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The Manchester Briefing on COVID-19 issue 34: The future of public leadership

The future of public leadership post-Covid-19 comes under the spotlight in the latest issue of the Manchester Briefing.

The Briefing from Alliance Manchester Business School and the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute brings together international lessons for local and national government recovery and renewal in the wake of the pandemic.

In the latest issue Dr Stephen Brookes, Honorary Associate Professor in Public Leadership at the University of Manchester, and Umer Khan, Chief Superintendent at Greater Manchester Police, propose a public value approach for recovery and renewal.

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They conclude that public leaders need to change their mind-sets and behaviours in order to secure the trust and legitimacy necessary to address the consequences of COVID-19 and retain high esteem.

At the same time building community capacity and capability will be critical, and requires an inclusive approach based on “empathy, empowerment and enablement”.

As they write: “Historically, very few health or societal events have developed at the pace or scale of COVID-19. Underestimating the threat appeared to delay the response of some countries, with profound consequences for the world. Workers across the frontline in all agencies need to be educated with clear, consistent messages about risks and how to address them, in order to give certainty, build trust, and prevent resistance to necessary public safety restrictions and enforcement actions.”

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Lessons from Fukushima

Last month marked ten years since an earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated Japan, and this week’s Briefing also looks at how COVID-19, like that disaster, presents both policy makers and the general public with a range of challenges that need to be addressed through recovery and renewal processes.

The briefing explores lessons from the Fukushima recovery that can support and prompt thinking for recovery from COVID-19, one of which is recognising the impacts on mental health.

As the Briefing states: “Fear of exposure to radiation, plus the evacuation itself, created significant psychological distress for those who experienced the events of Fukushima. These have some similarities to the psychological effects of COVID-19: risk to health due to exposure to the virus, isolation from family, friends and critical social support networks, and the uncertain economic conditions caused by the pandemic.”

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Sendai framework

The Manchester Briefing is produced by a team of academics who are developing a new framework which supports partners as they design recovery strategies and renewal initiatives to build resilience.

The project has recently been recognised by UNDRR (United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction), joining the global Sendai Framework Voluntary Commitments initiative for disaster risk reduction. The framework provides specific encouragement to academic, scientific, and research entities in regards to their contribution to disaster risk reduction.

A new webpage promoting the work of the project group has also just been launched.

Download this week's Manchester Briefing on COVID-19 (issue 34)

If you would like to contribute your knowledge to the briefing contact