Reflecting on my own leadership

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This week I have spent four days on the NHS Leadership Academy’s Top Leaders’ Core Programme.

The Programme is designed to prepare leaders for challenges that lie ahead and with the health sector in transition, the timing is perfect.

It is one of our jobs to ensure that leaders occupying senior positions in our system can work better to successfully tackle what have become known as the ‘wicked issues’.

I was attending just as a delegate to experience the programme in the same way as others have before me and more will in the future. I was not making any kind of assessment – I was there to participate fully and thanks to the facilitators and my colleagues I was made to feel very welcome.

Of course, in my capacity as Academy Managing Director, I was more familiar with the background to the programme than some of my fellow delegates but, although I had high expectations as a result, what I experienced went way beyond what I had expected.

At the heart of the programme is a powerful set of interventions which make you really consider your leadership behaviours and lead you on a road of self-discovery. You are encouraged to examine your abilities as a senior leader in the health sector; how you can improve your personal style and how to make an impact on the system in the future.

A total of 250 senior managers from across the health system have been through Top Leaders’ Core Programme so far. Current participation on this programme is via nomination from the four Strategic Health Authorities.

After initially enrolling, participants then take a series of diagnostic tests to establish how best to progress further.Through a series of superbly designed plenary and workshop sessions which support, stretch and challenge in equal measure; delegates got a chance to ‘self-review’ their values, style and approach to managing change through a combination of discussion and facilitation.
During this process several of my course colleagues underwent what they described as ‘life-changing’ experiences.

It was a privilege to be part of something so transformational. We can’t expect senior managers (who are human after all!) to adapt to a new world without appropriate guidance and support.

Having seen the programme first hand I am now convinced that our leaders will be better prepared to successfully lead system transformation and adopt more innovative approaches to the challenges we face. Meanwhile I and the rest of my cohort, are only part-way through the Programme and I am very much looking forward to the days ahead.

And what have I learned so far? There will be ongoing reflection by everyone who participates on the programme , but at this stage I can say I have had fresh revelation about how I engage with others more actively around some of the ‘wicked issues’ I’m facing … such as how the Academy can support a more diverse leadership.