The role

  • Director Direct Services (Salary - c£91k)

Sheffield City Council’s chief executive Kate Josephs has been in post for just over half a year, but she already has a strong plan in place – set out in the council’s recently published One Year Plan – to get the council back on track post pandemic. The former civil servant is passionate about her city and, alongside the new leader Cllr Terry Fox and the Labour-Green Co-operative Executive in power since the May elections she is determined to help Sheffield bounce back from COVID and the strains that has inflicted on the city.

Ms Josephs says, ‘We’re emerging from a horrific pandemic, we have a new leader and administration and we are thinking differently about how we want to approach the next phase of our development as a council and a city, coming out of COVID.’ Despite the difficulties that a global pandemic has thrown at the city, it has given Sheffield a ‘new sense of focus and direction’ that has been articulated in the one-year plan. ‘It is a really important statement on what is going to be prioritised. We are focusing on a forward-thinking sustainability agenda and we are determined to take action on the climate and biodiversity emergencies,’

Ms Josephs says. ‘We are ambitious for economic growth and determined to make sure that growth is inclusive, supporting thriving communities across the city’ ‘We have a renewed and refreshed inclusion agenda, and we really want to celebrate all the diverse communities that exist here in Sheffield, and to put people in our communities at the heart of everything we do.’ Part of the plan is to launch an ambitious programme of devolved decision making – and the associated funding – down to communities within the city through a series of new Local Area Committees.

‘We are determined to think about how we engage, empower and enable our communities. That flows through the One Year Plan like a stick of rock. It is the inclusive approach we have to emerging from the pandemic,’ the chief executive says. ‘We recognise that we need leadership capacity if we are going to deliver on the massive ambitions that we have,’ she adds.

As a result, the council has launched a recruitment drive, looking to fill two executive director posts – one for city futures and one for place operational services – and a raft of director roles. But rather than a restructure prompted by a new boss, this is more about filling long-term vacancies and bolstering the capacity of what has traditionally been a very lean team. Culturally, in terms of the leadership approach, there has also been a change. ‘I am a passionate believer in collective leadership. All our senior people need to be part of the leadership team for the entire organisation,’ Ms Josephs explains. She says she has put in place more transparency and accountability for the senior management team, and re-engineered the governance so all directors are involved, rather than ‘a small team of the most senior directors and myself making decisions in a room’.

‘It is much more open – and that’s partly about making sure we have a diverse range of voices around the table. My view is that, as leaders, we all have great strengths but none of us is complete. That strength of leadership comes from a team.’ That team, she says, needs diversity in order to thrive. She says: ‘We are not currently representative of the communities we serve – Sheffield is an incredibly diverse city but you would not know that from looking at our top team. We can’t transform the organisation without seriously looking at our diversity.’

When it comes to her own management style, Ms Josephs says: ‘My goal is to be an empowering, inclusive leader and avoid the traditional default to command and control.’ She says she has spent ‘at least half my career’ in national governments, both here and in the US, focused on getting departments to work across boundaries, in an outcome-based way – breaking down the silos of organisations. She has carried that commitment to joined-up working with her to Sheffield.

The successful appointees will come into a really motivated team, with a fresh approach to thinking about how they are working. ‘We are very much focused on that collective leadership, thinking about how we operate as part of the systems in the city – and we have a big commitment to leadership development.’ She adds: ‘You will be held to account, you will be expected to deliver, but you’ll be supported and coached to do that as part of a team.’

Empowerment is not just for the leadership team – it will spread out across the city. She says: ‘There will be a real focus on how we empower and engage citizens with humility. That’s what I’m here to do as a chief executive – that was my pitch for the job and that is what I am going to do. ‘It’s a great city with incredible history and heritage and it needs a team that is ambitious for the council, and for the city.’

‘Sheffield has been hiding its light under a bushel a bit, and we are absolutely determined to step out from that as a city. We’ve got incredible things happening here. We’ve got ambition,’ Ms Josephs says. ‘We need to be an organisation that is capable and fit for purpose in terms of the scale of the challenge we are facing and the ambition we have.’

To download the individual job profile for the role, please click on the attached links

We are committed to fairness and social justice and welcome applications from everyone. We value our diverse workforce and aim to work together to make the most of our differences. Under the Disability Confident Scheme, disabled applicants, who meet the essential criteria of this job, are guaranteed an interview. We particularly welcome Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic and disabled people to apply for this job,  as they are under-represented in this service.