CMI has partnered with the Social Market Foundation to explore the role that quality leadership and management can play in improving local government effectiveness.

Explore the findings

The State of Leadership in Local Government

Effective leadership and management significantly impact public sector performance, including in local government. This report, leveraging insights from an expert roundtable, recent survey data, and case studies, delves into the performance and challenges of leadership and management in local government.

Research reveals that while local government leaders recognise the crucial role of leadership quality in organisational success, only 67% deem their senior leadership effective. Other key challenges identified were low morale, limited performance management and inadequate recruitment, with only 45% of leaders feeling confident in their organisation's ability to attract talent.

The report proposes actionable recommendations and highlights four successful examples of organisations benefiting from strong leadership and management practices.

Read the report

Key research findings

effective icon Only 67% think that senior leadership in their organisation is effective at ensuring the organisation succeeds, raising questions about how widespread good leadership is.

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recruitment-icon Less than half (only 45%) of surveyed leaders and managers agreed that in 2022, the leadership in their council was effective at attracting talent.

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motivating icon 40% of leaders and managers said the senior leadership in their authority were poor at motivating staff or failed to do it at all.

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short term focus icon Only 44% think that their organisation is performing well in ensuring accountability for failure and just under a quarter (24%) think addressing staff underperformance is poor.

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Proposed Improvements

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Focus on Management and Leadership

The Office for Local Government (Oflog) should prioritise leadership and management quality. Building an accurate picture of the current state and promoting the adoption of best practices can significantly improve leadership standards in local government.

10-year workforce strategy

The Department for Levelling-Up Housing and Communities (DLUHC) should collaborate with stakeholders to create a 10-year workforce strategy for local government. The strategy needs to include a funding increase for councils to improve recruitment and retention of staff across all levels.

training icon

Establish a leadership academy

To aid the development of leaders and managers, DLUHC should establish a leadership academy, so that all levels of management in local government can have access to consistent high quality leadership and management training.

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Diversify the workforce

The workforce strategy should recognise the wealth of experience that can come from outside the local government. Introducing a direct entry system for experienced leaders seeking a career change can bring fresh perspectives from other industries.

Browse our Policy and Research Work

86 entries found

Mission Possible – A plan for a stronger managed UK

Read CMI’s policy paper setting out key areas of challenge for a new government.

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Topic: Flexibility

Making Hybrid Work for you and your Team

The research highlights the crucial role that management skills play in overcoming the obstacles to making hybrid work.

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Topic: Equality and Diversity

EDI approaches that go ‘Beyond Buzzwords’

Embedding a systemic approach to Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) across the UK’s professions

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Topic: Productivity

Spring Budget 2024; CMI Submission

CMI’s representation to the UK Government’s 2024 Spring Budget.

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