Monday, 1 February 2016

Making it happen: a review of the third residential module

Last month, Firstline rolled out the third and final residential module for the inaugural 2015 cohort. The atmosphere across the two-day event proved a celebratory one and it was clear from the buzz and engagement in the room that the Firstline Leaders felt a high sense of achievement and were ready for a change.

We kicked off with what has now become a Firstline tradition: a hearty meal in the beautiful city of York. The pre-night dinner enabled the Leaders to relax, step away from the stresses of their daily roles in preparation for a full-on couple of days, reserving a little energy for the customary quiz!

Leadership styles
Firstline Leaders recently underwent the innovative Hay Group leadership diagnostics. Following some individual reflection, the first day started with reflections on their leadership style which they discussed with peers. Firstline Leaders commented that the leadership diagnostics made them think about recognising which areas of their role they feel less comfortable with, and identify how to overcome these challenges and use their leadership skills to move forward.

Public Narrative
The second session of the day was led by Innovative Programme Coach, Ruth Kennedy, with a focus on Public Narrative, a tool which uses stories to motivate others to action. Firstline Leaders explored their own stories, considering what it was that motivated them to enter the profession; what was happening within their organisations and teams; and what it was that they wanted to change. Firstline Leaders shared their Public Narrative with the group, and the emotionally charged response highlighted just how powerful stories are in communicating values and influencing others.

A clear theme emerged from the Firstline Leaders’ stories - social work as a profession is often not valued or even properly understood. Firstline Leaders seemed to naturally arrive at a joint call for action; ‘to be proud of what we do, and show others that social work can make a real difference’.

As one of the Leaders also asserted: we need to have confidence in ourselves and believe in each other so that we can help the families who need it.’ The determination to help others and make a difference featured strongly throughout the two days of the residential.

Take a look at the following clip which was showed to the Firstline Leaders for inspiration for their own Public Narrative:

Sharing learning from the Firstline projects
As part of the Firstline programme, Leaders undertook a practical project, which provided the opportunity to apply their learning from the programme. The project was based on a tangible change or improvement that Firstline Leaders wanted to make within their local authorities. A key part of the third residential module was for Leaders to share learning from their projects.

It was great to see so many local authority senior managers joining in on these sessions and showing their support and commitment to the Firstline Leaders. It was clear that Firstline Leaders found the support and feedback very encouraging. The project sessions took place in three regional groups, and prompted thoughtful and productive discussions to consider how the Firstline Leaders and Local Authority could move forward, and achieve change within their organisations.

What will your team say is different in six months’ time?
As the prototype phase of the programme is nearing an end, Firstline Leaders are facing the challenge of maintaining their momentum. They need to continue to put their learning into practice, influence others, and make positive changes for their teams and the families they work with. The Firstline Team are confident they will succeed in this challenge!

In the very last session of the residential, the Firstline Leaders were asked to reflect on what they would like to change within their organisations and asked to respond to the question ‘what will your team say is different in six months’ time?’ 

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