In this devolved democracy the Scottish Government, formerly called the Scottish Executive, is a part of the greater UK Civil Service but exists to serve the Scottish Parliament. It became apparent that their task orientation, while known for its efficiency, had to change to meet the challenges facing the nation. “The Scottish government’s overarching purpose is to focus government and public services on creating a more successful country, which offers opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish through increasing sustainable growth. There are five strategic objectives underpinning that purpose – that Scotland should be wealthier and fairer; smarter; healthier; safer and stronger; and greener.” This clear statement of purpose from their website highlights both the aspiration and the call officials within the Scottish Government felt as a need to narrow what they perceived to be a gap in the Scottish Government’s leadership capacity.
In partnership with the Scottish Government, CLA developed a customized program to help civil servants lead in uncertainty and develop their leadership role in tackling the complex, long term public policy challenges facing Scotland. Over a five-year period, CLA worked with the top levels of the civil service in group settings to apply concepts of Adaptive Leadership and consider how colleagues can support each other in their leadership efforts. Cohorts were opened up to members of the wider public sector, enriching the learning and broadening engagement with the practice of adaptive leadership. Using a disciplined peer consulting model, members proactively engaged in difficult conversations across historic silos, drawing on each other as resources to identify legacy behaviors, leadership gaps and opportunities.
CLA’s ongoing work in Scotland has engaged 500+ civil service members to close the leadership gap and cascade the work throughout the government. The relationship between the civil service and the wider public sector has grown to a true partnership as the Scottish Government has begun to work on delivering outcomes for the people of Scotland, thinking systemically about their leadership role across traditional organizational and professional boundaries. They have moved from a task orientation to an outcome orientation.