As their first week in office begins, the six new metro mayors who were elected last Thursday now need to turn their manifesto promises into reality. As we’ve noted previously, the skills politicians need to govern effectively are very different to those needed on the campaign trail.
To be effective, there are five skills these new mayors will need to use:
- Prioritise. As we found in our Ministers Reflect series, effective political leaders are those who “have a small number of clear objectives and pursue them” rather than letting the ‘machine’ take over, or becoming distracted by external events. Many of the new mayors campaigned on a wide range of issues (including some that they don’t yet have powers over). They now need to prioritise so that they can best use their relatively short terms in office.
- Work effectively with their combined authority. The mayor’s offices themselves will be small, but sat behind these will be the much larger combined authorities. The new mayors need to build good relationships, not only with their immediate and small teams, but with their combined authority if they want to get things done.
- Work collaboratively with other local politicians. To get the best for their city regions, the new mayors will need to work well with local MPs in their patch and the leaders of the local councils within their areas so that they are singing from the same hymn sheet. They also need productive relationships with those who are responsible for scrutinising them and holding them to account.
- Use their soft power. This means using their high profiles to advocate for their regions and will probably involve arguing for more powers from central government. It will also mean bringing local public service leaders together to join up health and social care in Greater Manchester and the employment and skills system in all of the mayoral areas.
- Learn from other mayors from around the world. There are some great examples of mayors around the world making a real difference to their cities that the new metro mayors can learn from. For example, we’ve looked at the case of Martin O’Malley, who as Mayor of Baltimore oversaw a big fall in the city’s murder rate and sought to improve public services through his open data programmes.