We trust each other and take responsibility

    To do this effectively each of us needs to: 

    • Understand the importance of distributed leadership – recognising we can all be leaders wherever we are in the organisation

    • Take responsibility and hold ourselves and others to account for what we’ve said we’ll do

    • Manage risk

    • Make sure we comply with legislation and procedures

    Find out a bit more about each of these below or click on the link to remind yourself of the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed in this section

    Why is this important?

    The Council’s delivery plan for 2019 describes our future workforce as being:

    • Multi-skilled with an ability to go where needed and careers that are varied
    • Involved in matrix working, agile working and collaboration
    • Learners, coaches, mentors, experimenters and problem solvers
    • Digital, adaptive, connected, open, data informed and future focused
    • Adept at really listening to customers and understanding their needs

    This is not just the workforce we need for the future – it’s the workforce we need right now.

    What does distributed leadership mean in the council?

    As technology changes the way we work and as the workforce becomes smaller and leaner with fewer layers of hierarchy we have no choice but to move from a traditional command and control structure where close supervision is the norm to a much more empowered and self-sufficient workforce where everyone is a leader.

    We expect our traditional leaders to be connected to the organisation’s purpose, see the bigger picture, collaborate with each other, inspire and motivate us, look at ways to continually improve our service and how we work.  Distributed leadership means all of us taking on that same role.  If all of us acted as leaders we would naturally increase the organisation’s ability to grow, to be innovative and creative – to be a successful organisation. 

    Where are we on our journey towards distributed leadership …

    • We began in 2017 with our Building a Council for the Future report
    • This led in 2018-19 to developing our Guiding Principles with staff from across the council
    • The next step was to create the Capability Framework which will allow staff to develop the broad skills, knowledge and behaviours to allow them move more flexibly across the organisation
    • Next Performance Review and Development (PR&D) was revised to become Continuous Review and Development (CR&D) to give staff greater responsibility for their own performance
    • We’re also in the process of reviewing policies, processes and ways of working to align them with our Guiding Principles and developing management and leadership capability through a coaching culture.

    What does it mean for me?

    Distributed leadership should lead to a more satisfying way of working for all of us but it needs us all to be willing to take on that new way of working – to take responsibility, to find our voice and join in the debate about things that affect us, whether that’s at 1:1s, team meetings or through the opportunities that regularly arise to join groups across the council such as becoming a customer service or digital champion.

    For managers it means encouraging distributed leadership by taking a coaching, mentoring and enabling style and by being willing to listen and encourage ideas and suggestions. It means being visible and accessible, being willing to listen and to encourage ideas and suggestions.  It means connecting people to our purpose, agreeing outcomes with them trusting and empowering them to deliver these outcomes, holding them accountable for delivery and giving the necessary support and development.

    Wondering how you can develop in this area further?

    Explore online learning such as: 

    Book on to Face to face :

    Why is this important?

    The importance of trust was a recurring theme in the last two Employee Opinion Surveys.  When the Guiding Principles were developed ‘trust’ was so important to people that it became one of the Principles.  So clearly trust matters to people. 

    But trust can’t exist unless we believe that what we trust in will happen.  So, the Guiding Principle staff created was not ‘We trust each other’ but ‘We trust each other and take responsibility’.  Without that second part there can be no trust.  Trust goes hand in hand with accountability for doing what we say we will do.

    What does holding self and others to account mean?

    As part of creating the Guiding Principles staff gave examples of what each of the Principles looks like – and doesn’t look like.  The examples given to describe ‘We trust each other and take responsibility’ make it very clear what holding self and others to account means – there’s probably no further explanation required.

    Looks like

                  Doesn’t look like

    We face up to things – we learn from mistakes and move on

     Every day’s a school day – we look for ways to improve, we’re open to feedback to help us develop

    We set up, take ownership and deliver a great job

    We’re open about what we’re doing and encourage input from others

    We make every penny count – we spend public money wisely

     If we see something that needs changed, we do something to change it

    We do what we say we’ll do

                  That’s not my job

                   Moaning but not doing anything about it

                   Hiding things or sweeping them under the carpet


                   Slopey shoulders

                   Being hypocritical

                   Saying one thing and doing another

    What does it mean for me?

