Leading GM…the next phase


I have been overwhelmed by the response to my last blog, “My First Eight Months…Reflections from Leading GM”. People have contacted me from far and wide to share how my thoughts have resonated with their own work and lives. I’ve made new connections and pleased to say that 5 months on my blog is still relevant and doing its rounds!  I value that people have taken the time to read it and share their thoughts with me…it’s testimony to the unique approach we’re taking in Greater Manchester to fulfil our vision of being one of the best places to live, work and grow old in the world.

For GM by GM

Our Leading GM programme, much like Greater Manchester, is going through an exciting time of transformation. As the region continues to change, so do the challenges we face, therefore so must our ways of working. This is why Leading GM was created, to build a diverse community of leaders and to help equip Greater Manchester with the skills to lead the transformation of our region. It’s a programme which is “For the people of GM, designed by the people of GM”.

Since October 2016 and through our first two successful programmes, we have worked with 200 leaders from across the 10 localities in Greater Manchester. We have delivered a range of bespoke workshops and events designed to develop a strong community of capable and resilient leaders, who can engage with local people to improve the health and wellbeing of their communities. Alongside this we have run additional activities for another 500+ participants.

Significant changes

Ahead of our next cohort, we have adapted the Leading GM programme in several ways, learning from what has gone before and building on our successes. This is all in service of designing a true place-based leadership development programme. Fundamentally it’s essential we model the change which we’re looking to bring about and this means taking a place-based approach in how we work with our leaders.

People and Place

The biggest change since cohort two has been the co-design of a revised delivery model for the Leading GM programme. Place-based working will be the golden thread that runs throughout the next cohort. As we know, considerable leadership development takes place within organisations and professions, we want to focus on what these have in common; People and Place.

We have also learnt that any new approaches should be co-designed and tested by participants. Throughout our re-design we have tried out new concepts with our two Place Based Challenge test sites in Oldham and Bolton, ensuring that future programmes are the best they can possibly be.

In 2018/19 we will run one 12-month Leading GM place-based leadership development programme for around 200 participants and support the development of many other leaders in each locality through their involvement with the Place Based Challenges.

Leading GM Expectations

We are also currently reviewing our nine expectations, which were developed at the beginning of our programme in 2016 and have formed the cornerstone of the Leading GM offer, along with my own journey in this role. We are currently speaking to a diverse range of citizens and leaders to ask what their opinions are about the existing expectations. There are some key principles emerging that will build on the current expectations and help ensure that the programme is relevant moving forward, which we will share shortly.


Through discussions with a wide range of people, we have made the decision to identify locality co-ordinators as the people who will co-ordinate the nominations for the next Leading GM programme. Their role will include identifying a Place Based Challenge with the relevant Locality Public Sector Reform Board (in line with local priorities) and make programme nominations which are linked to that challenge, working closely with service, workforce and OD leads within the locality.

Insights and Principles for Success

Over recent months I’ve come to realise that the following principles are key to the continued success of the Leading GM offer and in my role: 

  • Encourage a change of heart…real change happens when there is a change of heart in the individual and in enough people to generate a greater movement, a shift in values, the willingness to cooperate and to work for something important for the mutual benefit of everyone. Change must be bottom up and not top down.
  • Create a sense of community…where members can feel secure, nurtured and have a shared sense of value. In strong communities there is always someone doing something amazing, which inspires others to do and achieve more. We are social animals and being part of a community is sociable and fun!
  • Share why you do what you do…understand how your higher purpose and values links to your role as a leader. Share your personal narrative with others and discover shared purpose. Share your intent with others as sometimes our actions can be misinterpreted.
  • Get to the heart of the matter…don’t just treat the symptoms but find the root cause of issues and problems before making any decisions and work with it.
  • Think differently and challenge the status quo…once you identify what you want to challenge and shift, be willing to be part of the challenge and share why. Be brave and persistent.
  • Embrace diversity…consciously embrace the diversity of our people and appreciate the richness of difference that exists across our region. Truly recognise and work with the strengths of others.

I encourage you to think about these areas in your own life and work and when supporting transformation across our region to make a real difference to people and places. I’m wholeheartedly embracing the next phase of the Leading GM journey and continue to be passionate about supporting leaders to be the best they can be to support positive change across our region.

