Des Prichard, CFOA Director of People and Organisational Development, talks about the Cross Sector Leadership Exchange.


The Chief Fire Officers Association has been in discussion of late with other organisations in health, police, prisons, probation, local government and the voluntary sector at what is known as the Cross Sector Leadership Exchange.   

The Cross Sector Leadership Exchange is a consortium of senior leaders who are responsible for the development of the leaders within theirorganisations. Its purpose is to act as an exchange network between sectors that supports middle, senior and top leadership development.


Developing Future Leaders   

The aim of the exchange is to promote awareness and understanding of how organisations are progressing the development of their future leaders, to look at what can be shared in terms of learning and development opportunities between organisations and to extend understanding beyond the public sector.

One key initiative the consortium is keen to get started is to develop opportunities for leaders from one sector, to exchange with leaders from another sector. Exchanges may be for a little as one day or may be longer, depending on the individuals, their opportunity to exchange and the learning and development that each individual is seeking to benefit from.

I have been involved with the consortium in my role as CFOA Director for People and Organisational Development and it is my belief that there are many benefits both for individuals and organisations to be gained from participating in leadership exchanges.  There is scope for development in terms of knowledge, skills, relationships, abilities and experience. Individuals who participate get the opportunity to engage with a broader range of views, ideas, and perspectives.    

In these times of economic downturn there is a greater need than ever for us to think innovatively and the concept of exchange can support thecross-fertilisation of ideas, roles, and resources. We can all learn from each other and by widening our horizons outside of our own service, individuals can get the opportunity to look at some of the challenges we face from a different viewpoint.  


Exchange Mechanism   

CFOA has agreed to host the exchange mechanism for our Service on the CFOA website. In the first instance, the exchange scheme will be open only to CFOA members but there is scope for future development to widen this initiative in time. Very simply, any CFOA member who would wish to be involved in the exchange will be asked to outline areas of interest and give some detail on how they would seek to benefit from an exchange opportunity.

These details will be posted on the CFOA website and will be made publicly available.   Colleagues from other sectors would then be able to access the website, click in to the Leadership Exchange section and select a potential exchange partner. It would then be up to the individuals involved to agree any exchange.

I believe that this initiative presents us with a great opportunity for the continuing personal development of both current FRS leaders and the leaders of the future. Exchanging views and ideas, sharing and learning is crucial to ensure a healthy future for our Service. It is too easy to see ourselves as 'different' and 'unique'. There is much to be gained from learning how other organisations deal with some of the challenges we face on a daily basis.


Password to Sharing   

It is very early days for the scheme which is being made available through the new CFOA website at If you are interested in taking part in the Leadership Exchange, Anna McDonnell, Membership Officer at CFOA HQ in Tamworth will be happy to guide you through the registration process.  

The CFOA website has been refreshed as part of the CFOA re-branding project. Anyone serving within a subscribing UK fire and rescue service can access the website. It is not just for CFOA members. If you have not already done so, it is easy to set up an account from an FRS email address. You will be issued with a password, which you can personalise, and then you will have access to all sorts of sharing and learning.  

Take a look at our library of notable practice. It is all there for you to learn from what is going on out there in our Service. No point in re-inventing the wheel if someone else out there has done the hard work for you. By the same token, if you are part of any particularly successful and innovative project within your service and you would like to share your learning with others then please get in touch with the communications team at CFOA HQ. Amy Rawlins and Jackie Findlay would love to hear from you.

Through exchanging ideas, both we as individuals and our services as a whole will benefit. Do not sit on the sidelines - join in. Let us share and learn and continue to improve together.