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Leading on a grand scale

Posted by Rachel Read on January 15, 2013

There are whole business sectors which would benefit from more effective leadership.  Banking springs to mind.  But how do you lead a whole market sector made up of a multitude of competing businesses?  And yet they are all doing the same things, so there must be a way… 

The NHS is another good example.  It is huge.  I believe it is the third largest employer in the world.  Loved by many; castigated when things go wrong. The NHS is now the target of Government spending cuts, but it must maintain its service levels.  So many attempts have been made to change the way the NHS is managed, and none of them have really worked.  This is what a Kings Fund report said in 2011: 

‘One of the biggest weaknesses of the NHS has been its failure to engage clinicians – particularly, but not only doctors – in a sustained way in management and leadership. Individuals within the service, and its providers, need to be given both the ability and the confidence to challenge poor practice. Management and leadership needs to be shared between managers and clinicians and equally valued by both’.

A quick bit of internet research this week revealed the following leadership development programmes currently available in the NHS: Leadership at the point of care; Leading in an empowered organisation; RCN Leadership Development Course; Leadership Qualities Framework; NHS Leadership Framework; Clinical Leadership Competency Framework.  They are probably good programmes but there doesn’t appear to be a long term, NHS wide strategy, for developing leadership capability. 

Good leadership can be developed in this kind of organisation though. There is a lot of good in financial services institutions.  But then ‘Banks do the right thing for their customers and avoid corruption’ doesn’t make a good headline.  The organisations that are well led don’t often hit the news.  But they do win awards (congratulations to The Cambridge Building Society by way of example).

Within the NHS we know of a number of larger Trusts who are grasping the nettle, and developing comprehensive leadership development frameworks that link together clinical, nursing and operational managers and leaders - with good results; Staff become more engaged, targets are met, patients are not put at risk, and costs are reduced.  These are local schemes, not national, but with time, effort, and the right investment, they can easily work at a national level.

The framework being used (and indeed by The Cambridge Building Society) is our old favourite, Action Centred Leadership (or ACL).  It is a tried and tested model.  It has enough structure, and enough flexibility to work in any organisation. It is being applied in the United Nations, and if it can work there, it can work anywhere!

If you’d like to know more about any of these case studies, drop me a line, and I’ll happily have a chat.


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