What it was
A meeting to reflect on our collective learning with a cohort of people who had completed the Civil Service Future Leaders Scheme in 2017/18/19, chaired by Director-General at MOD and held in February 2019.
In this blog post I have pasted the content of the end-of-scheme learning template that I completed in preparation for the meeting.
What I learned
What was your key learning from the Scheme?
- Better grounding in commercial considerations
- Importance of self-organising, planning and review for my learning
- Preparation and considering my approach before meetings and engagements
- The value of coaching with my team leaders and as a general approach to conversations
- The need to ‘bring the outside in’ and harness external perspectives whenever the organisation needs to learn, grow, change or do new things
- Importance of planning and directing senior conversations
- Understanding my leadership style, and ensuring that I embody this
What has been your most important learning about yourself during your time on the scheme?
- I have a distinctive leadership style with helpful and unhelpful elements
- There is a place for my leadership style in the SCS (previously I had though there was not)
- I am able to adapt my leadership style to suit
- I need (and am broadly able) to create structure, context and continuity for myself as well as for the team
- I need support on project management / team co-ordination tasks
- My learning and development needs to be planned and managed
- Reflection is a powerful tool that I am able to use
What has been your greatest challenge over the past 2 years and how have you addressed this?
Aside from on-the-job challenges, the greatest challenge has been finding time/energy to dedicate to learning and development. I have addressed this by:
- Booking time in diary for learning, booking onto courses and insisting upon attending these even under sever diary pressures;
- Making my learning public, making a public commitment to act upon learning and therefore more likely to follow through
- Using some hours every week ‘dead time’ to focus on technical skills development. I have used the time to complete an online Python course (coding skills for data / analytics).
What were your departmental and corporate contributions during your time on the scheme?
- Arranged and hosted 2 x Action Learning Sets at MOD
- As part of the Experiment Group work, I developed, executed and analysed a randomised digital survey (analogous to a Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT)) of the FLS cohort (80 responses) – which showed that allowing flexible working makes a very significant difference to the number of candidates who will apply for an SCS post.
- Contributed to early phases of corporate challenge (was not able to participate in later stages)
- Set up the ‘lift lobby group’ of people involved in defence change programmes.
- Began publicly sharing (blogging) my learning
Overall comments on your experience of the scheme and what your next steps will be?
- I feel I have developed tremendously while on the FLS.
- Some of this development is likely due to my being on temporary promotion to SCS this year – however I feel I have developed much more during this stint on promotion than during my previous stint, with FLS being the key difference.
- I posit that the FLS has given me a framework and discipline to reflect upon and contextualise, and so truly learn from, my experiences – rather than simply experiencing them!
What I will aim to do differently as a result
Looking to the future:
- I want to continue learning about leadership and management
- I will continue to develop my technical skills and pursue becoming an intelligent customer for Machine Learning and AI.
- I will continue to seek out and apply for SCS1 opportunities
- I will aim to seek out a delivery role, and leadership roles.
- I will consider opportunities outside central Govt Departments
- I wish to stay in the digital/data/information field but would consider opportunities elsewhere that gave me the leadership and delivery opportunities I need.