Ministerial Introduction to the Public Leaders Report 2021

The Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office, Julia Lopez MP, introduces the Public Leaders Report 2021, recognising the vital role the public sector has played during the pandemic and what we all can learn.


Being a public service leader at the frontline of delivery during COVID-19 has involved great challenge and adaptation in crisis. So I would like personally to thank every public service leader for the vital role you’ve played in helping our country through the pandemic.

This has been a defining year for the public sector. The scale, challenge, and complexity of COVID has been unprecedented.
It has forced change at an incredible pace and brought organisations, teams and people together across the country to deliver services such as vaccinations and education.

Through candid interviews with over 20 public sector leaders working at the frontline, the Public Leaders Report from the National Leadership Centre shows what leaders have delivered for our communities through innovation and new forms of partnership.

For example, we hear that the London Ambulance Service created new relationships with the London Fire Brigade and the Metropolitan Police, forming a single team to drive ambulances and provide life saving services across the city.

And members of the armed forces – who have years of training and frontline experience of dealing with high-pressure situations – formed 130 mentoring relationships with NHS leaders on effective crisis management.

And we learn about the work of HM Courts and Tribunals Service to set up the temporary ‘Nightingale courts’ to increase capacity, in venues such as universities, theatres and football stadia.

There is a great deal we can learn from the insights and examples of resourcefulness, resilience, and collaboration featured in this report. They help us understand the right conditions for success in public delivery at the frontline.

A spirit of creative team working across different parts of the public sector comes across as a theme in all the leaders’ stories – as well as the importance of supporting their own and their teams’ wellbeing during immensely difficult time

As we look ahead, the National Leadership Centre will adapt its work to support public leaders’ needs, helping them to take forward the best of what we’ve learned about effective leadership behaviours and cross-sector collaboration.

Specifically, it will refresh its leadership programmes, expand its networking opportunities, and pilot a new public sector CEO connection scheme to build knowledge and relationships among small groups of leaders.

This Report shares some powerful stories and inspirational initiatives from which we can all learn. They make me proud of our brilliant public services, their dedicated staff and their outstanding leaders at all levels.

Read the full Public Leaders Report: Foreword from the Chair · Supporting the NHS in its hour of need · Collaborating places · Extraordinary resilience and service · What do we know about public sector leaders · Looking ahead to 2022