With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Elizabeth Jenkins-Smalley

Elizabeth Jenkins-Smalley

Editor In Chief at The Executive Magazine

Wendy Merry, People & Organisation Development Director at Civica explores what’s needed to be a truly modern leader.


It’s fair to say that in today’s evolving landscape, leading isn’t an easy task. However, strong leadership is the backbone of solid governance and is increasingly important for organisations to navigate their way through the most turbulent period in recent history.

Hannah Oakman, Communications Manager, Civica

Civica recently hosted a Leadership Forum, attended by more than 40 public sector representatives from across the UK, which found that modern leadership calls for far more than an impressive job title or years of experience. It’s an attitude and one which enables you to master truly transformational leadership. The Forum agreed that when it comes to identifying inspirational leaders, the action heroes that succeed are authentic, visible, engaging, brave, ambitious and passionate, to name a few.

They all agreed that self-awareness and a flexible approach are essential in establishing and maintaining authority. Critical to this is knowing how to measure personal success, treating people with respect and acting on what’s within your control – but also having a plan for factors outside of this as well.

However, leaders must remember, that they can’t lead without a team – be that one you’ve created or one you’ve inherited. To build a high performing top team there needs to be a clear vision, strong relationships and tailored leadership to bring out the best in each person.

That being said, achieving the ‘impossible tasks’ takes more than a top leadership team. Leaders are essential at all levels and in all functions. These are people that understand the mission, who feel that they are part of the solution and who are willing to take action.

The way to achieve this is through clear and continuous communication. Individuals need to see how the vision relates to them and feel as if they’re contributing to something. Effective engagement that will instil confidence in your vision comes from making it personal, open and with a clear call to action. People won’t believe the vision until they see the action it drives.

It’s clear that today’s leaders must be more competent, ‘awake’ and action-led than ever; embodying all the values and changes they wish to see in their wider team and ecosystem. Without a strong following, they won’t be able to fight through the tough times, and in today’s environment standing still is not an option. To some, it may seem like an impossible task, but being a leader doesn’t mean working alone. With trusted advisors from inside and outside of an organisation and a
collaborative approach with the entire workforce, transformation is possible, and for some, it’s already in sight.


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