Being humble

What happens if you don't have enough of either?

Today we have a guest post from someone who has simply done a better job of tackling this topic than we could. We hope you agree.

If you too would like to submit a piece please drop us a line at but not before you’ve read this:

As a parent, I know that the day will come when my children will be better at something than I was, as the day came when I was better than my parents: it’s just that I hoped that my children would be out of the infants before it happened.

I have a confession here: I have never been able to whistle.  I am very pleased that this has never featured on a competency based job description or person specification as I might have had to write something like “whistling is an area of development for me, particularly when contrasted with humming, which is a particular strength of mine and more than compensates for any whistling related deficiencies”.

Miss Guest Blogger, perhaps aided by some teeth falling out, has found out that she can whistle, and is practising hard at it.  She was even more delighted when she found out that I was unable to whistle, and encouraged me to try a little harder “come on Dad” she says “you just need to practice a little”.  I am entirely comfortable in saying that I am unable to whistle and that there are many other people who can whistle better than me.

It got me thinking: when do you hear people in Local Government saying “you know, we can’t do that, we are no good at it and we should get somebody else to do it”? Or how about: ‘I think on balance I’m not the right person for this exciting opportunity’.

Very rarely is my answer by the way.

This applies equally within our Councils as much as it does outside of Local Government.

In all of the restructures that are taking place at the moment, the times when somebody identifies a service that should be delivered by somebody else because they can do it better are few and far between.

It gets magnified when we talk about other organisations providing our services. (note reference to our services mind you).

“They couldn’t possibly do X as well as we do“ despite significant evidence to the contrary.  I can understand people taking pride in their work, and I am all for that, but it needs to be informed and understood pride, based on a true picture of what is happening.

There may be people better placed to do what we do, and the recent Open Public Services White Paper will provide more organisations with more possibilities to run ‘our’ services.  I suspect that we might not be ready for that leap.  Humility is a virtue, and one that is under rated.  Developing a humble approach to our abilities (and believe me I cannot whistle) and understanding our own limitations and the possibilities of others might be a good place to start.

Welovelocalgovernment is a blog written by UK local government officers. If you have a piece you’d like to submit or any comments you’d like to make please drop us a line at:

Explore posts in the same categories: The future of Local Govt, We love the Council

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One Comment on “Being humble”

  1. Nick Hart Says:

    The salaries and bonuses of senior public-sector managers are closely linked to the size of the budgets they control. These people will never give up a penny of a spending portfolio, or allow anyone else to do the job, while this situation is allowed to continue.

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