William Eichler 25 January 2024

Study reveals ‘worrying’ state of local government leadership

Study reveals ‘worrying’ state of local government leadership   image
Image: EtiAmmos / Shutterstock.com.

Just over half of council leaders and managers believe their local authority isn’t ensuring accountability for failure, an alarming new study has revealed.

Research from the Social Market Foundation (SMF) has painted a ‘worrying picture’ of the state of leadership and management across local government.

Drawing on survey findings and testimonies from senior managers and leaders, the study found that one in five council leaders (20%) believe their senior leadership is ineffective.

Around 40% said their senior leadership was also poor at motivating staff or failed to do so at all.

Over half (56%) reported that their organisation wasn’t ensuring accountability for failure, and just under 70% reported that there were ‘critical obstacles’ to them doing their jobs.

Recruitment and retention problems were most frequently cited (38%) as a problem area when it came to performance, followed by challenges around internal bureaucracy (33%) and finance (32%).

The SMF also found that while 77% of managers had taken part in leadership and management training in 2022, it was mostly unaccredited, and the average amount of days spent in training was lower than the UK average (2-4 days vs 6 days).

Commenting on the findings Anthony Painter, director of Policy at the Chartered Management Institute, said: ‘This research paints a worrying picture, but leadership and management failure is not inevitable. Investment in quality leadership and management and reinforcing that capability relentlessly will help navigate stormy waters and is ultimately an investment in communities.’

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