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Leaders Like You

Individual development programmes

Our research has highlighted the following initiatives that have been taken and are thought to make a difference.

Comprehensive leadership and development programmes possibly targeted at specific underrepresented groups or structured to take account of the barriers faced by different groups.

Succession planning: Identifying potential future leaders and developing them in order to ensure a smooth transition from one leader to another. This could be achieved through ‘frequently updating lists of high potentials based on project-based performance, and basing succession decisions on a diverse pool of candidates’. However, a note of caution: relying on the present executives to select successors can limit opportunities to enhance senior management diversity unless they compensate for potential unconscious bias and target underrepresented groups.

Individual career development action plans

Mentoring and coaching. Several of our case studies pointed to how mentoring had helped them.

Talent management and internal recruitment.

This includes ensuring that staff from underrepresented groups are given opportunities for new work experiences and to develop their skills on challenging tasks.

Talks and coaching by role models and people from underrepresented groups who have ‘made it’. These were appreciated by some participants in focus groups:

"Hearing stories of others that have overcome similar barriers and have come from relatable circumstances have always inspired me to continue with my development and strive for the outcome that I want. Even if it has not been realised yet, I have achieved small steps towards my ultimate goal that I may have given up on long time ago – however, due to these idols I now know that perseverance is key.

I love hearing from people of colour in senior positions – this helps to feel like maybe I can."

Examples of leadership programmes in local authorities
  • Shropshire Council has a Future Leadership Programme, where personality type tools
    are used to help people better understand and respect diversity. In addition, Shropshire Council implements Gender Pay Gap regulations and has joined the national Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network.

  • Birmingham City Council is implementing the ‘Senior Leadership Programme’ and the ‘Springboard’ programme, which both focus on increasing the diversity profile of their leadership. Springboard focuses on helping and encouraging female staff to obtain senior positions.

  • Coventry City Council is running a senior leadership programme which will include
    a bespoke piece of work on diversifying
    the senior leadership team. The other project ‘Recruiting for a 21st Century Public Service’ is about using the University of Birmingham research into the 21st century public servant as a base line for the diversification of senior leadership team.