Hello PPMA members and friends

Ian Thomas CBE is the highly regarded Chief Executive at The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames Council and is one of the Keynote speakers at #PPMAHR22 in Manchester. As a taster ahead of his session on 15:45 on Wednesday 27th April, here’s a blog post he wrote on teamwork:-

“I shared this post some time ago (Autumn 2021) to highlight the many successes that great teamwork can bring:

I want to talk about teamwork…,

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”

This is one of my very favourite quotes by Isaac Newton because it epitomises why teams are successful. Successful teams understand the importance of relationships both within their structure & external to it.

Our leader, Councillor Caroline Kerr accepted the award for the Royal Borough of Kingston, as the top senior leadership team 2020 because in our ‘authorising environment’, it is members who are creating the conditions for excellence throughout our organisation. They have been clear with me that the Royal Borough of Kingston should be an outward looking & ambitious organisation, that pushes the boundaries of expectation, despite having limited resources & having to lead the borough through the most prodigious public health crisis any of us have ever seen.

Our success in Kingston is founded on principles many would describe as trite. However, behaviours unique to our council are our STAR values, which were developed by around 700 of our staff & why my opening quote above is so apposite. STAR represents: Supporting each other; Transparency; Appreciating each other & Respecting one another.

These values help us to be more effective both within teams, across teams & beyond, into the multifarious partnerships that make Kingston a great place. We then overlay the STAR framework by putting the theory of ‘distributed leadership’ into practice.

‘Distributed leadership is primarily concerned with the practice of leadership rather than specific leadership roles or responsibilities. It equates with shared, collective & extended leadership practice…creating the opportunities for others to lead’.

This means being unselfish in the leadership space & what I call, leading by letting go. The strength is in our collective endeavour & this, together with ‘systems thinking’ ensures that we work together with our incredible partners to deliver the best for our stakeholders in Kingston.

This has led to some amazing outcomes such as outstanding education & social care, transformed libraries, excellent bereavement services, an excellent response to the pandemic – protecting our NHS & driving an exciting heritage-led regeneration agenda that will bring with it 000s of high quality jobs & apprenticeships, much needed social & affordable homes, new leisure facilities & investment in the public realm, promoting our historic & natural assets.

At the core of this work is our ‘state of climate emergency’ & we are proud to be developing schemes that are more sustainable, which will complement our work on developing green energy with Thames Water, installing electric vehicle charging points & planting 2,000 new trees.

We aren’t perfect though & like all humans we make mistakes, which is fine – we learn from them.

As Barry Quirk reminded us all at the LGC Summit last week, ‘perfection doesn’t exist’ – my adjunct to this is, best in class does!”

Ian Thomas, Chief Executive, Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames

If you’d like to read more from Ian, here are links to some other posts:




If you would like to come along and hear Ian’s session at #PPMAHR22 then find out more and book your place: www.ppma.org.uk/ppma-conference-2022/

We look forward to seeing you there.