Embedding inclusion in leadership development

Posted by: Jan Sobieraj - Posted on:

Creating leaders who can be the difference is at the heart of what the NHS Leadership Academy is all about.

Managing director, Jan Sobieraj
Managing director, Jan Sobieraj

Our purpose is to develop outstanding leadership in health, in order to improve people’s health and their experience of the NHS.

Those words have been chosen very carefully. In my view leaders who are representative of the areas they work and of the workforce they lead create better patient experiences.

That is why we are absolutely committed to ensuring more visible difference in leadership across the health sector. This means changes to leadership styles and behaviours of course, with leaders willing to adapt and adopt new ideas.

It also means ensuring leaders at all levels are representative of the people they serve; as well as being ready to innovate and offer different perspectives.

It will be a challenge, but it is one that is being addressed at the very top of the NHS – with a recent meeting of the NHS Commissioning Board featuring a discussion on the importance of more diversity in leadership.

So the NHS Leadership Academy must respond – and very shortly we will be hosting a Leadership for Inclusion symposium in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the UK – Leicester.
This will be an educational and interactive day which will highlight evidence to demonstrate the tangible benefits diverse leadership has to patients, communities and will showcase best practice in this field.

It will be an opportunity to challenge ourselves about bringing difference to the system, which is something I am passionate about.The NHS Leadership Academy has also developed an action plan to develop our work in this area. Through a combination of innovation and learning from others who are experts in this field we will ensure that inclusion is not a discrete area of work in the Academy, but integral to it.

We have consulted with other experts and our peers and developed a framework for our next phase of development. This will include broadening inclusion work so it firmly includes patient and public involvement, so we can be sure that our future path is being shaped in the way that best serves their interests.

The Academy itself will also become an exemplar of effective inclusion, with inclusive principles woven into every part of our work.

All this work will require careful consideration. We need to get the detail right. But we haven’t got all the answers and we recognise this. If you have a view I would welcome your thoughts – please post a response to this blog as a first step.

Our new core programmes

This week the NHS Leadership Academy announced it is launching the largest and most comprehensive approach to leadership development ever undertaken – by any organisation. More than £46m will be invested in three core programmes for leadership by 2015.

Despite the positive message this gives about the importance of leadership and leadership training I still encounter people who tell me that good leaders don’t need help; they don’t need to be trained.

This is clearly untrue. To succeed in life we all need a bit of coaching here; some guidance there. We all need to develop our skills and absorb new knowledge to further our thinking.
We are not all born with the talent to lead all people in all circumstances.

Whether it’s when we are starting out at school or university, or later stepping into the world of work, we all need exposure to different expertise, environments and situations.

Our Olympic athletes didn’t get their gold medals by accident – they put in a lot of hard work while being coached by the best trainers in the business. Investment paid dividends for them, and the investment the NHS Leadership Academy is making in our current and future leaders will also pay dividends for patients in terms of outcomes and positive experiences.

But it’s not just about the Academy. Organisations across the public health sector need to take ownership of leadership as an issue.

They must seek to grow a climate in which staff  thrive and productivity grow as a result. In the Academy, we look forward to working with all of those health colleagues through our core programmes.

3 replies on “Embedding inclusion in leadership development”

  • Dear Jan
    I read this mission initially not realising in was posted in 2012. I became excited and was going to be emailing you to say I really want to be part of this. But ironically in some ways I have been in that I have just completed the priceless pioneering systems leadership programme Intersect. Yes I am on a journey to BE the change I want to see and to be the best leader I possibly can be. In day to day practice though, I guess it’s hard to be as impactful as I would like to be. Day to day experience indicates we are a long way from your mission. Now that we are in 2015, I am curious to get your perspective of where you see we are at in relation to your mission. Thank you for your leadership. Sincerely Algar

    • Thank you for your post Algar.

      Since writing this blog, we’ve made a number of changes to our programmes based upon what we have learned. Our learning has been informed by various conversations, feedback from programme participants, staff and patients, research and the determined work of our own leadership team and staff at the Academy. We intend to make sure that Inclusion – one of our four key strategic aims – is lived, experienced and makes a difference to staff and patients.

      All leaders need to own this agenda and this is increasingly reflected in both the content and facilitation of our programmes. On our senior programmes for instance, we have introduced a provoking and challenging session on power and inclusion, which enables participants to consider how they will lead in ways that ensure greater levels of inclusion going forward. In essence, leaders are learning what it means to be the change they want to see. Leading in this way is crucial for better patient care and there is encouraging evidence that our approach is working.

      You might find it useful and encouraging to connect with a wider community of likeminded individuals through our emerging memberships offer which you can access here: https://nhsx.uk/ I hope you find this helpful; Our head of leadership for Inclusion Tracie Jolliff would be very happy to dialogue with you further. Thanks for being part of the growing community of leaders determined to make a difference for their staff and patient care.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *