Suggested ways to build your leadership skills.

The leadership areas for development include, for example, inspiring your team, being confident in your engagement and empowering teams to deliver.

Use this information to discuss your professional development plan (PDP) with your line manager. You should also look at what is on offer from Civil Service Learning and any professional body that you belong too.

All our courses and Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) webinars are available for free to GCS members.

Read (introductory)

One or more of the following titles to gain a better understanding of leadership:

  • The COVID-19 Leadership guide. Korn Ferry has assembled the practical guidance and strategies you need to steer your organization through this emergency.
  • Article: The Coronavirus Leadership Challenge (Korn Ferry) (PDF) explains why leaders must rely on agility, transparency and forward-thinking strategies to steer their organisations effectively through the COVID-19 crisis.
  • ‘Storynomics: Story-Driven Marketing in the Post-Advertising World’ by Robert McKee and Thomas Gerace
    Translates the lessons of storytelling in business into economic and leadership success.
  • ‘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’.
  • ‘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.
  • ‘Coaching for performance’ by John Whitmore
    A simple to understand yet powerful guide to coaching.
  • ‘No Hard Feelings: Emotions at Work and How They Help Us Succeed’ by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy
    To 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.

Read (advanced)

  • ‘Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most’ 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.
  • ‘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.
  • ‘Grit: The power of passion and perseverance’ by Angela Duckworth
    This pioneering psychologist 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.”
  • ‘Leadership’ by Rudolph Giuliani
    Former Mayor of New York City’s account of his time in office. Includes his experience about revitalising the economy, reducing crime and his approach to policing, and his experience and response to the immediate aftermath of 9/11.
  • ‘Emotional agility: get unstuck, embrace change and thrive in work and life’ by Susan David
    Drawing on her deep research, decades of international consulting, and her own experience overcoming adversity after losing her father at a young age, David shows how anyone can thrive in an uncertain world by becoming more emotionally agile.


The 7 habits of highly effective people

After studying the habits of successful people for over 25 years, Stephen Covey realised that there are 7 habits that are practiced by the most effective people. This video summarises the habits into 7 examples.
Watch: The 7 habits of highly effective people

Why Leaders Eat Last

An in-depth lecture exploring the themes in Simon Sinek’s book ‘Leaders Eat Last’ focusing on building trust.
Watch: Why Leaders Eat Last

TED Talk: ‘Bring your whole self to work’

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

Watch (advanced)

The strategic leader in a VUCA World

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

How to master anything: PEAK

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.
Watch: How to master anything: PEAK

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?™
Watch: Why should anyone be led by you?


Leadership Academy

The Leadership Academy holds regular learning events for civil servants: Learning events calendar

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. This course is available on Civil Service learning.

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 courses are scheduled throughout the year, check which courses are currently available and book.


Share what you have learned with those you work with so that we can all continue to improve. 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.