Creating leadership culture

Article image - Creating leadership culture Leadership Coefficient collective leadership retreat with Singleton Council.

Singleton Council, New South Wales, has released a new case study showing how it transformed its leadership culture and levels of employee engagement.

The Collective Transformation of Public Sector Leadership at Singleton Council is a new case study describing the council’s journey towards a vibrant and energised new leadership culture and a significant increase in employee engagement. 

The story of this cultural transformation starts with challenges faced by many organisations across the private and public sectors.

When Singleton’s General Manager, Jason Linnane walked into his first executive meeting with his Senior Leadership Team three years ago, he was greeted with an empty seat at the head of a boardroom table and sixteen leaders waiting to be told what to do.

The experience set him on a mission to find a leadership development program that could make the difference he was looking for.

“I’ve always known that wisdom is not up to me - it lives in the collective. 

“As a keen systems thinker, I wanted a team that could take a collective approach to leadership.”

The challenge was to move Council’s approach from hierarchical to collective and leave behind a siloed approach with each leader focused on their own patch with little regard for the organisation as a whole.

Within weeks, Linnane had embarked on a journey with Sydney-based collective leadership consultancy firm, Leadership Coefficient, that fundamentally transformed his organisation.

When former Director Organisation and Community Capacity, the late Sharon Hutch, had newly joined Singleton Council, she immediately noticed levels of motivation and enthusiasm unlike anything she had seen previously. 

“I found senior leaders working at a level that is not common, with managers really looking at the big picture and coming up with great ideas outside their patch. 

“It’s so different to what other councils are achieving. Singleton Council is just streets ahead.” 

Termed ‘systems leadership’, the program aims to move leaders away from a ‘heroic leader on the rock’ style. 

Instead, a greater awareness of the whole organisation in developing solutions and implementing decisions is foremost. 

This does not come naturally to leaders who have grown up with more traditional ‘command and control’ leadership practices.

Singleton Council measured results carefully throughout their organisational transformation. 

Employee engagement, particularly around leadership, increased significantly, with the overall employee engagement score growing from 42 percent in 2018 to 72.5 percent in 2020.