Public Leadership – the transformational leader of GM Fire Service

25 Jul

Steve McGuirk chief executive of the GM Fire Service has shown transformational leadership over the past five years,
he has have managed to sustain front-line services, improve relationships and cuts the budget by 25%. This the service most people respect yet the service the press ridicule most. There has been a quiet revolution in the Fire Service on his ‘watch’.

He reports that the task wasn’t easy and he has received a far amount of venom thrown at him for reducing the number of senior managers from 20 to 6 and being straight with the trade unions about what is possible and how to protect the front-line and working with AGMA local authorities.

“The reality is that leadership takes hard-bark, perseverance and resilience – we have reduced sickness from 16 to 5 shifts and some people are to go – the focus is on the service and preventing fires not just putting them out’. ” what I have learnt is that you do need to think about things and then do them. ” Just doing is not enough leaders are paid to think about what to do not just carry on in the same old way.”

It is interesting that Fire and Ambulance Services are invisible within public sector reform stories- yet many across the country have done great work as developing services and staff – they are not protected services like the police or the Armed Forces and have been subject to savage cuts. Steve predicts they will have to find another 30% reductions over the next couple of years.

The fact that leaders from these services are not central to place-shaping is a mistake – in Yorkshire and Humber every year at the LGYH Innovation Awards the Fire Services often win prizes for community engagement and their apprentice schemes.

Transformational leaders are too often hidden in the public sector – and many like Steve McGuirk have a lot to say not just about transforming services when under financial pressure but also in designing new public governance systems.

I am working on the role of leadership in creating and designing new, local public systems and interested in examples of where tranformative leaders are working together to forge more innovative governance systems….


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