A quick scan of the news stories on the publicservice.co.uk website today makes quite stark reading. First, one Chief Constable is sacked following an IPCC investigation which has upheld the allegation that the chief lied to the inquiry and bullied staff; second, another Chief Constable is to retire allegedly against a background of the latest damning Hillsborough report; the Met’s acting Commissioner is grilled over the woeful investigation of the phone tapping and a fourth, calls for a national police force.
It is not just the police as public leaders who are subject to increased scrutiny. The Francis inquiry continues in relation to mid Staffordshire Hospital Foundation Trust and the difficulties encountered in leadership during the recent Rochdale report casts a further shadow over public leadership between a number of statutory agencies.
If ever we need collective leadership, that time is now. For too long, the emphasis has been on senior leaders at the top of the hierarchy who direct activity and provide the answers down the organisation. The role of collective leadership is to ask the intelligent questions and allow those with the experience and knowledge to provide the answers. The most important element is to accept constructive criticism and not promote destructive consent. It applies at all levels of public service. Those who are the guardians of our government should not look down upon those who deliver as mere ‘plebs’. It is the collective public leadership that will eradicate the excesses of either individual or organisational ego’s.