The NHS is a large complex system, with a multitude of services that have to be delivered alongside a range of competing priorities that have to be managed such as engaging the public and patients in shaping local services, delivering national policy requirements, improving organisational performance and productivity, working across boundaries with partners, innovating and developing high quality care for service users and patients and actively engaging staff in generating the ways in which all of this can be achieved.
When current health service reforms - arguably the most radical and demanding organisational development challenge that has been tackled by the NHS - are added to this context, then this places enormous demands and expectations on those people leading the NHS. Today's NHS leaders - whether they are a GP, Clinical Director, Head of Service, Chief Executive, Executive Director or General or Service Manager, have to enable and empower their staff to adapt to, and to be capable of working in, a rapidly changing, unpredictable environment.
At HSMC, leadership is not seen as an isolated set of attributes and competencies possessed by charismatic hero-figures, but as a highly contextualised activity, embedded in the leader's place of work, involving multiple constituencies and an approach that is contextual, inclusive and collective and which reflects the relational, distributed, emotional and ethical dimensions of leading.
Our approach to developing effective leaders therefore is to see it as a component of developing effective teams and organisations; at times we work intensively with individual skills, aspirations and behaviours; sometimes our focus is on design and delivery of development activities; at other times we support teams, whole organisations or systems as they lead people through change. The central focus however, is always to explore why and how service users' and patients' experiences can be improved and enhanced and staff can be mobilized to do their best.
HSMC's Leadership and Organisational Development Programme of work spans research, teaching and development programmes.
Deborah Davidson, Iain Snelling, Robin Miller and Martin Powell