What is it to be a 21st century public servant? A new eBook captures it with a collection of stories from public servants from across the sectors.
by Dawn Reeves
How do you communicate what we need from 21st Century public servants in these volatile and complex times? And what’s it like to be one? Walk Tall, a new free eBook – launched on Friday 15th July, jointly commissioned by the LGA, SOLACE and the PPMA – helps nail this down by using compelling stories – an intriguing mix of personal narratives, creative conversations, profiles, opinions and short fiction. It’s not comms as you know it.
The stories capture the essence of what it is to be a 21st century public servant. They are a positive reminder that, in our post-Brexit world, the sector employs people who are already creating original solutions to complex issues. Their deeply held values, positivity, flexibility, progressive attitudes and fresh thinking jump off the page.
The story part is important. As Mark Rogers, Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council, says, “Stories make us human. They are how we connect, how we make sense of the world. You can’t work with the kind of complexity public services are experiencing now with without the vital first step of sharing personally who we are before talking about what we need to do together.”
The book includes a reflective piece by Sue Hawkins, a psychologist in the Youth Offending team at Stockport Council, on fostering a shared humanity with the young people she works with; a gritty and immensely practical frontline view from Lindsay Saunders and Heather Brown, local government Key Workers based in a police station in Wigan, focusing on their relationship with their locality; and Ian Lloyd, Transformation Manager for the Isle of Wight Council, on how communicating change to citizens is central to his creative thinking in response to austerity.
There is also a sideways take on pan-public sector leadership by Mark Rogers. In times of upheaval it can be tempting to fall back on traditional, hero-style leadership, but these stories, especially the pieces from colleagues in Oxfordshire Fire &Rescue Service show how collaborative and distributed leadership can make a significant difference.
Although we know the book doesn’t scratch the surface in terms of the range and depth of the contributions public servants make, we are delighted that 65 people from 25 organisations have taken part – in today’s mixed economy of service provision – this includes public servants working in voluntary and private sector providers.
Serving communities and improving people’s lives is a driving force and clear motivator for all our contributors, and public service is at the heart of every story. As the leader of the team that curated the book (and a former corporate director in local government), it’s been a creative and inspiring experience. In the same spirit, we hope that everyone who reads it will use the book creatively and – importantly – will pass it on to colleagues.
We believe that by changing the story, you change the workforce, the organisation and the sector. This storybook is bold and the people in it are fantastic. They are the ones who will stitch the post-Brexit world together.
Download the eBook here:
For more information on Walk Tall, contact Dawn Reeves via email@example.com
In line with the Walk Tall theme and as a creative approach to representing the diversity of the local government workforce, contributors were invited to take selfies of their shoes