Building collaborative leadership across health and care organisations

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In many parts of the United Kingdom, NHS providers, commissioners, local authorities and third sector organisations are working together, at a time of intense financial pressure, to re-design local health and care services. In some areas, new system-wide partnerships have been set up to develop and implement local sustainability and transformation plans (STPs), in others leaders are adopting a more place-based approach to improving the health and wellbeing of the local population. Integrated care systems and various other developments are requiring senior clinical and managerial leaders to consider how they shift from operating in a formally competitive system to a more collaborative one.

This is no easy task: reconfiguring and transforming the way health and care services are delivered, especially in an environment where responsibility still lies with individual organisations rather than local system leadership groups, is challenging. Leaders will need to adopt a more collaborative leadership style if these new ways of working are to succeed.

Who is it for?

This programme is for chief executives of NHS providers, chairs and chief operating officers of clinical commissioning groups, and experienced senior directors involved in planning and securing transformational change locally. This is an essential programme if you are a chief executive or senior director who really wants to maximise the opportunities created by the development of a new care model, integrated care system or local STP.

This was a very timely programme for me – the structure worked well with my busy diary, and it gave me some useful techniques and tips to take back and use in my leadership role.
Director of finance across three clinical commissioning groups

How will you benefit from this programme?

Participants will:

  • gain knowledge of models and conceptual frameworks that support a more collaborative style of leadership
  • have the opportunity to identify at an individual level how they will make a tangible difference as a collaborative leader in their local health and social care system
  • develop strategies to help them overcome local challenges that may be hindering a more collaborative operating model
  • gain a better understanding of different organisational perspectives
  • 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 experienced leaders with protected space to develop the skills and behaviours associated with a more collaborative style of leadership. It will also explore the style, culture and behaviour that participants are promoting within their organisation – as staff at all levels will need to work more collaboratively across organisational and professional boundaries if new health and care models are to succeed.

The programme will run over nine months and comprise:

  • four modules – one two-day module (module one) and three one-and-a-half-day modules (modules two, three and four).
  • telephone conversations between the programme participants and programme director, which will be held four to six weeks before the programme starts to identify personal goals and ambitions. This information will be used to design the content of the modules.
  • There will be a maximum of 16 participants.

Previous contributors have included:

  • Rt Hon. Jacqui Smith, Chair, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  • Prof. Chris Ham, Chief Executive, The King's Fund
  • Baroness Dido Harding, Chair, NHS Improvement 
  • Mark Devlin, Chief Operating Officer, Unicef UK

Programme structure

Module one: Defining you and the system

  • Explore the different organisational interests and perspectives in your system
  • Define the leadership challenges
  • Identify key collaborative leadership behaviours

Module two: Building trust and sharing power

  • Developing a collaborative leadership mindset
  • Enhancing your dialogue skills
  • Working with ‘soft’ power
  • Network theory and application

Module three: Creating conditions for greater collaboration

  • Understanding the neuroscience behind our behaviour
  • Holding generative conversations
  • Developing a shared purpose and commitment

Module four: Building and developing collective impact

  • Building and developing collective responsibility
  • Architects of complex decisions
  • Designing your own model of collaborative leadership

Programme team


Nicola Walsh

Assistant Director of Leadership and Organisational Development


Stephanie de Sarandy

Leadership Associate

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