In the complex cobweb of public sector organizational structures, the need to tackle intricate societal problems set the context for a new direction in leadership studies, one that enables the achievement of policy goals by creating collaborative capabilities. In the policy area of children and young people, Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) can allow leadership to manifest itself through a number of media. First, the local authority is the statutory designated leader of this partnership in the local community. Second, the representatives of agencies with a duty to cooperate on children’s issues are themselves leaders of their organizations’ resources and commitment to the partnership’s goal. Third, in the light of unprecedented complexity in policy making, getting things done often depends on the leadership capabilities of people and of organizations to work with the tension between multiple sets of professional, organizational and sectoral values. Although, in theory, leadership should be an important element of inter-agency working, essentially being about making things happen beyond usual institutional constraints, in reality however, empirical findings have shown that leadership in LSCBs is systematically inhibited, hence endangering the outcomes of collaborative, inter-professional and inter-organizational work. The article concludes with the paradox of public servants demonstrating leadership in inter-organizational settings while remaining an impersonal administrator subjected to tight public scrutiny. The article seeks to make a contribution to the public policy and management field in general and to that of collaborative management in particular. To this end, the existing developments in the leadership literature have been used to shed light on one case study of one of the more controversial partnerships in the British public sector: LSCBs
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