grips with the financial challenges facing their authority.  The course discusses setting longer term strategies for sustainability as well as balancing the budget on an annual basis and how to work with officers to ensure that the Council is making the most of its opportunities. 

Designed for Leaders and finance portfolio holders, this programme is an opportunity to focus on financial management and governance ahead of the final stages of the 2023/24 budget process, but also to look longer term at what the strategic options may be for the Council and its local area.  Participants will hear from a variety of speakers with experience of financial leadership in difficult times and experts on the financial impact of change. This course is also suitable for the Chairs of Audit Committees and those responsible for finance scrutiny.

Topic covered will include:

  • the role of leaders and portfolio holders in a changing financial environment
  • working with others to make sense of the opportunities
  • understanding the council’s finances
  • navigating the budget process
  • the financial aspects of the new delivery models 
  • recognising a good business case for change.

Programme 24: Thursday 13 October 2022 – Friday 14 October 2022 (full) 
Programme 25: Saturday 5 November – Sunday 6 November 2022 (full)
Programme 26: Saturday 26 November – Sunday 27 November 2022

All take place at Warwick Conferences, Coventry, CV4 7SH.

Fee: The cost of attending this programme is fully subsidised, but places are limited and will be offered on a strict first come first served basis.

Finance for Non-Finance Cabinet Members: Leadership Essentials

This exciting new course will de-mystify the financial elements of your portfolio. While all councillors understand the current financial pressures and their importance, many councillors – including cabinet members - find local government finance difficult to understand and hard to navigate. Too often financial leadership is left to the cabinet member for finance but all cabinet members need to understand finances and be comfortable with their financial roles. 

The course is aimed specifically for non-finance portfolio holders, supporting their financial roles by:

Increasing non-finance cabinet members’ understanding of the contemporary local government finance system and likely future developments in the system. Providing tools and practical advice to enable cabinet members to navigate their own authorities’ financial systems and controls. Increasing the confidence of cabinet members in developing constructive relationships with key financial managers (including the section 151 officer). Enabling participants to identify and specify the financial management elements of a portfolio’s role. Enabling participants to better integrate financial information with non-financial service performance information.

Programme 2: Thursday 10 November 2022
Warwick Conferences, Coventry CV4 7SH

Fee: The cost of attending this programme is fully subsidised. 

Interactive, practical and engaging – and high accessible for cabinet members less comfortable with the financial aspects of their portfolio.

Who is it for?

  • Non-finance portfolio holders
  • Non-finance deputy/assistant cabinet members
  • Shadow cabinet members
  • Non finance Committee chairs from committee systems
New: Leadership essentials:
Financial governance: Leadership Essentials

By law, councillors are “charged with governance”, meaning that it is essential that every councillor understands what effective financial governance looks like and are aware of their role in ensuring that the council’s systems, processes and culture deliver effective financial governance arrangements.

This new four-session online seminar series is designed to provide an accessible and practical overview of what is meant by financial governance. The first session provides an overview of financial governance and is particularly suited to newly-elected councillors and those who would appreciate a refresher on financial governance basics. Subsequent sessions build upon the learning in the previous sessions so that by the end of the programme you will have a thorough grounding in the various rules, systems and processes that make up an effective financial governance framework and will able to contribute effectively as your council seeks to make sure that its finances are well governed.

Programme 1

Session 1 – Principles, rules and processes
Saturday 21 January 2023 10am-12pm via Zoom
Session 2 – Decision making
Saturday 21 January 2023 2pm-4pm via Zoom
Session 3 – Monitoring performance and outcomes
Saturday 28 January 2023 10am-12pm via Zoom
Session 4 – Audit and scrutiny
Saturday 28 January 2023 2pm-4pm via Zoom

Programme 2

Session 1 – Principles, rules and processes
Wednesday 25 January 2023 10am-12pm via Zoom
Session 2 – Decision making
Wednesday 25 January 2023 2pm - 4pm via Zoom
Session 3 – Monitoring performance and outcomes
Wednesday 1 February 2023 10am-12pm via Zoom
Session 4 – Audit and scrutiny
Wednesday 1 February 2023 2pm – 4pm via Zoom

To book email grace.collins@local.gov.uk

Fire and Rescue: Leadership Essentials

Fire Leadership Essentials to support Fire and Rescue Authority (FRA) members with their responsibilities.   By the end of the course, delegates will have had the opportunity to:

  • Develop a comprehensive understanding of the fire sector, including clarity on duties and responsibilities
  • Develop skills around leadership in fire and rescue authorities (FRAs).
  • Gain a thorough understanding of scrutiny and governance in FRAs and practical skills to apply that understanding.
  • Improve knowledge of the key strategic issues facing the sector, including fire reform, building safety, the fire inspections regime and issues around culture, inclusion and diversity in the fire sector.
  • Share ideas and network with leading members from a variety of FRAs.

Programme 17: Wednesday 9 November – Thursday 10 November 2022
Warwick Conferences, Coventry  CV4  7SH

Fee: The cost of attending this programme is fully subsidised

We encourage all fire members to attend a fire programme as an induction to the fire sector and as an opportunity to network with other fire members.

Getting your message across: Leadership Essentials

This event will provide councillors with the new ideas, strategies and techniques for achieving more effective communication with both internal and external audiences. Participants will learn how to:

  • Influence others towards achieving mutually beneficial objectives
  • Adapt their communication style to convey messages more persuasively to people who have a different communication style
  • Be more effective when delivering and managing bad news
  • Develop a more authoritative communication style
  • Build and promote their own personal brand
  • Target the right message at the right audience and establish trust and credibility and build relationships
  • Overcome barriers to effective communication
  • Select the best tools and methods for delivering messages.

Programme 8: Saturday 14 January – Sunday 15 January 2023

Warwick Conferences, Coventry CV4 7SH

Fee: The fee for attending the two-day residential event is £250 per place which includes accommodation, meals and all learning materials.

Housing: Leadership Essentials

This programme is aimed at Leaders, Deputy Leaders and relevant portfolio holders. It will be designed to help participants develop their leading role in shaping the local housing market to meet the needs of people and places. It will include focuses on understanding the housing market, developing and delivering a vision with partners, and delivering ambitions to improve the availability, affordability and suitability of new and existing housing.

Programme 3: Thursday, 19 January – Friday, 20 January 2023

Warwick Conferences, Coventry CV4 7SH

Fee: The fee for attending the 2-day residential event is £250 per place which includes accommodation, meals and all learning materials.

Licensing: Leadership Essentials

Decision making at licensing committee: how to run a good licensing committee – for licensing committee/ sub-committee chairs and vice-chairs

This leadership essentials programme is perfect for those councillors who are new and getting to grips with their role on the licensing committee, as well as for more experienced committee members as a refresher and update.

Licensing, and the decisions made by licensing committees, make a fundamental contribution to shaping places where people want to live, work and relax. The aim of the licensing committee must be that those people they engage with are satisfied with the decision making process, if not always the outcome.

Chairing a committee, and all the preparation and lead-in required for good decision making, can be challenging. This course will focus on good quality decision making at licensing committee and how a good licensing committee is run. It also touches on where licensing links in with wider council priorities. Attendees will be able to compare how their committee operates with other authorities and share ideas with other councillors.

Programme 4: Wednesday 8th - Thursday 9th March 2023.

Fee: The cost of attending is fully subsidised. This includes accommodation, meals and course materials.

Risk Management Political Leadership Masterclass

What is the role of elected members in the risk management process? Can’t this be left to the Audit Committee? What should we do with the risk register that the officers report to us?

There is truth in the cliche that the greatest risk for councils in the current climate is to take no risk. Consequently, every council has had to develop strategies to transform the way they deliver services, whilst ensuring that the council’s finances remain resilient. However, recent government and audit reports written where such strategies have run into difficulties have highlighted that elected members are not as engaged as they should be in ensuring that risk is effectively managed throughout the authority.  

This seminar will enable participants to develop their understanding of how risk should be identified, assessed, and managed throughout the council. Please bring a copy of your latest risk register with you to the seminar as there will be plenty of time for you to reflect upon the risk management process at your council.

Programme 6: Wednesday 12 October 2022

Fee: The cost of attending this programme is fully subsidised.

Sport and Physical Activity: Leadership Essentials

Following demand, the LGA and Sport England are piloting a return to face-to-face delivery of the popular Leadership Essentials: Sport programme. 

Aims of the programme

The programme supports elected members to: 

  • engage with Sport England’s new ten-year Strategy ‘Uniting the Movement’, that continues to champion sport and physical activity’s ability to make better places to live and bring people together, and explore how taking a place-based approach can help tackle the barriers to activity 
  • develop in their role to lead the design of a local sport, physical activity and movement offer that improves activity levels and the health and wellbeing of local communities, contributes to reducing the burden on social care, tackles health inequalities, contributes to levelling up activity and encourages connected communities
  • develop knowledge and insight of other policy areas to better lead a collaborative approach to harnessing the power of sport, physical activity and movement to improve lives in their place 
  • explore their own approach to leadership in collaborative partnerships and see how leadership is important in influencing system change, identifying and pursuing development needs as appropriate 
  • create fit for purpose sport and physical activity opportunities with diminishing resources, focusing on the assets of their spaces and places – including leisure facilities and developing more active environments
  • understand more about how Sport England and the LGA can help and support councillors to lead change and become better leaders for their places 

Programme 29: Tuesday 14 June (5pm) – Thursday 16  June 2022 (2.15pm)
Venue: Cranfield Management Development Centre, Cranfield University, College Road, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, MK43 0AL

Fee: there is no charge to attend. Meals and accommodation are provided.

For more information or to book, contact:
Grace Collins
Telephone: 020 7664 3054
Email: Grace.Collins@local.gov.uk