Expert thinking

Julia discusses leadership with thought leaders and industry trailblazers.

paul blake

We've had the same Companies House registration since 1996, that's something I'm incredibly proud of. In 21 years Newcastle Eagles haven't folded, we haven't crashed. We haven't closed or been re-named. We've managed to succeed in a very challenging industry, in ground breaking space. It's a real achievement for the club.

AnthonyMay 2015

To someone going into leadership today I would say "Detail matters." Get to know your organisation from the bottom up. Ask people their views and use these to describe success and the future. Create a route map from the broad vision to implementation of concrete strategies and action. Do the detail, it matters. Understanding detail enables you to manage performance. There may be some people who are able to lead effectively without doing the detail, but I'm not one of them.


One of the greatest pleasures of being in a particular field for a number of years is you get to know about it, and feel you have something useful to say. In my case, it's leadership - both within and across organisations - with a focus on health and social care.

Jo Cleary was Chair when I became Chief Executive of the Skills Academy. She was excellent; supportive and exacting in equal measure. Without realising it, I was being coached into the role. I was Chief Exec anyway, but became a much better one thanks to her.


Great ideas come from everywhere in the organisation. Its the leader's job to show that you are prepared to listen to them, and hear them.

The biggest misperception people at work have about me is that I have more academic qualifications than I do. I ignored the advice to get a degree and started my career as an apprentice housing manager.


Its important for me to feel I'm making a difference. I know it's a cliche, but that's the reason why we choose to work in public services. I have absolutely no regrets. If I was beginning my career today I would choose to do the same thing. To know that something has changed someone's life for the better, and that I've had something to do with it, is a great feeling.

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Leadership means change, and change is difficult, it takes courage. It’s much easier to let things run as they always have. A good leader recognises the need to rattle cages and stir it up occasionally, and notably has the courage to go ahead and do it.


I see all staff as leaders. I try to inspire others by sharing risk with them, by valuing what they do and not just what I do, and by trying to practice me+you=us as a leadership culture. Some of our strongest programmes have come out of conversations in team meetings and from the most unlikely people.


Inspiring from the front of the room, from the speaker’s space, matters.  But so does being tuned in, and making it clear you are. Without breaching the hierarchies that exist – and they always do, and they’re necessary - knowing when to say thanks, how to express that thanks, how to read whether people are coping or drowning.