Frontline fellow, North East

I decided to join the Firstline programme because I had heard very good things about it. Other managers were telling me this wasn’t like anything else they had ever been on and told me that it would really develop my skills. As a new manager I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me to shape my practice.

The programme has predominantly involved me thinking a lot and challenging myself. It has been hard work but very valuable. I have already made changes to the way I practice and the 360-degree feedback has been brilliant in helping me identify areas for development.

Through the programme, I have gained confidence, but also been able to look at myself and decide if I’m completely happy with all of the things I’ve done. This has given me a chance to take a step back and look at my practice, but then given me the support to change certain aspects of my practice like taking more time on written projects and also dealing with difficult issues.

The element of the programme that I most enjoy are the residentials. They are brilliant. Being away from work and not having your work phone with you, in addition to being in a room with other managers feels like a safe space to discuss ideas, issues and be honest about the parts of being a manager that are difficult.

I think the hardest part of the programme has been to keep challenging myself to change the parts of my practice that are bad habits. Constantly keeping these things in mind but having the support to be confident that the changes are for the better.

The programme offers a lot of support during the residentials, but also in the practice development sessions and the sessions with you leadership development advisor. You get coaching, challenge and support all at the same time. In addition to this the programme is keen to put leaders in touch with each other so you get a lot of support and encouragement from your fellow managers.

I think the most rewarding experience was having a fellow manager ring me for encouragement in delivering her public narrative, which is a technique we learnt on the course. Knowing that a fellow manager believed in the programme like I did but also that they would ring me to talk it through felt very good.

The Firstline programme has helped me look at how I manage my staff. It’s helped me identify that whilst I’m good at managing performance I’m not great at interacting with extreme levels of emotions. Knowing this and working on it has led to me being a more supportive manager.

There are many benefits to having other managers at my local authority on the programme. Being with other managers makes the space feel safe. Safe to discuss issues, problems and to know that I’m not the only one! It also gives you the network to bounce ideas off of each other and to support and encourage each other.

Seeing my fellow Firstline leaders who have been on the programme use the skills they have learnt is a key way in which they have been able to influence our local authority more broadly. However, their increased confidence is the biggest difference I’ve seen.