Future leadership development

HSMC carried out a study of leadership and management development activity for Birmingham and Black Country Strategic Health Authority. The study was designed to establish baseline information about current and recent leadership and management activity for Board level top teams and for middle managers in NHS Trusts and PCTs. It also gathered information about unmet needs in these groups, and how the SHA might help to meet them.

While a wide range of activity was identified, a number of issues emerged, including a widespread feeling that current provision for the majority of middle managers is too insular, providing insufficient opportunity to learn with colleagues from other organisations and sectors. There are also sometimes limited opportunities to embed new knowledge and skills in the workplace. For top teams in both PCTs and Trusts there also appeared to be a gap in cross-organisational and cross-boundary development activity.

Middle managers themselves reported a number of barriers to accessing learning and development, notably the difficulty of obtaining release from operational duties and imperatives. They expressed a preference for personally-led approaches to learning, incorporating diverse methods (learning sets, shadowing, project work, simulations) and building learning around real work tasks.

A number of quite diverse specific needs for leadership and management development were identified, though skills and knowledge connected to the NHS change agenda were a consistent theme. The study identified many ways in which the SHA could take action to meet these needs, and highlighted the relevance of the Leading Modernisation model*, created by the Modernisation Agency, which emphasises the importance of linking the development of managers and leaders with the service improvement and reform agendas.

The Strategic Health Authority is now working on a strategy to respond to the needs and opportunities identified.

Date: 2003
Researcher: Juliet Woodin
Funder: Birmingham and Black Country Strategic Health Authority