Leading for System Change



Practical, place-based support for integrated care systems (ICS), to build collaborative system-wide leadership thinking and practice, supporting pan-sector teams working across organisational boundaries on complex issues relating to ICS strategic priorities.

It aims to build understanding and expertise within each ICS around what it means to work at a system level; to encourage new ways of working and – ultimately – to enable better outcomes for people using health and care services. 

Quote / Testimonial:

We must do more to foster system-based, cross-sector, multi-professional leadership, centred around place-based healthcare that integrates care and improves population health.

NHS Interim People Plan, NHS England and Improvement, 2019

Please note that this offer is only available to ICSs.  If you are looking for a leadership development for yourself, please look at the other programmes available. If you are a senior responsible officer (SRO) or Human Resources and Organisational Development Lead (or equivalent) in an ICS and are interested in your system taking part, please contact using the details on the enquiries tab.

About Leading for System Change

Leading for System Change is a set of flexible components, tailored to the needs of particular ICS and delivered within that locality, that aims to develop and extend the capacity for system-wide thinking and action within an ICS, thereby helping to fulfil the aim set out in the NHS Long Term Plan to “bring together local organisations to redesign care and improve population health, creating shared leadership and action”.

Leading for System Change is not simply a leadership development programme for individuals. It brings together system leadership knowledge and principles with their practical application to enable colleagues to work together on deep-seated, complex issues that form part of the ICS’ priorities. It’s about supporting real change in your community, changes in the way people think, the way they behave and the way they interact, with better outcomes for local populations.

The offer will enable participants to work on a ‘wicked’ or complex issue that relates to ICS strategic aims, where progress requires cross-sector collaboration; having built-in citizen, patient or community involvement; clearly defined anticipated gains; demonstrable commitment to diversity and inclusion; and explicit support from senior stakeholders.

Why this is needed

At one level, this is a response to the need for ICSs to foster new ways of working.

Quote / Testimonial:

An ICS brings together local organisations to redesign care and improve population health, creating shared leadership and action.

NHS Long Term Plan

However, the need goes way beyond this. Covid-19 has already brought about real change to the way public services are delivered.

We know that we are going to need to go further, not only to respond to the virus and its impact across society, but also to address health and social care system wide challenges such as;

  • backlogs in treatment and care
  • dealing with increasing demand in the face of finite resources, and
  • managing ‘normal’ winter pressures. 

It is recognised that in order to meet these challenges, we will need to embed system leadership working in true collaboration, irrespective of organisation and forming as part of a wider system. 

Benefits for ICSs

  • To build understanding and expertise within each ICS around what it means to work at a system level To increase impact and build collaborative energy to address real system issues
  • To create a network of change agents across a system to drive forward system thinking in practice
  • To encourage new ways of working
  • To enable better outcomes for people using health and care services.

Benefits for participants

This support will enable participants to:

  • be able to apply their learning immediately
  • learn by doing and adapt as necessary
  • work with others across their system with a focus on collaboration, collective leadership and shared learning 
  • be more confident and aware of the behaviours that encourage and enable system leadership
  • demonstrate system sightedness in their behaviour, mind-sets and attitudes, based on appreciating and engaging with multiple perspectives
  • understand the dilemmas of managing apparently contradictory tensions as a both-and challenge rather than mutually exclusive options
  • have a range of skills and tools to apply and further their learning about systems and leadership in systems
  • choose leadership approaches which build trust, empower others, share risk and foster collective accountability
  • seek opportunities to connect across boundaries, build empowering relationships and network in service of delivering a shared vision for change.

The intervention has been designed as a means of accelerating change, increasing impact and building collaborative energy to address real system issues.


Quote / Testimonial:

"This course has been incredibly interesting and has introduced some models for new ways of working that have added real value to conversations at a local and system level."