LGcomms are recruiting 12 new public sector comms people for their Future Leaders programme. It’s a brilliant chance to pick-up new skills, learn things and compare notes with people who are in the same boat. Why? Because people who have recommend it.
By Dan Slee
Word of mouth is a powerful thing. Don’t believe me? Almost 60 per cent of people buy things on the recommendation of others.
Back when I was in local government the best course I ever went on was the LGcomms Future Leaders programme. Of course, I was already deep into my career. I was an experienced PR person who was developing new digital skills at my own initiative.
But I knew I needed something extra and the LGcomms Future Leaders programme gave extra. It’s a year-long programme that develops skills. For me? It gave me a better understanding of strategy. I’d had years of fighting hand-to-hand in the trenches. This gave me the perspective of the battlefield. It gave me the insight to stop some of what I was doing and start other things instead. And it gave the confidence to look people in the eye and tell them why we wouldn’t be doing that.
If you are in the public sector and your organisation is a member of LGcomms you have a short window to apply to be part of the new intake. You can do so by visiting lgcomms.org.uk and filling out the simple application form, if your organisation isn’t a member of LGcomms then you can also find out how to become one on the website too, for just £250.
But don’t just trust me, trust the others who have taken part:
It gave me a deeper insight
“The Leadership programme gave me a deeper insight into Local Government communications, today’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities. Networking with fellow colleagues was invaluable, the Leadership course highlighted to me the ways and means to progress into a senior position. Opportunities like these are rare in the public sector and I strongly recommend it to fellow public sector colleagues.”
Sima Alavi, Communications Manager, University of Leeds
It steered me through a sticky period
“Becoming a Future Leader has given me so much confidence in my abilities and a fresh, focussed outlook on my future career. Learning from an inspiring group of communications professionals throughout the programme gave me insight into exactly the challenges that I have been facing in my job and helped me pinpoint what I need to do to reach my full potential. The advice of my mentor proved invaluable, steering me through a tricky period at work and an internal job interview, which resulted in a promotion. It was a pleasure to share the experience with such a talented and supportive group of women.”
Stephanie Collinson, Senior Communications Officer, Wyre Council
It helped me land my next job
Future Leaders was an incredible experience to gain insight and access into areas that you wouldn't otherwise. From theory to practice, it covers the whole lot in a fun, collaborative and supportive way. Shortly after I completed the course I went on to my first head of communications role. I credit the course for giving me much of the confidence for landing that job. I would highly recommend it to anyone.
Emma Rodgers, Stoke-on-Trent City Council
It helped me make a transition
“The LGComms Future leaders programme could not have come at a better time for me. I was making the transition between being a manager in supporting roles, and stepping into a more senior leadership position. There has never been a programme I felt better pitched to the stage I was in in my career.”
Jo Nicholson is Currently Interim Deputy Head of Communications at Health and Safety Executive and is an Account Director at Westco Trading.
It linked me with my mentor
“For me, one of the most valuable parts of the Future Leaders course was being paired with a mentor. Where else would you get the chance to learn from and pick the brains of leading local government comms professionals in one-to-one meetings, where the sole focus is on helping you develop your skills and career? This alone would have made Future Leaders worth it for me, but in reality the programme offered so much more: a whole new network of peers across the sector; broadening my skills; the increased confidence to communicate more credibly and the knowledge that I'm part of a very professional and supportive sector. If you haven't already applied to be a Future Leader, what are you waiting for?”
Ashley Lennon, Communications and Recruitment manager, Glasgow City Council.
It taught me to be a change agent
Back in 2013 when I was part of the Future Leaders programme I had just been awarded the new post of Strategic Account Manager for Marketing Communications – I was nervous! The single thing that helped me and that I still put into practise today is to be an 'agent of change'. The practise of transferring my knowledge, and the knowledge of my fabulous team, to enable our clients to solve problems alongside us. It really helps!
Emma Denley, customer and communications manager, Buckinghamshire County Council
It gave me confidence
“Through the course we were pushed and challenged to think about taking that next step in our career development, and it gave me the confidence in applying for a more senior role. It also provides a network of colleagues across the country, facing similar challenges and pressures. Two years on we are still in touch, and the worth of having a group of peers you can ask advice from or bounce ideas off cannot be underestimated.”
Jonathan Phillips, senior communications officer, Essex County Council
It built me an incredible network
"I have to admit, I felt slightly awkward applying to be a "Future Leader". That certainly wasn't how I would have described myself to others at the time.
"But just nine months on, with my confidence through the roof, an incredible network of local comms professionals just an email away, and leadership training under my belt, I'm so glad I did.
"Future Leaders teaches you that leadership is something we all do in comms, every day. We just don't have the chance in our busy working lives to step back and reflect. While not demanding huge amounts of your time, the programme still manages to provide an invaluable opportunity to take time out and develop the skills we already have, or might need, to lead a team through the choppy waters of local government.
"Most valuable of all, you meet an amazing group of peers who quickly become a professional network, a sounding board, and lifelong friends."
Kate Holmes, account director, Westminster Council
It boosted my confidence
"It would be impossible to overstate how much I have enjoyed the Future Leaders programme, how much I have learnt and how much it has boosted my confidence. It is an exceptionally well organised and very practical course, with diverse content that I can honestly say changed and improved my work straight away, as well as giving me plenty to reflect on in terms of my longer term development. For me, the best part of the programme has been working with and getting to know the other Future Leaders. We have formed a strong group offering each other support and advice. We will keep in touch and this is hugely valuable to me."
Anna Caig, external affairs manager, Sheffield City Council
It made me consider what leader I wanted to be
“The Future Leader course helped me consider what sort of “leader” I wanted to be and how I could go about ensuring that I matched up to these standards. Being a “leader” isn’t necessarily about being the next head of comms but can be about being a strong manager, a respected professional and providing leadership to those around you. For me, being a Future Leader wasn’t about climbing to the top of the career ladder but was about positioning myself as an expert, building trusted relationships and providing guidance and support to those around me – regardless of title, ability or seniority.”
Katie Canning, Communications Manager, Essex County Council
Don’t be a future leader… just be a leader
“Don't be a future leader...just be a leader. Make a difference now.
"That's what I took from my time on the programme. Along with building a fantastic network of comms professionals and having opportunities to work with and learn from some of the best people in the business.
Natalie Corney, Corporate Communications Manager, Brent Council
It gave me a fantastic experience
“The Future Leaders course was a fantastic experience that has given me a like-minded network, new skills and, fundamentally, confidence in my ability to be a Head of Communications in the future. The combination of practical sessions, theoretical learning and some really challenging tasks has improved my ability and I now have a nationwide network of friends to share ideas, best practice and pain with! I would not hesitate to recommend the course to those aspiring to a Communications leadership role.”
Julie Waddicor, Campaigns and Internal Communications Manager, Staffordshire County Council.
It’s like a travel guide...
“The course is like a good travel guide. There's a suggested timetable. There are opportunities over six months to get to know a group of leaders with who you can share and learn, through workshops, tasks, conferences and academic lectures.
“There's pictures of the destination. It's clear from the outset that that this is a practical course designed to set you up with the skills you need for your next senior role in communications.
“There's tips from real travellers. You get the chance to meet lots of other senior leaders in local government and relevant organisations who tell you what it's really like. There's inspiration. I left each of the Future Leaders sessions feeling committed to doing a better job than I'd ever done before.”
Holly Cubitt, communications accounts manager, Sheffield City Council
Dan Slee is co-creator of comms2point0 and a former LGComms Future Leader.
Picture credit: Florida Memory / Flickr