Saturday, 10 September 2011

Barnet Council Leadership special : A message to Nick Walkley, Andrew Travers and Richard Cornelius - DFLOTO Weekly Broadcast

Having seen the absolute chaos into which Barnet Council is descending and the appalling judgement displayed in spending taxpayers money on billboards to advertise a message from the Barnet CEO Nick Walkley, I feel it is my civic duty to say a few words on leadership to the people running Barnet Council.

First, let me explain in what capacity and who I am representing when I write this. I am writing this as the "De facto Leader of the Opposition in Barnet (DFLOTO)". This is not a title I intend adopting - except to issue a weekly proclamation on this blog (a la Nick Walkley'Andrew Travers), I am purely using it for the purposes of this message. Why? well last night I ended up having a discussion over a glass or two of Guinness with a good friend, who is intelligent, successful and insightful. We were discussing the chaos at Barnet Council and he said "Rog, you have a duty as the de facto Leader of the opposition to spell out to them exactly why they are failing as leaders". I retorted "I'm not the de facto leader of anything". He responded that it is clearly the case that I am. He went through the other possible candidates :-

Alison Moore - Labour Leader - "Too timid, too low profile and unprepared to get her hands dirty"
John Burgess - Leader of Unison -  "Represents a vested interest, we need someone non aligned"
The Other Barnet bloggers -  "Not been around as long, not as prolific or not as combative"

He then pointed out that for most people who care about Barnet Council and Barnet politics, this blog is the first port of call. Many people then check the sidebar to see what the other blogs have to say. Most of the Councillors read it and it gets 30,000 hits a month. He finished off by saying "Rog, if you hadn't started blogging, the Barnet political landscape would be completely different. None of the other bloggers can say that. He finally said "How many hits a day do you get from Barnet Council? - someone there is listening to what you say".

So in my new found role, conferred over a pint of Guinness by a committee of one, here is the first of my
De Facto Leader of the Opposition in Barnet Broadcast.

Dear friends (esp Nick Walkley, Andrew Travers and Richard Cornelius),

After a tumultuous week at North London Business Park, I call on you to spend five minutes contemplating leadership and what makes a good leader. What separates the careers of men such as Alexander the Great from the Grand Old Duke of York?

A successful Leader has the complete confidence of those they lead. Whilst on many occasions those people may question judgements, they have the confidence in the leadership to know that any questions raised will be dealt with in a fair and reasonable manner and concerns, if genuine will be taken on board. A good leader doesn't have to shout to get their message across. A quiet word will usually do the trick. A good leader is magnamous in victory and dignified in defeat. A good leader knows when to retreat as well as when to advance. A good leader knows when a plan isn't working and will change or completely discard such a plan as soon as the signs of failure are apparent. A good leader respects his adversaries and recognises that they may be as competent or even better leaders than themselves. As such they ensure that they understand their adversaries plans and strategies and if these are superior to their own, they take appropriate action.

A good leader appoints the best people to do the jobs that they can find. Special favour is not shown to cronies and friends. The people working for the leader understand that success will be rewarded and failure must be explained. A good leader empowers those under them to make decisions and give feedback. They ensure that everyone in the organisation pulls in the same direction and cares about the success of the organisation as much as they do.

When disputes occur within the organisation, they show respect and fairness to all parties. They recognise that both parties may be correct in their views, but only one may prevail. In this case it is vital to ensure that the other party fully understands why the decision has been made. It is important to ensure that the loser in the debate is made to feel valued and their efforts recognised.

Finally, leaders sometimes have to make difficult decisions. Trusted colleagues may have to be let go, sometimes through no fault of their own, sometimes because of catastrophic failures on their part. In both cases, it is vital to communicate the "right message" to the rest of the organisation. If a colleague has worked hard for the organisation, but through situation and circumstance can no longer remain part of the organisation, they should be duly rewarded for their hard work, compensated accordingly and leave with the thanks of the organisation. If a colleague has acted dishonestly or through lazyness and incompetence has caused a catastrophic failure, they are entitled to no more than the legal minimum which their contract stipualtes. Any contract which financially insulates staff from the effects of such actions is a failure on the part of the organisation. If the people who look to you for leadership feel that they will not be treated with fairness and respect, the organisation will fail.

A good leader knows what is happening in all parts of the organisation. A good leader will turn up unexpectedly to "rally the troops". A good leader will take a hands on approach to tackling failure and will ensure that they understand the reasons for such failure. A good leader will understand what every individual in their organisation is doing and why that person is vital to the success of the organisation. A good leader will delegate decision making, but not responsibility, and will encourage those who work for them to do the same.

Finally a good leader must be prepared to address the concerns of anyone in the organisation, when all of the usual channels of communication have failed. They must be prepared to meet anyone at any reasonable time if a crisis is looming, to avert that crises. They must accept that compromise is a sign of strength, not weakness if it is in the greater interests of the organisation.

Richard, Nick and Andrew. Please tell me this. In light of what has been happening recently at Barnet Council, do you recognise your Leadership values in the description above? Do you feel you have displayed sound judgement and fairness? Do you take responsibility? Have you treated people with fairness? Have you been prepared to meet with the Unions and discuss the issues at any time and at any place?

I'm sorry to say that if you have not done these things, then you really have not shown the Leadership qualities, which the people of Barnet should rightly expect from you.

Yours Sincerly

Roger Tichborne

De Facto Leader of the Opposition in Barnet (for the purposes of this proclaimation)
************* Update 10.51 ******************
I emailed the text of the proclaimation to the Holy Trinity (Ricky, Nicky & Thicky) and got this back from Nicky (Barnet Council CEO) in the week leading up to an industrial dispute.  Need I say anything else on the subject :-

I am now on leave until Monday 12th September.

Andrew Travers (Deputy CE) is deputising for me. For any urgent items please contact the Executive Office on 0208 359 7001.

Nick Walkley
Chief Executiv

1 comment:

Mr Mustard said...

I have been sitting here for some weeks Roger trying to work our what Nick's leadership style is and I haven't. It is not easy to manage 3,000 people but it can be done. One needs to be clear and all you see from the Chief Executive & the Deputy ( not the Assistant who has written very clearly to me but we need longer to see how good she is ) is obfuscation.

The technique that Tom Peters promoted ( although I think he found it at HP ) was MBWA - Management by wandering around - you cannot sit in your office or a meeting room holding Meet the Chief sessions. Mr Mustard used to work for a subsidiary of a large corporation. Monthly board meetings were held locally half the time and before the meeting the Chief Executive of the Group would walk around the local site and ask questions & meet people. That is good management. Every Saturday he did unannounced visits to sites.

Nick Walkley needs to un-stick himself from his chair and go and meet his staff & visit the lowest paid first and listen to what they have to say - reports back to Mr Mustard from various staff are that Nick Walkley needs to improve his listening skills and not just take the part of what they say that supports his ideals.