I’m here reporting on our much-anticipated day in Whitehall – a highlight of the Future Leaders programme.
While my fellow Future Leaders and I didn’t get our picture taken outside Downing Street – I was looking forward to updating my LinkedIn profile with one of these; might fake it with Photoshop – we did get our picture taken with Simon Baugh, Chief Executive of the Government Communications Service (GCS), outside Admiralty House.
Simon didn’t simply join us for the photo-op, but kicked off a morning spent with members of the GCS by giving us an overview of the work they do.
What came through was their ability to operate in a volatile political environment while strategically communicating policy changes at a national scale and driving improvements within the Service itself.
We then gained insights from the team working on the Help for Households campaign, the Cabinet Office’s Press Office and the Behavioural Science team.
Our whistle-stop tour of the GCS came to a close with a thoughtful discussion about leadership led by Michael Hoare, Director of National Security Communication at the Cabinet Office.
More often than not, being a communications leader – within national or local government – requires the ability to be adaptable and resilient, and manage expectations while motivating and guiding a team in a fast-paced and demanding environment. Michael spoke candidly about the challenges that come with this and the need to lead with honesty and transparency.
The discussion made me reflect on the different styles of leadership we studied earlier this year under Prof. Paul Willis, and the kind of leader I want to be when I grow up – someone who is values-driven and rooted in authenticity.
In the afternoon, we made our return to the LGA offices in Smith Square where we’d first started the course back in March – how time flies! – to meet with members of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and discuss their engagement with local government organisations.
We then workshopped the LGA’s latest campaign, #SaveLocalServices, which highlights the urgent need for financial sustainability and certainty for councils ahead of the mini budget later this month.
I had to catch an early train back up North, so missed the end-of-day trip down the pub, but I left London my head buzzing with ideas about how I could use the insights gained during the day in my new role as a charity communicator, and grateful to have spent the day with my fellow Future Leaders – an amazingly talented and supportive bunch.
Melissa Tricoire is a Senior Communications and Engagement Specialist at Citizens Advice (previously Communications Business Partner at Kirklees Council) and part of the 2022 Future Leaders cohort.