Building collaborative leadership across health and care organisations

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This programme has been designed to support health and care leaders to adopt a more collaborative leadership style. Integration and collaboration are central features of current health care policy across England. Since April 2021, all areas of England have been covered by an integrated care system (ICS) bringing together local NHS organisations with local authorities, voluntary, community and social enterprise sector partners and others.

These partnerships have the task of collectively planning and integrating services that better meet the health needs of their population. 

They are undertaking this task at a time when the value of working together is clearer than ever, with closer collaboration across organisational, service and professional boundaries being seen (in at least some cases) as one of the positives to have emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic.

After more than 30 years of health and care organisations competing with one another for resources, this shift towards greater collaboration to improve patient care and health outcomes is not easy. This programme will help you gain the skills needed to collaborate and lead across organisations.  

Is this course for me?

This programme is for experienced senior NHS managers and clinical leaders working in or with ICSs or place-based leadership teams. It is also open to senior people from local government and the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, especially those who are members or working closely with the ICS Board and ICS partnership board. Clinical directors of neighbourhoods and localities may also be interested, as may NHS Provider executives working in provider collaboratives.

What will I learn?

The programme will provide you with protected space to develop the skills and behaviours associated with a more collaborative style of leadership. We will also explore key system leadership capabilities, some of the neuroscience behind collaboration and the emerging national policy environment you are working in.

You will:

  • gain knowledge of concepts, models and frameworks that can support a more collaborative style of leadership
  • identify how you individually can make a tangible difference as a collaborative leader across your local health and care system 
  • gain a better understanding of different organisational perspectives 
  • develop strategies to help you overcome local challenges that may be hindering a more collaborative way of working  
  • have opportunities to examine the national and local policy environment you are working with
  • participate in a national network with other NHS and social care leaders. 


You will have a telephone conversation with the programme director about three weeks before the programme begins to identify your personal goals and ambitions. This information will be used to design the detailed content of the programme. 

The programme will run over seven months and comprises four modules – each will be approximately two days long. There will be no more than 16 participants in each programme group.  Below is an indication of some of the topics we will cover.

Module one: defining you and your system

  • Exploring the different organisational interests and perspectives in your system
  • Agreeing principles for working collaboratively
  • Examining the nature of the ‘dialogue’ and what you can do to shift stuck patterns of behaviour

Module two: working across boundaries

  • Developing a collaborative leadership mindset
  • Enhancing your dialogue skills
  • Identifying core system leadership capabilities
  • Clarifying the shared purpose for working together across organisational and sectoral boundaries
  • Collaboration –understanding the neuroscience and why it can be difficult to collaborate
  • External speaker

Module three: power, politics and decision-making

  • Exploring the power dynamics in your inter-group or inter-organisational collaboration
  • Exploring the power values in your ‘system’
  • Navigating the political landscape
  • Designing decision-making processes and holding ‘generative’ conversations to produce tangible change
  • External speaker

Module four: building and developing your individual and collective impact

  • Exploring different operating models you may be working in or across and how to maximise your impact
  • Designing your own model of collaborative leadership
  • Managing and surfacing conflict
  • Developing organisational and system resilience
  • External speaker


Great programme. The mix of learning new skills linked to integrated care policy developments was useful. Good speakers and networking opportunities.
Chief executive, NHS Provider

Programme team


Nicola Walsh

Assistant Director of Leadership and Organisational Development


Stephanie de Sarandy

Leadership Associate

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