This issue of leadership hasn’t been out of the news over the last few months, from the Labour party electing Jeremy Corbyn and from a sporting perspective, the Rugby World Cup. Every organisation, team or political party needs someone to inspire, unite and empower people to achieve great things. Saturday saw the New Zealand captain Ritchie McCaw once again lead his team to the summit of world rugby. More time will be needed to judge the success of Jeremy Corbyn.
What is clear, is that we all have our own ideas about what makes a great leader, be this people we have worked with, or those we know from history. Jeremy Corbyn certainly inspired the majority of Labour members to vote for him, but how will he the bridge the divide within his party? He certainly has his work cut out. And so too within the NHS, the leadership challenge is significant. We need to inspire to drive up the quality of care, empower to deliver the government reforms and unite to make significant productivity gains.
Highly effective transformational leaders need to possess a number of important traits, such as the ability to inspire and motivate, communicate, be open and honest and courageous. However, to meet the NHS challenges, individuals and organisations need to rethink the way in which power and responsibility are shared within teams and organisations and across health and social care.
A police commissioner in the New York City Police Department, demonstrated that leadership doesn’t lie in one single figure; everyone has a role to lead. Bill Bratton took a city police department with a high crime rate, limited resources and turned it into one of the safest cities within two years. His “distributed” approach to leadership filtered through the team. The New Zealand All Blacks have a similar leadership mantra- “learn to pass the ball”. While a core skill of rugby is the ability to pass a rugby ball accurately, this phrase also encapsulates their philosophy to encourage each player to make smart, tactical leadership decisions on the pitch. The power of the approach is that it’s everyone’s responsibility to lead by example, taking responsibility for their part in the change. It’s this distributed approach that will create the tipping point, where change will happen and improvement can be seen..
NHS leaders need to galvanise people to action, empowering others to follow and lead. Leaders need to nurture their followers, treat them as equals and empower them to let the journey be about the movement and not themselves. Leaders need to be easy to follow, but more importantly they need to let go and let the followers lead- that’s what will create the change – that’s how the lone nut will create a social movement
The Healthcare Leadership Model (HLM) is the national framework describing the leadership skills and behaviours expected of leaders across the NHS
Leading Large Scale Change: A practical guide The guide provides principles you can apply within your own health and healthcare setting. The guide is closely aligned to the Change Model.