Rita Evans

Leading GM Programme Director

Leading for Innovation and Creativity Workshop

A Leading GM Workshop

Truly inspirational and a great kick up backside for those of us who too often seem to coast along in our comfort zones! Excellent techniques identified on how to engage with front line staff and get them thinking outside of “the box” – Leading for Innovation and Creativity Workshop delegate

On 22 September Rene Barrett facilitated a new Leading GM Workshop on Leading for Innovation and Creativity. Held at The Studio Manchester, Rene guided 20 GM leaders through a range of theories and techniques designed to inspire innovation and creativity in their work and organisations, thereby fostering an environment in which both innovation and creativity can flourish. This workshop not only explored theories, but also provided our GM leaders with the opportunity to test creative thinking techniques on real issues in GM. Through this activity, some really innovative ideas on how to respond to these challenges were identified.

See some moments from the Leading for Innovation and Creativity Workshop:



Click here to access the Leading for Innovation and Creativity Workshop slides.

Keep an eye on the Leading GM website for news on future Leading GM Workshops, as well as on the @LeadingGM twitter account. If you are interested in attending another session of the Leading for Innovation and Creativity Workshop, or if you’d like to see Leading GM Workshops on any other topics, let us know by clicking here. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the Leading GM Leadership Programme Open House on 17 October!


Announcing Leading with Presence and Impact Workshops

Three New Leading GM Workshops Announced – Leading with Presence and Impact Series

We are delighted to announce the launch of three new workshops, the Leading with Presence and Impact Workshop series, as part of our overall development offer to our growing Leading GM community. These exciting workshops have been specifically designed by our delivery partners to help you to:

  • Think differently about yourself and the impact you have on others; and
  • Consider how you may need to transform as a leader in order to lead others through the transformational change taking place within your organisation, locality and across Greater Manchester.

These three workshops have been designed to progressively build up the skills needed to ‘lead with presence and impact’. Attending the workshops will provide you with the opportunity to consider and work on your ‘being’ as well as your ‘doing’, which is vital in helping ourselves and others to bring about transformational change – as having different thinking and mind-sets brings different outcomes.

Workshop 1 – SELF: Secure Your Own Oxygen Mask First – 28 November 2017

Workshop 2 – OTHER: Disappearing Elephants – 31 January 2018

Workshop 3 – ACTION: So What? Now What? – 27 February 2018

It is possible to attend two out of the three workshops, but we would strongly recommend that you book on, and attend, all three for maximum benefit. For more information, please CLICK HERE. To book your place on the Leading with Presence and Impact Workshops, please CLICK HERE.

Leading GM Workshop: Street Wisdom

As part of the Leading GM activities for 2017 / 18, we are delighted to announce four Street Wisdom sessions, facilitated by Gary Loftus.

Street Wisdom is a global social enterprise with a mission to bring inspiration to every street on earth. It’s a technology that allows anyone, anywhere to get unusual inspiration from their everyday surroundings. Led by volunteer facilitators on city streets across the world, free Street Wisdom workshops give participants the skills to access the ‘invisible university’ that’s all around them and find fresh answers to personal or work-related questions – with profound results. Street Wisdom is also a growing social enterprise and home to a community of Street Wizards who use this powerful tool in their professional lives.

We will be holding the Street Wisdom sessions on the four following dates: Tuesday 12 September (Trafford), Thursday 14 September (Salford), Thursday 21 September (Bury) and Thursday 28 September (Tameside). 

For more information, and to book your place, please click here.

The Beyond Budgeting principles

 “The purpose of the principles is to inspire and guide organisations as they strive to implement Beyond Budgeting; we refer to this as being on a Beyond Budgeting journey.”


We are delighted that one of our Leadership Programme delegates, Shaer Halewood, has shared this article and noted its relevance to the Leading GM programme.


To find out more about Beyond Budgeting principles and how best to apply them to your leadership, click on the link below.

The Beyond Budgeting principles

My First Eight Months…Reflections from Leading GM

My First Eight Months…Reflections from Leading GM

I was delighted when I was appointed to the Leading Greater Manchester (GM) Programme Director role. Since my appointment in January 2017, I have been continually struck by the enthusiasm, excitement, passion and commitment for the Leading GM offer from colleagues across Greater Manchester and beyond. There is a real belief in our common purpose, emergent approach and ‘learning as we go’ ethos. I have come to really enjoy working in an emergent and often ‘messy’ way. For me, it is much more fulfilling and brings better results for our people and communities, rather than always having our ducks lined up and taking a “top down” approach. Although I have to admit that it is still nice to sometimes have a few ducks lined up, particularly when planning events!

In 2016, 100 leaders from across each of the public services and voluntary sector were invited to join us in our quest to mobilise a community of leaders from across all sectors to help achieve the Stronger Together ambition to improve the lives of local people. It’s not just about leading people, it’s about leading projects and ideas based on the needs of our people and communities. Anyone can be a leader.

