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RCT County Borough Council

Developing contemporary leadership skills for a fast-changing public-sector organisation

Transform Case Study

We were delighted to have the opportunity to continue our work with RCTCBC on a refreshed version of the Transform Programme for RCT’s senior leaders. Our objective was to develop contemporary leadership skills for a fast-changing public-sector organisation. We approached the leadership challenge with a different mindset, using our skills as Business Psychologists, and working with the Chief Executive and Head of OD to align the programme with the organisation’s strategic aims. We developed an innovative approach centred on neuroscience – the first evidence-based applied neuroscience programme to be rolled out in a Welsh local authority.

The first workshop introduced the concept of resonant leadership. This form of leadership is brain-friendly and emotionally-intelligent, supported by the latest evidence from neuroscience. Resonant leadership practices were promoted throughout the programme, ensuring delegates developed an intrinsic and habitual appreciation of the approach. It was designed to avoid the ‘muddle of many models’ that can reduce the effectiveness of leadership development programmes.

We identified the following focal points for the programme:

  • Focus on ‘brain-friendly’ leadership
  • Develop a deep understanding of the impact of our emotions and behaviours
  • Support personal and team well-being and resilience
  • Promote engagement, collaboration and decision-making within and between organisations
  • Deepen the quality of the political interface with Elected Members
  • Manage difficult conversations and challenging situations
  • Lead and implement change effectively

The programme consisted of the following elements:

1. Psychometrics (delivered by the RCTCBC Organisational Development Team)

Prior to the programme, we agreed it was important for participants to understand their own style and preferences, so we introduced:

  • MBTI
  • Hogan Personality Inventory, Development Survey and Motivators and Values Preference Inventory
  • Saville Wave Professional Styles

2. Participant meeting with Chief Executive, Line Manager and Lead Facilitator

The output from the profiling was combined with a detailed discussion to generate:

  • Personal development goals
  • A service performance improvement goal
  • A service transformation goal

The purpose of these meetings was to gain support for participants as well as generating strong personal accountability for change. It was important to include both personal and organisational goals to maximise the impact of the programme.


Each module concluded with an application challenge: asking each participant to apply their learning, record the impact and report back at the following workshop. Learning methods included:

  • Real play sessions with professional business actors
  • Input from RCT senior stakeholders
  • Case studies
  • Reviews of best practice examples
  • Use of RCTCBC’s internal learning platform RCT Source to share material and discussions between workshops

The Workshop Schedule:

  1. Applying Resonant Leadership
  2. Leading Collaborative Change
  3. Building Resilience
  4. Creating a Resilient Environment
  5. Managing Challenging Situations
  6. Optimising the Political Interface
  7. Advanced Coaching Skills
  8. Developing a Productive Career

Workshops were rated extremely positively by participants, with average scores rated as ‘excellent’.

3. Service Transformation Projects

Participants were paired to support each other in delivering identified service transformation projects. The pairings ensured that individuals would:

  • Get to understand areas of the organisation that they might not often engage with or encounter day-to-day
  • Have to play an active coaching role in supporting their partner
  • Focus on ‘real’ transformation needs, as opposed to projects that are invented for the programme

Project examples included digitisation of a number of areas of the organisation including HR processes and library catalogues, as well as delivery of integrated working projects with partners.

4. End of Programme Review

A review with the Chief Executive and Lead Facilitator for delegates to outline their progress in relation to their personal development, service improvement and service transformational goals, plus their input to their ‘paired’ transformation goal. Participants also shared their thoughts on the key learning points from the programme.

Participants completed an in-depth review form outlining their personal progress through the programme as well as changes in their leadership style, team performance and progress towards objectives and goals.

Outcomes and Benefits

All participants detailed a number of significant changes that they had made as a result of the programme particularly relating to:

  • Changing their approach to managing their team to incorporate coaching; to empower, involve and delegate more effectively; and to utilise the strengths of their teams fully
  • Implementing change more effectively by involving stakeholders; using models such as SCARE and the Polarity Matrix to make effective decisions, anticipate and respond to challenges and negative responses
  • Managing their time more efficiently by prioritising and by understanding the impact of attempting to multi-task on the brain so maintaining focus on one task at a time
  • Understanding and tackling areas of personal change including managing their emotional responses; improving self-confidence and belief; changing behaviours that were having a negative impact on themselves and others
  • Involving and focusing on customers by developing projects to support citizens as well as using new techniques to listen to alternative views
  • Building strong relationships and powerful relationships by focusing on resonant leadership approaches.

The Transform programme was innovative in its neuroscientific approach whilst remaining brain-friendly and brain smart. It delivered on its objectives and sought to challenge participants to think creatively about implementing solutions and their own impact on driving success, and has had a positive impact on RCT’s leaders and the organisation. The programme has been recommissioned for the next tier of management with 40 new participants.

“We recognise that transformational leadership is key to ensuring that Rhondda Cynon Taf Council evolves and adapts effectively to continually meet the needs of our community. The Transform Development Programme provided us with an opportunity to enable senior managers to examine and reflect on their own style and preferences and to develop new skills and knowledge to enhance their performance. Running two cohorts in tandem enabled us to also facilitate opportunities to build strong and effective networks and a strong sense of team amongst the delegates. Seeing the distance travelled for each individual throughout the programme and getting to know each one on a far deeper level has also enabled me to understand the strengths and potential within this tier of management.” Chris Bradshaw – Chief Executive, RCTCBC

“The Transform programme was developed in true partnership with Insight and the creative approach taken has delivered a programme at the cutting edge of leadership development, making a real difference to our leaders at individual and organisational level. During the development stages, we worked together to assess the needs of the individuals and the organisation through discussion with the Council’s Chief Executive, the use of a range of psychometric tools with each delegate, and four-way meetings between the delegate, their line manager, the Insight facilitator and the Chief Executive. This gave all involved a real sense of joint ownership of the programme. Using our internal learning platform to complement workshop topics and to facilitate discussion and debate between sessions assisted in ongoing communication between delegates and the course tutor.

Feedback from delegates has been extremely positive in terms of the impact and delivery with a range of benefits being highlighted by participants at the end of the programme. This included the sense that they felt part of a wider network of leaders within the Council and that they had a common language and knowledge framework to access when addressing any of the topics covered within the workshops.” Deb Hughes – Head of Organisational Development

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