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Leadership for reform and customer focus

On this page you will find information, guidance and research about the important role of leadership in driving public service reform and ensuring customer focused public services.

The role of leaders

Public service leaders need to create a positive environment for reform, creating the right organisational conditions and empowering staff. They need to display qualities including customer advocacy and empathy; entrepeneurial skills to identify and grasp opportunities for collaboration or co-development of services; and a capacity to influence wider service delivery systems.

While Government must provide leadership and direction at national level, community and customer needs are best identified and met locally, not centrally.

To be most effective, leaders need to find ways of providing choice and harnessing the energies of all their service users, including those who need help the most. And inherent in meeting customer needs is co-operation between leaders across sectors, often engaging with multiple partners to ensure that complex requirements can be delivered, seamlessly, to the customer.

What does customer focus mean?

Customer focus is about public service organisations treating service users with dignity and respect, and ensuring that the services they receive represent value for money. It is also about optimising choice for users, and giving them a stronger voice in designing services. This is imperative to achieving the Government's aims for a society in which there is universality of opportunity, in which every child and every adult is enabled to achieve their full potential.

So how can we achieve this?

The Public Services Leadership Consortium, established in 2005, identified customer focus as one of its key priorities, and sponsored research into the qualities required for customer focused leadership, and the learning required to develop these qualities.

The Public Services Leadership Consortium brings together the major public service leadership academies and is now run by the National School of Government. Please use the links below to access our research: