Update: Please note that the CLFS work is currently under review and the team will currently not be offering its full range of development offers. You can read the full November team update here.

Illuminating Leadership

Exploring the Light & Shade of Collective Leadership

About Illuminating Leadership Festival

The first Illuminating Leadership Festival took place from 28 February to 3 March 2022, shedding light on the benefits and opportunities, as well as challenges of collective, systems- and place-based leadership. The Festival was a series of 43 events held over four days, with an estimated reach of over 2,000 event participants, of which around 70% were based in Scotland. 

Over half the events were entirely self-hosted by external partners, as well as a small number co-hosted by the Scottish Government and other key public service agencies. These included Public Health Scotland, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, the Scottish Social Services Council, Police Scotland, Education Scotland, Audit Scotland, the Local Government Improvement Service, local authorities and the third sector.

“What stood out was the potential for such rich connections between people across Scotland and beyond – it’s not about ‘experts’ but about all of us, inspiring each other.” (Illuminating Leadership Festival)

Background & Aims

It’s been ten years since the Christie Commission reported and called for more effective collaboration and leadership across public services in Scotland in order to improve outcomes for people. How have we progressed since then? 

Stephen Boyle, Auditor General for Scotland, recently shared his thoughts on this and remarks that Christie’s aspiration to put people at the heart of public services is as relevant today as it was ten years ago.  He reflects too on some of the reasons why we haven’t yet achieved Christie’s aspirations and suggests that we’re not using our collective leadership capability effectively:

“I am not convinced that public sector leaders really feel accountable for delivering change that demands different organisations work together….it’s clear that too many of them still don’t feel truly empowered or sufficiently emboldened to make the changes they think are needed to deliver Christie. Our collective appetite for risk-taking and innovation, and how we hold public sector leaders to account, also need to shift.  If every ‘failure’ results in hostile media and political scrutiny, we will never encourage creativity, entrepreneurial thinking and risk-taking in how we deliver public services…..we have to give our leaders the space, time and incentives to take managed risks.” 

– Stephen Boyle, September 2021

We will use this festival to shine a light on these issues, learn together and explore opportunities for system change. We will use these questions to start our conversation:

  • There has been an emergence of a different type of leadership evidenced during the time of the pandemic – what have we learned from this and what does this mean for the leadership of the future?

  • Place-based approaches have grown in importance and relevance to systems change. What are the examples that illustrate working collectively with families, communities and public services and how can we use these to encourage collective leadership in other parts of the system? 
  • How do our structures and cultures support or hinder the use of our collective leadership capability?  What can we do to develop more empowering structures and cultures?

  • What does this mean for leadership development?   How can we learn and develop leadership in this context of place-based and cross-sectoral work?  Where is the light and shade in collective leadership and its development?

  •  What are the global examples that provide a different perspective and connect learning, insight and creativity?

The Organising Team

The festival has been co-designed and produced with partners from across public services including: Collective Leadership for Scotland, Police Scotland, Public Health Scotland, Health Care Improvement Scotland, Education Scotland, Improvement Service, the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), 3rd Sector and the Scottish Government. If you would like to get in touch with the team, please contact: collectiveleadership@gov.scot.

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Questions or Comments?collectiveleadership@gov.scot