As well as helping individuals with their personal development, the Leading GM programme has helped us build a fantastic network of knowledgeable people who are passionate about improving the lives of Greater Manchester communities, and are determined to make our region one of the best places in the world to live, work and learn. Our second programme is now in full swing with a third cohort to follow in autumn 2017.

Bespoke Leading GM – Tailored to the Needs of People and Place

Building on our success, we are now supporting Greater Manchester Moving to put together a series of bespoke Leading GM events tailored to their specific needs. Where appropriate, we are also working with other colleagues across Greater Manchester to take a similar approach within their locality, sector, or functional work team.

Leadership Skills – with a Difference!

Our programmes are not traditional leadership training courses. They are bespoke, tailored programmes of activity that help individuals and teams to make a real difference in their area of work.

Our Leading Greater Manchester programme adopts a place-based approach. Put simply, this means that we support people and teams to make a difference in their “place” – whether that place is a geographical location or a specific field of work.

Leading GM Next Phase

We will shortly be inviting nominations for the next Leading GM programme. Participants will be expected to work collaboratively with a range of colleagues within their locality on a place based challenge which will demonstrate a clear and tangible difference for the citizens within that place. The place based challenges will be the main focus of the programme with a range of development activities wrapped around to support this.

The programme will take an asset based approach to personal and place based development by focusing on the strengths and assets the team brings to the challenge, as well as the strengths and assets of that place. Nominations will be actively encouraged from anyone who could make a tangible impact on the place based challenge. Encouraging diversity and enabling greater levels of inclusion will continue to be key considerations for any nominations.

Insights and Principles for Success

I find myself having many great conversations and working as a social leader, along with continuing to occupy the more traditional space when appropriate to do so. In all of these conversations, I have also found myself using many of the same phrases to reinforce what we are learning to be the key principles to the success of Leading GM….enabling it to become a true place based offer and for us to be true place based leaders:

  •  Model the change we want to see…so others start to pick up the subconscious cues and behave in a similar way.
  • Meet people where they are…understand what it takes to transform places.
  • Take a true place based approach…to help enable others to ‘Lead from Place’.
  • Truly recognise and value the strengths of others…don’t judge, be generous, show forgiveness and value differences.
  •  Recognise that our people are our best assets…we don’t need to look for others to tell us the answers.
  •  Ask “Who isn’t around the table and part of this conversation who needs to be?”
  •  Help leaders to work on their “being” as well as their “doing”…different thinking and a mind-set shift brings different outcomes.
  • Start somewhere and follow it everywhere (ref: Myron Rogers).
  • Build trust…a genuine interest in people, places and communities needs to come before our own self-interest.
  • Develop as social leaders…stepping into the traditional leadership space as appropriate and encouraging mutual respect.

I have been on an exciting and fulfilling journey in my first eight months, I am wholeheartedly embracing the next phase to support leaders and communities to be the best they can be. For me, there is no better place to live, work and learn than in Greater Manchester.

Rita Evans
Leading GM Programme Director
August 2017

What Does Place-Based Leadership Mean to Me?

What Does Place-Based Leadership Mean to Me?

Having lived in Manchester all my life, I love the character and diversity of the city. The city is made up of lots of different ‘places’. It has historically been at the forefront of new ideas, seen a lot of change and responded; demonstrating the city’s capacity to try new things.

Working for Manchester City Council, for the last 28 years in a number of roles across the organisation, has provided me with significant insight into what is important to residents, including children, young people and our staff and partners. Given this experience, I recognise the cyclical nature of public services whilst acknowledging that there is a right time and a right place for everything. Although, in Manchester there are times when we have led the way and done things ahead of our time!

I think there are a number of qualities that are important for successful place-based leadership. The emphasis is about understanding a place and what will ultimately benefit residents based on what matters to them, rather than being service driven. To fully understand a place we need to allow the time for staff to genuinely engage and listen to residents and the local members who represent the local areas. The ‘Our Manchester’ strategy designed in true partnership with residents and provides an excellent opportunity in Manchester to do just that.

A place-based approach recognises that one size doesn’t fit all and that services need to be flexible and responsive to the bespoke needs of different places. As a leader, you need the flexibility to dip in at a number of levels, from influencing and shaping the front line using an on-the-ground perspective of an area, to its relationship with the city-wide, bigger picture of how the whole place operates.

Leaders are not the sole custodians of good ideas. Your role is to cultivate and enable ideas from generations across the organisation and allow the testing of innovative approaches.

On reflection, if I could give myself one piece of advice early in my career, it would be not to restrict ideas by thinking too rigidly about the future. Things don’t necessarily turn out as you imagine – they change and develop and if you constrain your thinking to what you know, you reduce your ability to innovate and respond to change. Places change quickly and we have to be able to adapt to this. Some things that we are working on now, we would not have thought possible 5 years ago!

