Have you noticed how your local Council is becoming more customer (rate payer) focused?

Over the last 20 years as a Board, CEO and Senior Executive of large scale, complex organisations, I have witnessed the cultural transformation to high performance and accountability for results flow throughout private organisations. It now appears this cultural revolution is fast flowing through the local government sector.

My local council has been sending me a Business Plan and Transparent Spend Allocation for the last 5 years, however, only recently have I seen more prominent external evidence of this constructive cultural trend.

It first started with a notable lift in the calibre of CEO being recruited in to lead local councils. Earlier in 2020, as an example, I attended a Human Synergistics Workshop. A group of 3 senior leaders from a local Council also attended – 2 People & Culture leaders and 1 Operational leader. Their purpose for attending – a newly appointed CEO had communicated a vision for this council for a “Journey to Exceptional”. The CEO had identified the Human Synergistics suite of Self Development tools to be the foundation for driving cultural change – I did not expect this language and commitment from a council CEO!

Fast forward to July, my local council, once again communicated their Business Plan but this time was different. The plan, like previous, included a clearly articulated vision for the council, but this time it was written in a language of commitment and conviction – balancing, delivering, high quality and prosperity.

The vision aligned to 5 focus areas – 2 of which highlighted “Economy” and “Culture”. The words support and growth of economy emerged along with a focus on simplicity and efficiency. Then aspirational cultural themes highlighting customer centricity, accountability and high performing teams were committed to with a strong focus on how we interact and operate within the community.

Had something happened? As a ratepayer, was I now considered a shareholder in the performance of my local council?

As our new normal emerges from the world of uncertainty we have been experiencing in 2020, never before have local government been so critical in leading their communities from recovery to prosperity. While new council CEOs may have great aspirations, their senior leaders, teams and cultures of the council organisations will need to evolve and grow along this revolutionary path to deliver on commitments, results and shareholder value.

Being inclusive with all stakeholders and the community while demonstrating and delivering value are all important areas of focus in leading communities. It will also require leadership in driving economic stimulus through projects that create a community led recovery that ensures everyone is taken along for the journey.

The BRS team have long been a significant and engaged provider to the Local Government sector. BRS is supportive of the change that is occurring and is a leading provider of Leadership Development support for this cultural shift. For those Councils that are looking to drive this cultural and commercial approach amongst their leaders and organisations, Council’s need to consider the following:

  • Align your strategic outcomes to the culture you are wishing to create in your organisation;
  • Ensure all staff understand the priorities and what’s important to our communities and customers;
  • Have a clear understanding of what value for money means for your community and organisation and factor this in to all your decision making;
  • Train your staff in the key areas of leadership, commercial acumen and customer service; and
  • Ensure the decision making in your Council aligns to the key mantra of “if this was your business, would you….. spend, recruit, focus on this item”.  It is a great way to really embed a truly value driven mindset in all staff.

BRS are able to assist through our team of senior leaders who bring extensive commercial experience and knowledge of private enterprise coupled with knowledge of the requirements of local government. Local government will be a critical path to our economic recovery and prosperity and the BRS team is geared up to help councils deliver on this.