Suggested ways to build your leadership skills.

Specific areas for development include: inspiring your team, being confident in your engagement and empowering teams to deliver

This list is not exhaustive and should be used in conjunction with discussions with your line manager about your professional development plan (PDP). You should also look at what is on offer from Civil Service Learning and any professional body that you belong too.

All GCS courses and PRCA webinars are available for free to GCS members. Book a course.

Reading list

Book: ‘Leaders Eat Last: Why some teams pull together and others don’t’ by Simon Sinek
The follow up to Sinek’s bestseller ‘Start with why’. An investigation into how leaders can inspire their people with a ‘circle of safety’.

Book: ‘Lean In: Women work and the will to Lead’ by Sheryl Sandberg
Learning to ‘lean in’ is about tackling the anxieties and preconceptions that stop women reaching the top.

Book: ‘Coaching for performance’ by John Whitmore
A simple to understand yet powerful guide to coaching.

Book: ‘No Hard Feelings: Emotions at Work and How They Help Us Succeed’ by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy
In this book Fosslien and West Duffy help you figure out which emotions to toss, which to keep to yourself, and which to express in order to be both happier and more effective.

Book: ‘Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most’ by by Bruce Patton, Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen
Difficult Conversations is the definitive work on handling these unpleasant exchanges, based on 15 years of research at the Harvard Negotiation Project.

Book: ‘HBR 10 must reads on leadership’ by Harvard Business Review
A compilation of the most important leadership articles to help you maximise your own and your organisation’s performance.

Book: ‘Grit: The power of passion and perseverance’ by Angela Duckworth
Pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed that the secret to outstanding achievement is not just talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”

Book: ‘Leadership’ by Rudolph Giuliani
Former Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani’s account of his time in office. Includes his experience about revitalizing the economy, reducing crime and his approach to policing, and his experience and response to the immediate aftermath of 9/11.


Animation: ‘The 7 habits of highly effective people: Powerful lessons in personal change’ by Stephen Covey.  
After studying the habits of successful people for over 25 years, Covey realised that there 7 habits that are practiced by the most effective people. This video summarises the habits into 7 simple animated examples. 

Talk: ‘Why Leaders Eat Last’ by Simon Senek
An indepth lecture exploring the themes in Sinek’s book ‘Leaders Eat Last’ focusing on building trust.

TED Talk: ‘Bring your whole self to work’ by Mike Robbins
Mike Robbins challenges everyone to bring your whole, complete being to work.

Lecture: ‘The strategic leader in a VUCA World’ by Greg Bunch
In this lecture, Greg Bunch considers how leaders lead in an increasingly volatile world.

Animation: ‘How to master anything: PEAK’ by Anders Ericsson
In this animation based on Anders Ericsson’s 10,000 hours book learn about the importance of deliberate practice on the path to becoming an expert.

Talk: ‘Why should anyone be led by you?’ by Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones
Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones discuss the CASE framework –  a central element of Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?™


GCS Aspire courses are scheduled throughout the year, book a course.

E-Learning Course: Unconscious bias
This hour-long course helps you to understand unconscious bias and how it affects attitudes and behaviours. You learn practical techniques that will help you reduce the impact of unconscious bias and so, ultimately, create a more inclusive and diverse team.

GCS Aspire course: Presenting with Impact
This course will investigate your own strengths and weaknesses when presenting to increase your awareness of how you come across. You will explore tools and techniques to enable you to hone and develop your skills and to be able to adapt your presentation style as appropriate for different audiences.

GCS Aspire Course: Future Engage Deliver – Leaders in communications masterclass
This GCS tailored leadership masterclass aims to inspire communications professionals to deliver more efficiently through better engagement and empowerment.

Do (advanced practitioner)

GCS Aspire courses are scheduled throughout the year, book a course.

GCS Aspire Course: Empowering Leadership – Creating a Team of Leaders
In this webinar we’ll explore what empowerment means and how you can make it work for your team.  You’ll learn how to develop your leadership skills to create a high-performing team of leaders while understanding the pitfalls to avoid on your way to a truly empowered team.

GCS Aspire Course: Resilience – Building personal and professional resilience in an ever-changing world.
Our webinar considers the concept of resilience through a historical and modern day lens and explores the different pressures, challenges and opportunities that arise during periods of stress and uncertainty. Based on academic research and the experiences of respected leaders, it provides practical advice to help develop skills to build resilience both personally and professionally, within teams and organisations.


Share what you have learnt with those you work with so that we can all continuously improve and if you come across other great sources of learning to read, watch or do, tell us. Finally, once you are a confident leader, contact us at gcs@cabinetoffice.gov.uk so that you can help others build their skills.

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