Fiona Worrall
Director of Neighbourhood Services
Manchester City Council 

There’s No Place Like Home

We thrilled to introduce the first in a series of blogs providing personal perspectives on what place-based leadership means. Leading from place is often talked about within  Leading GM as a shared goal to transform our places and communities from within. Engagement & Organisational Development Manager for Bolton at Home, Paula Whylie, shares her thoughts on what it means to lead from place.

There’s no place like home

I often get asked by colleagues “what is this #LeadingGM thing all about?” They are interested in why it’s seen as a different type of leadership programme and why it’s something Bolton at Home are keen to get involved in. I usually start by sharing the programme’s ambitions around leadership expectations.


Numbers 2 and 3 are sometimes followed by a quizzical look. This doesn’t surprise me, as it’s not language we use on a regular basis, it feels and sounds unfamiliar to most people. I’ve given some thought as to what ‘place’ means to me and considered if it fits with what we are trying to achieve within GM. I also invite you to share your thoughts.

The first thing that pops into my mind is ‘there’s no place like home’ which leads me to ‘home is where the heart is’. Think about when you are away from home. Even when it’s through choice, let’s say on holiday or working away, there usually comes a point when you start to yearn for familiar sights, sounds and smells around you and you may feel as though something is pulling you back. It could be friends, loved ones, or even in the case of my kids, Warburton’s bread. The fact that we don’t live in a house made of bread (ginger or otherwise), I suppose illustrates my thoughts around home being about place and belonging.

So what does leading from place mean?

Well for me, it’s still all about the heart. By this I mean it’s getting to the heart of how we can work with our communities to really understand what matters most, and what enables, or disables our communities to thrive. If you’ve ever watched ‘Marooned’ with Ed Stafford (adventurist and survivalist), you’ll know that his mission is to see if he is able to survive, or thrive in inhospitable and extreme environments. Worryingly, this concept is the mirrored reality within some of our GM communities. Only for some is it a much grimmer picture and we have to add another dimension to that: take a step back and acknowledge that for some, just surviving sounds like utopia.

Leading from place means thinking and working outside in, rather than the previously well intentioned inside out, which saw multiple organisations and sectors working within GM, sitting in numerous strategy meetings to solve the same problems in a much less connected way. Working outside in, supports the leading from place expectation. It supports cross sector working by focusing first on community needs and then using their combined experience, knowledge and resources to make smarter decisions which engage and empower people living in our communities. In this context, the place is seen as belonging to the people living there.

There’s no place like home.

Paula Whylie

Engagement & Organisational Development Manager
Business Unit
Bolton at Home


Two new dates: Leading from Place Workshops

** Due to popular demand, we are pleased to announce two new dates for this workshop – 6 September and 24 October **

Building on the success of recent Leading GM masterclasses, we are delighted to announce that our next gathering is the Leading From Place Workshop.

This one-day workshop, facilitated by Vanguard, is for any leader in GM who wants to understand what it takes to transform places and lead within, and on behalf of their organisations, systems and places. It is designed for those who want to develop their skills as a place-based and systems leader.

This Leading From Place Workshop complements the Leading GM Leadership Programme and other place-based work/integration already underway. It will be a lively and thought-provoking gathering where specialists within this field will introduce key place and systems leadership concepts through real examples, case studies and activities; building on the knowledge and experience of those taking part.

We are running the workshop on seven dates: 27 June, 18 July, 27 July, 9 and 23 August, 6 September, and 24 October, and anyone who is a leader in GM is welcome to attend.

To book your place, CLICK HERE for 6 September and CLICK HERE for 24 October.

More information on the workshop is available below:

Leading from Place Workshop 18 July

The second Leading from Place workshop took place on 18 July, with another group of GM colleagues coming together and exploring Place Based Leadership. This was another successful workshop, with the next three dates all sold out. Delegates have said of the two workshops held so far:

The Leading GM Workshop on 18th July was a positive and enlightening experience that enabled participants to look at problem solving in an altogether different way. By focusing on the whole picture rather than a fragment, participants were able to see how it was possible to resolve the obvious presenting issues by amending a seemingly unrelated interaction or process.

Highly thought provoking day which has helped me to grapple with counter-intuitive ideas and challenge thinking for myself and others, to enable transformational and sustainable change in Greater Manchester.

Given the ongoing level of popular demand for the Leading from Place workshops, we will be announcing two new dates shortly, so look out for these on the Leading GM website, on twitter and in your inboxes! If you’d like to receive updates on Leading GM announcements, subscribe to our mailing list by CLICKING HERE.

Slides from the day are available below: