Council saved by breaking with tradition

Employing
leaders who are individualists and strategists has been key to the recovery of
Kent County Council.

Two years
ago, the council was struggling with debt and adverse publicity. Mike Pitt,
chief executive of Kent County Council, said that when an organisation is
"packed through with traditional people", it needs the different
attitudes and ideas of "transformational" or
"post-conventional" leaders.

But he
added that as they are emotional, highly creative people who thrive on
"chaos and turbulence" there are problems in managing them.

Pitt’s
comments came at an Employers’ Organisation conference on best value in London
last week. "They do not respond well to authority figures," said
Pitt. "We made the mistake of trying to manage them in conventional ways
and we had a choice.

"Get
rid of them and collapse back into a traditional organisation or change the
style of management. I’ve had to adopt a more relaxed style."

He said this
involved worrying less about what they are doing and focusing more on what they
are achieving.

He said
while HR was not involved in their recruitment, "they helped work through
how we manage and develop the organisation to get the best out of people like
that".

"If
you allow them to be creative they can move everybody on. It is pointless
appointing characters like that if you are not going to give them the space
they need."

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