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Wed, 06 Jul 22 11:59

Leaders of Steel

It’s a sobering realisation to know that I started to learn some of the fundamentals of economics in the heady time of the 1980s! In a turbulent time of rocketing energy prices (remember what that was like?), the Chairman of British Steel (there’s a memory of a time gone by!) confirmed that it was not his job to make steel, but his job to make money. He was clear as to what he considered the purpose of his role and who he was appointed to serve.

Even the most purist among us would accept that as leaders in children’s services, a significant burden we carry is the role we have as custodians of the public purse and how serious this challenge can be. Whilst some of us are contributing to the Herculean task of councils setting their 2022/23 budget, or whether it’s limping our way towards the end of another challenging financial year, there remains a clear and shared determination to continue to meet some long-term challenges and endeavour to achieve sustainable change for children and families. All this whilst continuing to prioritise the value of what we do, and not just the cost, and to keep close the things we hold dear.

Over the last two weeks, with the news of Russian troops moving into Ukraine, there was rightfully a loud voice from the West in opposition to the significant impact such a manoeuvre would have. However, then came the challenge of the response; what should the sanctions be? How should each country collectively and individually react? The tension of holding up the values we profess to believe in, whilst worrying about the cost that may have to be paid, appears a sacrifice too far for some and perhaps exposes the compromises that we can all face unless we hold true to the values we profess.

The compromises that we, in our roles, sometimes have to make must continue to be felt if we believe in the value of our contribution. The need to promote the welfare of our children and young people, within the cacophony of competing demands on limited resources, needs leaders to understand the long-term impact of what we know is right. It requires role modelling congruity between our words and actions.

To those of us who are leaders in public service it is right we consider the financial costs of any decision we make, but surely we need to understand the value of the actions we take. It can often feel like we need the wisdom of Solomon to balance the pros and cons of some of the challenges we face, but if we retain our principles, understand the cost but prioritise the value, it can often make for the wisest investment.

So, to return to the analogy, we should continue to demonstrate ourselves as ‘Leaders of Steel’, even if that at times comes at a sacrificial cost.


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