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New report explores the skills needed to lead an arm’s-length body


Nous Group has released a major new report into the competencies required by leaders of arm’s-length bodies (ALBs) in the United Kingdom to help them to navigate the challenges of the role.

The report, “The CEO in government: Leading ALBs well”, is the first of its kind. The report was commissioned by the Association of Chief Executives (ACE), an independent organisation that seeks to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the delivery of UK public services.

The UK has more than 400 ALBs that between them employ about 85,000 people. The organisations deliver public services as diverse as preserving national parks, issuing driving licences, supporting fair business practices, ensuring the integrity of elections and providing geospatial data.

The Nous-ACE report brings together insights from more than 30 interviews and more than 30 survey responses from current and former ALB CEOs, board members and associated experts.

The report identifies the core competencies required of CEOs at arm’s-length bodies: policy leadership skills, corporate leadership skills, sector leadership skills and personal characteristics.

Different groups can use this competency framework and the associated commentary to increase their chances of becoming a CEO, to critically analyse their performance as an ALB leader or to better support the CEOs with whom they work.

The report was prepared by Nous Principal Peter Horne and Senior Consultant Nic Dillon.

“We expect that aspirant CEOs, boards and others will find the conclusions informative and will guide their practice,” Peter said. “The CEOs clearly find their role rewarding – so a greater diversity of applicants would be welcome.”

The report will be launched at a seminar with more than 30 CEOs.


Read the full report “The CEO in government: Leading ALBs well”:

Download full paper

Published on 23 September 2020.

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