The NHS Leadership Academy has developed a series of world-leading development programmes for leaders, wherever they are in health and care. This guide outlines them and the benefits they bring to leaders and the people around them.

Now in its fourth year, the NHS Leadership Academy has already worked with thousands of health and care staff. Our aim when we started was the same as it is today – at its most simple, to secure improvements in patient care, through greater staff engagement and better leadership. Leadership at its best is a set of knowledge, skills, behaviour and experiences that can be developed, supported, improved and excelled in. But none of this happens by accident and good leaders know that they need to invest in themselves, as does any professional, to do justice to the job they hold.

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The Academy’s role

The focus of the Academy is to ensure that leaders in all parts of the system are properly developed with the skills and knowledge to achieve the ambitions of the NHS. Our leadership development principles are simple and well proven. Leaders need:


  • Confidence in their role to be at their most effective


  • The competence, skills, expertise, experience and support to secure this confidence. This comes from expert development and training as well as on-the-job learning


  • The right behaviours to build alliances with a wide range of professionals and across organisational boundaries to serve diverse communities with complex needs. The success of the NHS over the next decade or so will rely heavily on the behaviours of healthcare leaders at all levels and their ability to work across all sectors


  • The ability to engage and empower those working with them, relying less on old style ‘command and control’ approaches and more on fostering a more caring and considerate climate that generates employee engagement and compassion in care. Our principles are simple and are matched with an ambitious and innovative approach. Increasingly, the concept of ‘individual leader as hero’ is being replaced by collective and connected leadership across the system. Leaders have a direct impact on engagement by inspiring commitment and providing recognition, growth and development opportunities. Investment in leadership development improves retention rates of existing quality staff, as well as increasing recruitment, both of which are key business drivers.


Our national approach offers an opportunity for leaders right across the system to learn and develop together. We’ll be doing this through our new memberships approach. The NHS needs all leaders, at all levels, united by a common purpose and collective endeavour, moving in the same direction. We are here to help make that happen.


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