Walk Tall transcript

Sarah Messenger, Head of Workforce, LGA
(Time 0.00.05-0.01.16)

The reason the LGA PPMA and Solace came together to produce the E-book Walk Tall, is because we were really impressed by the fantastic research that the University of Birmingham did to develop the concept of a 21st Century public servant.  But we wanted to take it further we wanted to really bring it to life with real stories, written by real people who work in councils and other parts of the public sector, making a difference on a day to day basis with what they do and how they do it.  So that’s why what we thought an eBook was really a new way of delivering messages and information and powerful stories to people across the sector.

We called it Walk Tall because the book should be about pride, pride in what we do and pride in how we do it and individual pride and so Walk Tall I think was a natural title that really brings across that pride but also that sense of movement, that we don’t just sit there, we are up and we are about and we are making a difference in peoples lives.  So we are going to hear from Steve and from Sue both of whom contributed to Walk Tall and they’ll share their stories, but first we are going to hear from Catherine from the University of Birmingham who lead the research into the 21st Century Public Servant.

Catherine Mangan, Director, Public Service Academy, University of Birmingham
(Time 0.01.16-0.02.18)

The work that Catherine Needham and I did built on the Public Services Commission at the University which looked at the future of local public services and the associated different roles and skills that public servants were going to need play in the future in order to respond to the different environment in which they are working. Some of the key findings included the fact that we are going to need very different roles for our public servants in the future, roles including being a story teller, being a broker, being a navigator and negotiator and amongst all I think being a municipal entrepreneur acting on behalf of the residents in your area and the associated skills which we need to support those different roles are going to change so although people will still need professional hard sort of specific type of skills, what‘s more important nowadays is going to be those softer skills of organising, listening, emotional intelligence, caring, compassion and we need to see a way in which people are recruited and rewards for those soft skills as well as the harder skills. 

Steve Winterflood, Chief Executive, South Staffordshire Council
(Time 0.02.20-0.04.04)

I think the role in terms of leadership that chief execs should be adopting, is a collaborative leadership really. Chief eExecs like to think they’ve got all the answers but the truth is the answers and the good ideas, or a fair amount of them, are out there in our organisations. So it’s a matter of talking to the people in your organisation, teasing those ideas out, facilitating the implementation of those ideas. I think in this ever changing world that we are in at the moment, the days of command and control are over. I guess my top tips to develop a 21st century work force, I think the first one is we must learn from the private sector. Now I am not saying the private sector have got all the answers, because they certainly haven’t but we can learn so much from them and taking that experience on board we can create a 21st century local authority and that’s a 21st century public servant.  So learning from the private sector I think is really really important. The second thing and it’s captured in the 21st century public servant is we’ve got a challenge, as leaders we have to challenge and we have to smash those silos that have been so dominant in local Government in the past. I guess my final thing is that we must never forget that we are public servants, we are here to serve, we call them customers here but by focusing everything on what our customers need, then I think that stops things that prevents things going terribly wrong. But I think the 21st century public servant is a really exciting and I’d say pertinent piece of research. But what the eBook does it takes things forward, in that it explains in the words of people that work in the public sector, what the 21st century public servant means to them.

Sue Hawkins, Psychologist, Stockport Council
(Time 0.04.05-0.06.06)

The story that I wrote for the book was, it’s a fictional story but it typifies some of the young people that we see, in that quite often they’ll come to us on a relatively minor offence and then what unravels is really quite a history of difficulty and, in this case, trauma and neglect. I think it’s really important that we hear those stories and that the young people are able to tell them. But the second bit for me for the work that I do is really about helping that reframe those stories so that they can move on. And for this young woman it was really about her using her experience as kind of something quite transformative in her life and she decides at the end of the piece of work that we did, that she would like to train and become a nursery nurse and to give something back and nurture children. For me it’s really about working with people as equals and I think really valuing what they have to offer and hopefully empowering them to be better citizens that’s really what we are about. And that often when we work in particular with young people who are just transitioning into adulthood they are probably going to have partners, they are going to have other relationships, they are perhaps going to have children of their own and if we can make a difference at that point in their lives then it might make a difference to lots of people’s lives ultimately and that’s a really really very satisfying role to be in. Well I think first of all to be a 21st century public servant you have to have a passion to want to make a difference to people’s lives and I think it’s really a privilege to be able to do that. Particularly to work with some of the most vulnerable members of our community. This book’s really important for people to read because it’s full of inspirational stories from people who work in the public sector across the country and also I think it’s a great resource for those of us who work in the public sector because it’s full of stories that we can all learn from and I think finally it’s a very heart-warming book and it feels very positive to read it.

Catherine Mangan, Director, Public Service Academy, University of Birmingham
Time (0.06.07-0.06.29)

I think the idea of an eBook with stories in is great, we hope that people will use it in their team meetings to discuss what being a 21st century public servant might feel like, might look like, we hope that HR teams will use it to engage frontline staff, in terms of “how might I become a 21st century public servant” and we hope that people might be able to use it to think about how they might be able to recruit and retain people in a different way.