To lead in local government you have to dance on ice

Rise Above’s podcast series Leading Conversations is now streaming episode number 7.

Stella Manzie photo

Dame Stella Manzie has been a leader in local government for over thirty years. When she was appointed borough director for Redditch Borough Council aged 31 she was the youngest council chief executive in the country. Over the following decades she ran five other authorities including Coventry City Council, where she worked with elected councillors and colleagues to transform it from being one of the worst-performing local authorities to one of the best. Today Stella is chair of University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust.

Stella unravels the complexities of being a CEO in local government and explains why the nuanced leadership quality of political astuteness is needed to enable the leader to ‘dance on ice’ with key organisational partners. More controversially, she argues that the current conversation about organisational leadership over-celebrates vision and innovation and under-values what she calls the ‘scaffolding’ of an organisation: consistent management and under-pinning systems. The balance, Stella says, needs redressing.

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