How does one lead a whole city?

Leeds City Chief Executive Tom Riordan explains to us in our Leadership Video Series Interview (video link), the challenges and complexities of leading a whole city.

Tom affirms that, in contrast with a business or organisation, a city doesn’t have one singular linear relationship in an specific industry or sector. It relies on a complex set of actors and actresses working together to achieve its objectives.

Leadership in this context should be more about selling than telling. Tom believes that some of the differences between leadership and management are overrated as most of the top roles in any organisation will involve both. Leadership is about setting direction, setting strategy, and the culture of the place.

He also describes how Leeds can become the best city to live in the UK and what that entails in practical terms. It starts by determining what is ‘best’ and how that sits with our identity as a city. According to Tom, it’s a permissive vision which eventually will allow us to become the best we can be without trying to mimic London or any other city in the world.

On the Northern Powerhouse, Tom strongly advocates we can be greater and more relevant if we all work together with other regions such as Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool and Sheffield to improve the quality of living and services as well as attracting more foreign investments from China, the US and other parts in levels we haven’t seen yet. We should each focus on our strengths knowing that the whole is stronger than the individual parts.

“Leeds is also a child friendly city. We have one of the best children social care in the country.”

“One in seven people in Leeds are students and we need to be able to capitalise on this aspect working close to our universities, using the alumni network and our world-class expertise to get more businesses starting in the city and enabling those already here to become more innovative.”

“We want to have a strong economy but also we want to be a compassionate city.”

“Don’t wait to lead, you can lead in your own way, you can be an advocate for those who don’t have a voice”

– Tom Riordan.

(Watch the full video by clicking on the image below or the link above)

tom-riordan

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