Building collaborative leadership across health and care organisations

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Integration and collaboration are central features of current health care policy. The NHS long-term plan has confirmed this by stating that all parts of England will be covered by an integrated care system (ICS) by 2021. During the Covid-19 pandemic we have seen some great examples of NHS organisations coming together, as well as closer working between health and local government, and health and the voluntary sector. Greater collaboration across health and care organisations will continue to be important as the system begins to recover.    

ICSs, sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and other place-based organisations require NHS leaders and staff to develop a shared understanding with colleagues from local government and the voluntary sector about what is and is not required to make partnership working a reality. This will require a shift in mindset, some different working practices and a greater understanding of how everyone operates. Developing a collective identity will take time but there are some skills and behaviours leaders can adopt to accelerate this process. This programme is designed to equip senior leaders to develop such skills and behaviours. It uses current policy developments to inform and test out what will be most helpful in ‘the real world’ of ICS, STPs and place-based working. 

Who is it for?

This programme is for senior staff of NHS providers, chairs and chief operating officers of clinical commissioning groups, ICS and STP staff, and experienced senior managers and clinical leads working in place-based leadership teams who really want to maximise the opportunities of working with peers across an ICS, integrated care partnership or locality. 

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

How will you benefit from this programme?

You will:

  • gain knowledge of models and frameworks that 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 the opportunity to participate in a national network with other NHS and social care leaders. 

What will you do on this programme?

The programme will provide you with protected space to develop the skills and behaviours associated with a more collaborative style of leadership and to explore the style, culture and behaviours within your own organisation and your local health and care system. 

You will have a telephone conversation with the programme director four to six 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 two days long.

There will be a maximum of 16 participants. 

Previous contributors have included: 

  • Rt Hon Jacqui Smith, Chair, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  • Professor Sir Chris Ham, former Chief Executive, The King's Fund
  • Mark Devlin, Chief Operating Officer, Unicef UK

Programme structure

Module one: defining you and the system

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

Module two: system and place-based leadership

  • Developing a collaborative leadership mindset
  • Enhancing your dialogue skills
  • Identifying core leadership capabilities for working across ‘place’
  • Clarifying the shared purpose for working together 

Module three: power, politics and decision-making

  • Understanding the neuroscience behind our behaviour
  • Exploring the difference between old power and new power
  • Designing decision-making processes and holding ‘generative’ conversations to produce tangible change
  • Creating conditions to support collaboration

Module four: building and developing your collective impact

  • Co-ordinating and collaborating across organisational boundaries in the absence of stable structures 
  • Exploring different operating models you may be working in or across and how to maximise your impact to support greater collaboration
  • Designing your own model of collaborative leadership

Programme team


Nicola Walsh

Assistant Director of Leadership and Organisational Development


Stephanie de Sarandy

Leadership Associate

Find out more or apply