Vital ingredients for successfully serving a community: What local governments must do

25/06/2021 - 09:21


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Vital ingredients for successfully serving a community: What local governments must do

While the size and complexity of local governments differ substantially, especially when comparing entities located in cities and regional WA, all local governments are established in the same way and have the same overall objective: to serve their communities.

Successfully serving communities depends largely on the people involved in governance and day-to-day operations of local government.

People power starts with good leadership

Getting the right balance of skills and experience in council members and management is vital to the business of local government. However, through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries Inquiry Reports and in our work with local governments, we see that the root cause of many of the findings do not relate to lack of skill or experience, but rather to lack of leadership, unethical organisational cultures or failures in governance or integrity.

Serving communities while minimising risk

In our work we see that effective leadership, ethics and governance practices are vital for excellence and efficiency in public service delivery, as well as minimising the risk of fraud and corruption.

While good governance and integrity is already a core focus area of local governments, we believe that leadership and organisation culture are areas that usually require development. 

But what does effective leadership look like in local government, and what ingredients make an organisational culture perfect for public service delivery?

Effective leadership is having a deep understanding of a Council’s overall purpose and goals and developing a vision for the Council based on the needs of the community.  Communicating the vision effectively to all stakeholders is key so that they understand how they fit into the big picture and how they contribute to implementing the vision. Effective leaders also accept the responsibility and need to develop others to succeed in their roles and to prepare for future roles.

In our work we observe that an effective leadership team in public service has the following attributes: 

  • Sets long-term planning strategies to fulfil the vision of Council
  • Demonstrates integrity by adhering to laws, regulations and codes of practice
  • Communicates effectively to the public and to management in Council meetings
  • Challenges the status quo by constructively questioning management’s view and robustly debating matters, so that the best outcome is achieved for the Council  
  • Recognises and celebrates the success and achievement of others
  • When disputes arise, the team is able to make difficult decisions to protect the interests of Council and the community
  • Empowers others by providing opportunities for growth and learning
  • Motivates and inspires the management team to enhance public service delivery

Becoming an effective leader can be taught, and when organisations invest in training their people to be effective leaders, people improve the overall business.

Organisational culture is made up of shared core values, beliefs and assumptions about how people should behave and interact, how decisions should be made and how activities should be carried out. The core values, beliefs and assumptions are established, communicated and reinforced through various methods, strongly influenced by leadership of the vision and of a set of standards, and ultimately shape employee perceptions, behaviours and understanding. 

Successful organisations build leadership, culture, governance and integrity into all aspects of their business and empower employees and stakeholders to develop skills in these areas.

At Butler Settineri our leaders and team members have developed our core values and beliefs and we continue to find innovative ways to reinforce this in our day-to-day operations.  We develop effective leaders by providing leadership training to our employees and invest in their personal development. We believe that good governance and integrity are the foundation of any business.

We also believe in partnering with like-minded local governments, our objective being to assist you to maintain and monitor compliance with robust operational and financial policies and processes, so that you can focus on your core business, serving your community.

If there is a way we can serve you, we’d love to talk with you about your particular needs.

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Telephone number: (08) 6389 5222




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