15 things I’ve learnt so far from LG Comms Future Leader Programme


I am on the 2017 LG Comms Future Leader Programme and I’m very glad I took the time to fill in the application form. I followed the journey of the previous cohort and knew I’d get a lot from the scheme. I didn’t quite realise how much value I would wring from this opportunity already.
To kick the programme off, there were Best Practice days in London last month. These were two of the most valuable days of CPD I have done in the last five years. We heard from some awesome people in our industry, and we also had the space to consider what sort of leaders we want to become. It left me with a lot to take on board.

We spent day one at London Councils with Heads and Directors of Comms, experts in leadership, and social media, and finance colleagues too.

Day two consisted of spending the day in one of the Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms learning about the incredible Government Communications Service (GCS) led by Executive Director for Government Communications Alex Aiken.

I’m grateful to LG Comms, the Local Government Association, GCS and all the speakers who took time to see us in September, as well as my line manager Emily for her support.

I’d like to share with you some of the takeaways that have stuck with me:

  1. Make your comms human scale. If you’re talking about something large, break it down so it opens the door to a bigger conversation.
  2. What you rather from your team? Two years working at 100% or 20 years at 20%?
  3. A great leader is not afraid to ask for help
  4. The scale of the funding gap for local government is immense over the coming years and we more than ever need to work closely with our finance teams
  5. Bring leaders of the organisation with you. Let them know what you’re doing and why. Don’t assume the cogs in their heads work in the same way as yours do.
  6. Take time to think about what leader you want to be by writing the retirement tribute you want to hear in the future
  7. Anti-abstract comms messaging, such as “build a wall”, can help your audience see this in their mind
  8. Think commercially to become a successful at self-funding your Communications Team, such as thinking as an agency and upskilling your team to pitch to new clients
  9. By better managing your client expectations, you can reduce the out of hours demands placed on your team
  10. Work with your internal clients to train them in outcome setting – this will pay dividends when you come to evaluate your comms
  11.  Use the Hemingway App to refine your writing. Seriously, it’s excellent. (This blog has a grade 7 good rating.)
  12. Alex Aiken cites the 3Gs for leadership: grace, grit and goals. He also recommends Angela Duckworth’s book “Grit”, which I’m working my way through.
  13. Use data and evidence to speak truth to power
  14. The future is bright for the use of data within government to strengthen communications. I’m watching to see the outcomes of their data analysts/scientists/journalist.
  15. Don’t develop best practice in silos – read/watch/do/share

I’m looking forward to seeing our group next week when we all head up to Leeds for Comms Academy – which looks like a cracking lineup.

You can read more about the Future Leaders Programme on the LG Comms website.

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