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New free MOOC in public leadership

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With public leadership under more scrutiny and pressure than ever before, whether that leadership is by politicians, public servants or community activists, the new free MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) An Introduction to Public Leadership from The Open University Business School (OUBS), on the FutureLearn social learning platform is a new asset to help leaders and aspiring leaders. The MOOC gives learners the chance to understand more about leadership, what is distinctive about leadership in the public sphere, political astuteness and how to create public value in this distinct sector.

The course launches on 12 September 2016 and involves 12 hours study over 3 weeks. It can be taken by anyone, anywhere, for free. The course explores the importance of leadership for organisations, communities and civil and political bodies involved in the development and delivery of any area of public service. The course helps learners gain skills in leading change, handling conflict and working in collaboration – all tailored to the public service context.

OUBS has an international reputation in public leadership with its Public Leadership and Social Enterprise Department; the Public Leadership Perspectives open events on key issues in public leadership; the Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership; and the Centre for Policing Research and Learning.

Working to enhance the public sphere brings a unique set of challenges to leaders and managers – not least recognising and generating public value, working with the public, and helping guide organisations through change. OUBS has a strong track record of innovation in developing the skills and knowledge of public leaders, and it is this experience and expertise we bring to the MOOC. This course presents an exciting opportunity for those working in and around the public sphere to boost their skills and knowledge whilst in the workplace.

Jean Hartley
Professor of Public Leadership

Dr Steven Chase, Director of People at Thames Valley Police, and Chair of the Policing Consortium between the OU and 16 police forces, said:

With increasing pressures on public services, how we train and develop the next generation of public leaders and how we enhance the skills of those already serving in leadership roles is crucial. This MOOC is valuable because it combines academic and public leader perspectives, and because the learner can study this course anywhere and on any type of device during the 3 week period of the MOOC. I know this course is being promoted by a number of learning and development departments in policing and I would encourage other public services also support it.

Dr Steven Chase
Director of People at Thames Valley Police, and Chair of the Policing Consortium

The MOOC illustrates some of the challenges and skills of public leadership through a number of interviews with police leaders and includes a detailed study of how to lead change in relation to alcohol misuse in night-time city centres.  Many of the issues facing policing - working with elected and appointed politicians, working with partners, leading high performing teams, addressing accountability for public services or leading in situations where conflict is present - are all relevant to a range of leaders who aim to shape public services and public governance.

Policing leadership has traditionally been associated with “command and control” leadership. While that can still be important in some circumstances, the MOOC shows how a range of leadership approaches are now needed and are being used by the police, and the course explores why different leadership approaches are called for and how to develop. This is highly relevant for other public services, and for those in public governance leadership roles (such as elected politicians, school governors).