    Continuous Review and Development (CR&D) sets out what each of us is accountable for:

    We’re all accountable for our own performance in each of these areas and for keeping our manager up to date with our progress on these through regular catch-ups and through CoreHR

    Why is this important?

    Everything we do comes with some degree of risk – even crossing the road.  Similarly, there are risks in every action we take as an organisation.  Yet if we worried too much about every possible risk we would take no action at all.  The trick is to find the balance between being risk averse and protecting the organisation from reckless behaviour.  On the scale of being risk averse to risk aggressive the council aims to be risk aware. 

    What does managing risk mean in the council?

    Risk management is all about assessing the chances of something happening and the impact if it did happen then finding ways to reduce the chances of it happening and minimising the impact.  The council has a risk management framework which provides guidance on managing risk by setting out how to identify, assess, respond to, monitor and report risks. 

    We have a corporate risk register where our Corporate Management Team (CMT) can monitor the most significant risks to the organisation.  We also have policies, procedures and guidance which help us manage risks better.  At the same time risk management is everyone’s responsibility and the Employee Code of Conduct sets out how we expect employees to behave in order to reduce risk to  themselves and to the organisation.

    Internal audit and various external bodies such as the Care Inspectorate, the Health and Safety Executive and the Information Commissioner also monitor how we’re operating.  These bodies have the power to impose sanctions or fines where there are any breaches – for example data breaches or health and safety incidents.

    What does it mean for me?

    Although the organisation has safeguards in place to protect it, it is people who carry out the day to day actions associated with risk.  We all have a responsibility for managing risk in our area of work.  That means making sure we work in a safe and legal way, protecting the council’s resources (data, money and property) and protecting the council’s reputation.  We also have a responsibility for raising concerns and issues that might put colleagues or customers at risk

    Why is this important?

    As a council, we have a duty to make sure we carry out our work in a way that reduces or eliminates risk.  The Council’s Policy Framework describes the main risks we might face as:

    • compliance – not meeting our legal or regulatory requirements
    • operational – people, equipment or buildings preventing us carrying out day to day operations safely and effectively
    • financial – risks to our finances either income or expenditure
    • reputational – actions that might have a negative effect on the reputation of the council or of the city.

    What does ensuring compliance with procedures mean in the council?

    If any of the risks described above are considered to be significant the council has a duty to provide training so that we can be sure people understand how these risks apply in their role and what their responsibilities are. 

    Some of that training will apply to everyone, some to specific groups such as managers and some will be for specific professions or jobs – such as asbestos training.

    Our Corporate Management Team (CMT) have agreed the following training as being mandatory for:

    All staff

    Information Governance

    Why – so that all staff understand their responsibility for using council information and data properly as we become a more data-led organisation

    Health and Safety


    Why – so all staff are aware of their responsibilities for the safety of themselves and others

    Fire Safety


    Why – so all staff know the fire precautions and emergency arrangements in the workplace and what they can do to prevent fires happening and spreading

    Fraud, Bribery and Corruption

    Why – to protect public assets by raising awareness of the need to be vigilant against fraud, bribery and corruption

    Child Protection/ Adult Protection/ Corporate Parenting

    Why – so staff understand that we all have a responsibility to protect children and vulnerable adults from risk of harm and a duty to report any concerns to the appropriate authority; and to raise awareness of our responsibility for children who have been brought up in council care

    Equality and Diversity


    Why – so that we meet our duties under the Equality Act 2010 to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation, to advance equal opportunity and to be inclusive


    Why – so all staff understand our approach to customer service including our We Care Charter and Commitments

    All managers

    HR policy awareness  

    Why – so that staff are recruited and managed effectively and sensitively with judgement and discretion

    Mentally Healthy Workplaces

    Why – so that staff are managed in a way that reduces risk to mental health and are given the necessary support where required   

    What does it mean for me?

    All of us have a responsibility to follow the policies and procedures that apply to our roles and to carry out the training as listed above whether online or in the format agreed with our manager.

    The council also has specific ways of doing things, for example project management methodology, scheme of governance including financial and procurement regulations, which we should make sure you are familiar with if these form part of our role. 

    Useful for further development: 

    This supports the organisational capability:

    • Ensuring accountability, transparency and openness

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