Use the links below to find out more about our case studies:
[expand title="Dominic Brankin" tag="p"]
Jobcentre Plus is the largest delivery agency within the DWP. As Customer Services Director for the North East, Dom is responsible for ensuring the 45 Jobcentres in his region deliver against their targets and provide a high-quality customer service.
What does your role involve day-to-day Dom?
There is such variety that it’s impossible to describe a typical day. One day I might meet with a large employer in the local community, while the next I could be finalising the year’s budget or sitting in on a disciplinary hearing.
I also spend as much time as I can in our Jobcentres, talking to our teams on the frontline. This experience is invaluable when it comes to understanding what support people need and how else I can help them help our customers.
What’s the most important element of the leadership framework for your role?
There’s no doubt results are vital. We’re measured on how quickly we place priority groups into employment, how accurately we deliver benefits and how well we manage those not actively looking for work.
There is also a very strong bias towards capability. I need to ensure we have the people and processes in place to provide the best experience for our customers, now and for the future delivery of welfare to work.
A great example of this is the project to join up people’s benefits. Traditionally, individuals have been assessed separately for unemployment benefit, housing benefit and tax credits, which could take up to three months. By combining the processes, we’ve cut the total time to less than a month and improved the accuracy of payments.
The project was piloted in our region, and I now help to ensure we continue to use the new process to best effect.
[expand title="Fiona Spencer" tag="p"]
In her role as Strategic Programme Manager, Fiona is responsible for overseeing delivery of strategic programmes within the Border & Immigration Agency’s Transformation Programme.
What one word would best sum up your approach to leadership Fiona?
I think it would be ‘collaborative’. I have a small team, but also work closely with an extensive network of people across the Agency to help set the strategic direction for programmes, and get their buy-in to the bigger picture.
How closely does what you do relate to the leadership framework?
Results are critical. Our programmes must deliver against their strategic objectives, and we report back to the Agency Board and Ministers every month on how effectively we are doing this.
Building capability is just as important, though. Following the IND Review in July 2006, we established four key strategic objectives, and seven separate capability programmes to support them. These included tangible things like establishing IND as an Agency and creating a new regional structure, as well as wider work to develop leadership and management and to create a more accountable, responsive culture.
And to ensure all our programmes work together to meet our objectives and PSA targets, we are developing a coherent overall blueprint for how the Agency will operate in future, through work to define our business and systems architecture.
[expand title="Kathy Barnes" tag="p"]
As Director of National Processing for HMRC, Kathy oversees 9,500 processing staff across 30 locations, covering Tax Credit, Child Benefit, VAT, Customs and Excise and National Insurance Processing.
How would you describe your leadership style Kathy?
I try to be a very visible and approachable leader. I want my teams to have the opportunity to share any concerns or ideas on how we can do things better. And people respond well to this; the staff forums I run are always full of volunteers.
I think this approach has helped me get the best from people – and sustain a high level of performance among the teams I oversee.
Which elements of the leadership framework are most important to what you do?
Of course they are all important, but for me personally the key things are giving direction and building capability.
In terms of an overall vision, I encourage the teams to think about the people they help as customers, who deserve the best service.
Then it’s about creating the environment in which everyone can perform at their best and deliver on our objectives. That means setting achievable targets, rewarding success and constantly looking at how we can improve the way we work.
And underpinning everything is teamwork. In processing, as with any operational function, our success really does depend on how well we perform as a whole.
[expand title="Simon Parkes" tag="p"]
After several years in the Army and RAF, during which he trained as an accountant, Simon brought his leadership skills to the DWP. He is now responsible for the day-to-day management of the Department’s finances – as well as PSAs and agency targets.
Has working in the Armed Forces given you a different perspective on leadership Simon?
It gave me a very clear idea of what leadership is about – it really doesn’t begin and end with the working day.
It’s also made me place greater focus on arriving at a solution, and always maintaining momentum when working out how to get there.
In terms of the leadership framework, how do the two roles compare?
A military background certainly helps with decision-making and giving direction, plus of course there is a very clear emphasis on results.
The main difference is how you motivate and engage people. In the forces, I led a very close-knit group of men and women, all of whom I knew very well. Here I am trying to influence rather more people, so the key is being able to successfully lead through others.
I have also learnt from the High Performance Development Scheme (HPDS) the importance of self-awareness, which is quite a rare quality. The scheme is helping us really understand our own strengths and weaknesses, and teaching us how to take feedback – positive and constructive.