20 Mar 2014

Leadership in the Public Sector - Opportunities for upskilling

In the blog post below, Laura Connaughton outlines her experiences of completing a Level 6 Award in Leadership from the ILM through Public Affairs Ireland, including the potential benefits for those working in management roles in LIS.

Guest Post by Laura Connaughton, Assistant Librarian, Library Information Services, NUI Maynooth Library

Public Affairs Ireland, in partnership with the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), offered this course over three days based in Public Affairs Ireland offices in Mountjoy Square, Dublin 1. The ILM is a London-based management organisation that partners with Public Affairs Ireland to improve leadership and management performance through its range of learning and management programmes. Its Level 6 Award in Leadership is a “qualification exploring leadership roles and theories, self-leadership, winning and maintaining commitment, setting and communicating direction”. The course is three full days in duration with home reading and a written assessment.

Day One
Day one focussed mainly on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a framework designed to look at and understand ourselves, how we operate in the workplace and opportunities to develop in our role as leader/manager. For those who have not completed MBTI before, this is a really excellent opportunity to do so as each person’s personality type is explained in great detail by the instructor. Not only do you get to understand your own personality type, you get a greater understanding of other types and how types ‘complement’ each other in the workplace. Some of this day was participatory and we completed exercises to demonstrate the influence of each type in the workplace. On day one we also assessed the prevailing leadership style and culture in our own organisation.

Day Two
Day two looked at leadership definitions, roles and responsibilities. We also looked at leadership theories and the different styles these illustrate. Individually and collectively through group work, we identified our own leadership characteristics, strengths and limitations. One of the most important aspects of day two was learning how to identify opportunities to develop oneself in a leadership role.

Day Three
Motivation was the focal point of day three. We looked at motivation theory and how motivation and staff needs are interlinked, how to promote performance and motivation – putting theories into practice. In the second part of the final day, we discussed communication in leadership along with how to develop and achieve commitment to vision and goals for projects/work. Finally we looked at the importance of the leader’s role in protecting and mentoring team members.

The target audience of this course is public sector employees who, in the course of their work, are expected to perform a leadership role. The course I attended included members of staff from the civil service mainly. All attendees were in managerial roles. All participants were encouraged to share their own experiences, in confidence, and participate in the group exercises and presentations.

As a relatively new manager, I found the course to be both eye-opening and extremely interesting. Firstly, by garnering an in-depth understanding (MBTI) of my own personality I was immediately able to see how it influences my own behaviour in the workplace and how others perceive me as a leader/manager. Interestingly I found that afterwards I could apply my MBTI diagnosis to focus on my strengths in the workplace but also, importantly, my weaknesses. It also taught me to recognise personality traits in my team and how different personality types complement each other.

The theoretical element of this course introduced the attendees to leadership and the vast amount of theory written on the topic. By understanding this theory, we became equipped to identify the existing leadership styles in our own team and wider organisation and also to assess the effect existing leadership styles have on behaviour and performance. Hand in hand with leadership theory came motivation theory and we learned how to develop our own ability to motivate others, especially now in a climate where monetary motivation is virtually non-existent. What I found most useful throughout the three days was learning how to develop our own ability to apply different leadership styles, as appropriate to the situation and the team members involved. A good leader does not just have one ‘style’; a good leader can alternate between styles, such as a democratic, pacesetting, coaching, authoritative or affliliative style - or a combination of all.

Overall, I would recommend this course, not just for people new to leadership but particularly people who have been managers for quite some time. I felt we were taught the tools to maximise our own ability to perform effectively in our leadership role. The course was highly participatory and I found the instructor to be excellent and encouraging.

The assessment is a written reflective review of between 1500 and 2500 words on “Assessing your own leadership capability and performance”. Participants must complete and pass this assessment before receiving the certificate in Leadership.

The course fee is €995 + €115 ILM registration and certification fees for Public Affairs Ireland subscribers. For non PAI subscribers, it costs €1250 + €115 ILM registration and certification fees. The next course will be held in May 2014.

Image by PhotoSteve1010 http://www.flickr.com/photos/42931449@N07/5217160895/
Recommended Readings
Goffee, R. and Jones, G. (2000) Why should anyone be lead by you? Harvard Business Review, 78: pp. 63-70
Goleman, D. (2000) Leadership that gets results. Harvard Business Review, 78 (1), pp. 78-90
Goleman, D. (1998) What makes a leader?, Harvard Business Review, 76(1), pp. 92-102
Herzberg, F. (2003) One more time: how do you motivate employees? Harvard Business Review, 81 (1), pp. 86-91
Kotter, J. (1999) What leaders really do. United States of America: Harvard Business Review


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