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

Brave New World by Paul D Parlby (@PParlby)– CEO of Crossroads Together (@XroadsTogether), participant on the GM Leaders Programme

CEO, Third Sector, Health and Social Care, Carers, all round Survivor and now Blogger.

Views are my own, no buzzwords, straight-talking and no towing of the corporate line found here…

So here it is… my start on the blogging journey.

I’m all ready to go now having read ‘The 12 Do’s & Don’ts of Writing a Blog’ by Brian Klems but I think its worth some background to why I’ve started this journey.  If truth be known, doing this type of thing is taking me right out of my comfort zone but I’m used to that being a CEO of a charity…. fighting for survival with very little money to scrap for, matched against ever increasing demands, changing times and moving goalposts.  For me its worth that uncomfortable personal inner feeling balanced against the possibility that, in my own small way I can try and make a difference and do the right thing.

If by doing this I can open up another channel of communication, generate some different dialogue and reach out to other people well that’s good enough for me.

Let’s start with a quote to warm things up “No one will ever discover new oceans unless they have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” (André Gide) just ponder on that one for a minute…  I’ll come back to that one later.

I do have a personal story to tell (you can skip this bit if you want – next two paragraphs).

My life actually started after school ended, which I hated.  I always had a passion to serve my country from being a child and serve it I did.  Almost as soon as I turned 18, proud as punch with a one-way ticket to the Queens Infantry Training Centre in my hand, I joined.  Many years later, having experienced different conflicts, lived in different countries, having met new people and new communities – fully aware of my breaking points, weaknesses and strengths, but more importantly, my weaknesses (which is actually what promoted my exit from a world I had always dreamt about into a world I had never really known, ‘Civvy Street’) My weakness, in the eyes of the military was that I was hungry for better things.  I wanted something more than a regimented structure would ever have offered me… that next challenge which didn’t have to be physical or in conflict, and most of that hunger boiled down to one thing, re-educating myself and going back to the bit in my life which I had largely ignored.

My entry back into civilian life should have been a breeze…. after all I was a trained survivor and fighter, my energy was high, I was as fit as a fiddle, I had money in the bank (about 6 months’ worth) and I could jump straight into the workplace.  No.  The reality was that I was unemployable – no civilian skills, no experience, 6 years worth of front line soldiering meant nothing… to anyone, it all felt like a waste of time.  Some dark times followed this point but to cut an even longer story short my saving grace was not the chance meeting in the pub or the local veterans charity… it was the local college, in fact let me name them they deserve it, Salford College.  Not an easy transition for a lost mature student in a sea of juvenile, overly confident, smug teenagers with ego’s that could take on the world.  The belief of two college lecturers, who truly believed in me, encouraged me, inspired me and made a massive difference which still resonates with me to this today.  I owe so so much to these two individuals who went above and beyond to make that difference and help me through those dark times.  (I know for many people, not just military veterans that those dark times are not easy to escape and the battle continues.)

So, that’s my story.


Now then let’s get down to the point of all this.

It was a suggestion from a colleague to start this journey, this transition into a different world, but this was never going to be the true start of it.  The start of this journey actually happened about 18 months ago on day one of the Greater Manchester (GM) Leaders Programme where I met other people equally passionate about making a difference and doing the right thing.  A room full of people who were inquisitive about what this brave new world might look, and how they could build something to try and get there.  The energy we have all taken from the GM Leaders Programme from the truly inspirational speakers and facilitators something of which I have never experienced before and I don’t mean this lightly, means we keep going.  This is the birth of a new movement and it’s really exciting to be part of it and I would encourage others to join in.

My passion for the voluntary sector, my passion for doing the right thing, my utter dismay of how we treat people, how we think we know what’s best for people without even asking them, how we build systems, processes, pathways and frameworks to push people down them who then get lost, how we assume that one size fits all when no two fingerprints are the same, how services are commissioned that only meet the needs of the commissioner, how we work in isolation but often co-exist in the same location/building… the list goes on and on… These are all things that get right on my wick!  But here’s the thing, there is a glimmer of light in all this, and it’s happening on your doorstep.  Regardless of how this has been pitched to you before, regardless of what you have heard, there is a movement of ‘doers’ who are beginning to infect the excessive directives and rigid conformity that surrounds us every day and hinders our hunger for making a difference, prevents us from working together and stops us doing the right thing.  Here’s the other thing – the ‘doers’ are growing in numbers, they are also growing in confidence, they are chasing out the elephants in the room, they are asking the big awkward ‘ouch’ questions of themselves, their organisations, their leadership and the leadership within their own organisations.  That glimmer of light is the Greater Manchester ambition to do something different, and the GM Leaders Programme which is starting to generate much of this light.

That’s really useful for me on a programme full of statutory leaders is my 3rd Sector perspective.  Making people really understand a sector which they thought they knew about.  Making the case for how we fit in and how we are very much part of the solution.  The opportunity to get involved in different groups working through different issues, to learn about the pressures people and organisations are under and working to find that common ground.  In my view we are still no where near that ‘promised land’ and there is certainly no road map to help us get there but that’s what makes this programme unique.  Being connected with a room full of frustrated people who are willing to find those shared values is something truly amazing to be part of.

My advice to other 3rd sector leaders and statutory leaders across Greater Manchester would be to get involved but, be patient, be willing to try something different and accept the view that something different needs to be done before you even walk in the door, oh and leave your history and your existing ways of doing things back behind the door.  You will not find a right or wrong answer here, and not one single entity has all the answers.  This is certainly not a top down driven approach, in fact I’m not too sure what it is and that really doesn’t matter to be honest.

Our statutory partners on the GM Leaders programme have a hell of a mountain to climb, a myriad of hierarchical structures to get around, and lots of deep rooted systems to navigate and you have to admire their courage to fight through it BUT it’s not going to be an overnight job!

My call out to you would be why not be a ‘doer’ and switch from being the done to.

“No one will ever discover new oceans unless they have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

Be Brave.

Thanks for listening.





Street Wisdom: New Dates Announced

Leading GM Street Wisdom

As part of the Leading GM activities for 2017 / 18, we are delighted to announce six Street Wisdom sessions, facilitated by Kev Wyke. These six Street Wisdom sessions will be held throughout November and December in:

Rochdale 13 November
Bolton 20 November
Wigan 27 November
Stockport 29 November
Manchester 30 November
Oldham 4 December

For more information and to book, please click on the the local authority area where you would like to participate in Street Wisdom.

What is it?

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.

Why the streets?

Because they are many and varied. They are free to use. They are where we spend an increasing amount of our metropolitan lives. And they are a rich source of untapped wisdom. It turns out, you don’t need an exotic getaway to find inspiration. It’s right outside your door. And you won’t burn a tonne of fossil fuel getting there.

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