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Drivers for change

IO9: Effective leadership

Every report into the fire and rescue service talks about leadership. Sir George Bain writes in the Executive Summary to his 2002 report. “Notwithstanding the clear recipes for change which came from earlier studies, it was equally clear that progress had been disappointingly small. There are many reasons for this, but most important is that there has been a lack of leadership throughout the service at the political, institutional and operational levels. This problem has persisted for years.” 

Facing the Future makes the distinction between political leadership and sector leadership. Linking learning and leadership, Sir Ken writes, “Greater sector leadership is needed to drive through a culture of learning from good practice and challenging services to rise to the level of the best”.

There are 36 references to leadership in the Thomas Review. It contains this recommendation. “To create and maintain (in the face of decreasing numbers) a cadre of managers capable of becoming future fire and rescue service leaders, a standardised industry wide approach to leadership development should be adopted.”

Under the People pillar, HMICFRS focuses on leadership and capability. The inspection reports look at how fire and rescue services identify and support those with talent to become leaders of the future. HMICFRS finds that there is work to be done in this area. Worried about a ‘leadership drain’, the tranche 2 report highlights the large numbers of principal officers retiring from the fire and rescue service over the next two years and the impact it will have. 

The NFCC People Strategy contains six areas for improvement with leadership key to all areas of delivery. In the forward to the Leadership Framework, Roy Wilsher writes, “More than ever before, we need leaders who are both operationally and professionally competent as well as being capable of creating and delivering a compelling vision for the future to inspire and motivate others.” The Framework sets out the leadership behaviours required at each level of management. This provides the basis for which individuals can plan their own career development.

Acknowledging the publication of the NFCC’s Leadership Framework, the inspectorate notes, “We are pleased that service leaders through the NFCC and the new Fire Standards Board are addressing this problem.” It goes on to commend the Executive Leadership Programme.