As a source of wisdom, the Friday Night Comedy on Radio 4 may not be up there with the usual academic texts, but I was struck by a description of a politician on The Now Show last week. "Politicians are there to set direction and connect with the public". Hugh Dennis then went on to say that politicians shouldn't do detail; that is for Civil Servants. Certainly that is my experience of how the roles divide, having supported Ministers at a range of events when I was a Civil Servant. However, nowadays it is often failures on detail which politicians will be remembered for. Anyone remember Diane Abbott's interview about Labour's plans for increasing the number of police?
The snow last week gave me the opportunity to start thinking about the job description and person specification for our next Vice-Chancellor. The phrase 'set direction and connect with the public' seems to me a very good starting point. Looking at Vice-Chancellor job descriptions from Australia, Canada and the UK, there are, unsurprisingly similarities in the job descriptions. When I review the results of the focus groups and survey we carried out here in February, there are some common themes about the type of person you want to deliver this. That person is very 'values' driven, which I can probably categorise into three main headings:
- Personal standards: integrity, public-service ethos, diversity, transparency in decision making
- Engaging with people: visible, approachable, inclusive, listens
- Leadership perspective: global, working in partnership, entrepreneurial, visionary, confident
We are meeting with the recruitment agents later this week who have the experience of engaging with the market. We will be seeking their advice on how best to position this role to attract the best possible field of candidates and that will come through in the advertising material as well as the job description and person specification.
If anyone has other choices of Radio 4 programmes which will help this search, do let me know. I'm always looking for new podcasts to listen to on the daily commute.