A leadership programme with National Services Scotland

Leadership for Frontline Managers

NSS wanted forum interactive to supplement their Leadership Programme by providing a workshop that explored successful leadership and influencing behaviours which underpin the values of the organisation.

They wanted their staff to be able to:

  • Identify the attitudes and behaviours that can influence difficult conversations related to challenging issues;
  • Identify a range of strategies for engaging in difficult conversations related to sensitive issues that they may be able to use themselves;
  • And feel more confident about addressing challenging issues promptly with assertiveness skills.

The ‘live action scenario’ or forum sessionSafety Leadership and the Failure to Learn

The Leadership attitudes and influencing behaviours are explored using an interactive, ‘live-action’ scenario as a case study. It places the NSS identity in a parallel context of a College undergoing significant change and allows the participants to examine their own values in terms of quality leadership that drives change. The scenario reflects the culture and experience of the NSS and the particular issues it faces relating to the challenging conversations between managers and staff in the organisation.

A facilitator presents two actors who play the Manager and one of his Team Leaders in the College’s centralized Administration Support department .


Background to our story

Robert is under pressure.  His new post as a senior manager was created only 12 months ago and there are high expectations of him from his boss.  While there have been good arguments for the move towards centralised administration support, there has been a lot of resistance from academic and support staff.

Robert has to hit his key targets of reducing errors and achieving a higher standard of service to its internal customers (the Schools and the students).  Above all, the doubters must be convinced before COS2012 (the College Opinion Survey).

Recently, a major hitch has occurred much to Robert’s embarrassment. The wrong date was circulated by Suzie, one of his Team Leaders, about the launch of the new College-wide bookings’ network.

Generally, Robert has found it hard to deal with Suzie who is very opinionated and meets any changes or suggestions with negativity in his team meetings. He wants to be liked as a manager and wants people to get on together in a positive, friendly environment but he needs to adopt a different style and encourage Suzie to realise that her attitude is a problem.

He must have a meeting with her to confront these performance issues. She isn’t a team player, is openly negative and is often impatient with her own staff. She doesn’t take responsibility for errors and doesn’t pay attention to details.


Process and outcomes

The participants are invited to witness the first meeting which Robert has avoided for too long. Unfortunately, his lack of preparation and understanding of his own attitudes and behaviours, results in it going disastrously wrong.

They identify what the problems and issues are and advise Robert how to deal with them. By confronting him, they discuss the range of leadership strategies he needs. In response, the actors improvise in character showing the outcomes of their suggestions. In essence, by speaking and encouraging Robert, they are practicing the positive process and outcomes they are seeking for themselves as leaders in this safe environment.

For more information contact:

Graham Sharrock


+44(0) 7920 207733