Building your authority: influencing beyond your role

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We know that it is no longer enough just to have a good idea; just as important is the ability to work collaboratively with others, to navigate organisational politics and to work with relational dynamics to use that idea to create change. 

In the midst of a global pandemic, where new organisational arrangements have changed familiar lines of authority and where leadership takes place predominantly from behind a computer screen, opportunities for influencing can be fraught with dilemmas and frustrations as well as bringing opportunities for innovation and new ways of working. 

This programme will enable you to work more effectively in the gap between your commitment and enthusiasm for change and the reality of making things happen within the constraints of your role and wider system priorities.   

The ongoing response to Covid-19 and uncertainties about the coming months have brought an added layer of anxiety and complexity to the role of leaders, with familiar tactics and assumptions about leadership being challenged in this unprecedented environment.   

This programme will offer a reflective space to support you in taking stock, providing an opportunity to review your learning about leadership in the current context, and will help prepare you for working well in the coming months. It will enable you to work with the complexity of relationships within teams and across organisations, and will help you to develop a language and conceptual base in order to make sense of the nuances in today’s health and care systems. 

Is this the programme for you?

You may be at an early stage of your leadership career and have some experience of leadership development, but you are also starting to recognise that your knowledge and commitment alone are not enough to deal effectively with the complex, often intractable problems you are faced with. You may be an experienced leader who wants to refresh and further develop your thinking and leadership approach.   

You may be at a key stage in your career development and need some space to reflect honestly about your assumptions and expectations for the future, including your role and future opportunities.  

Perhaps you know that some things need to change for you in your role and now is the time to give yourself permission to reflect and take account of what helps you feel authorised to lead and what repeatedly gets in the way for you. 

Perhaps you are clear about your principles and intentions but feel somehow there is always a gap between these and what happens in practice. You are curious about how to work in this space and want to find ways to lead change that are both effective and compassionate. 

You may know what you want to do and have lots of ideas and energy, but don’t yet have enough positional authority or feel confident enough about your personal authority to really shift things. While you may lack the formal authority of a senior job title, you have the responsibility to lead or may be held accountable for delivering ambitious agendas and are expected to work across your organisation to deliver change. 

Many people join this programme as an entry point into our senior leaders programme – The Top Manager programme (TMP). This route into TMP provides the conceptual and practice-based ground work that is assumed for working on TMP and that many experienced leaders and clinicians have not yet had the time or space to explore. 

If this sounds familiar, then perhaps now is the time to consider joining this programme. 

In this article Allison Trimble discusses the challenges leaders in health and care face when they begin to grow their influence, and how they can overcome them. 

Who will benefit from this programme?

This programme is often attended by heads of service; team leads/lead practitioners; associate medical directors, specialist service or pharmacy leads; general managers; social care managers or, business managers. You may have recently been promoted or be on course to become a senior leader. Participants who have been on a management or graduate scheme, have now had some management and leadership experience, and are ready to move to the next stage, are particularly welcome. You may also be a senior leader, practitioner or clinician who has been leading from experience and is looking for a refresh of leadership ideas, a better understanding of self and new ways of working to support your hard-won experience.

We aim to represent the diversity of the health, care and the wider community system so welcome participants from NHS organisations, local government, social care and housing organisations, private and third sector providers, as well as patient and community-based leaders.

How will you benefit from this programme?

This programme will equip you with tools and strategies to:

  • better understand your own leadership style and how you work with others and approach complex problems
  • lead and influence effectively from behind a computer screen
  • test your assumptions about yourself and others in order to work well in groups and teams, both in person and online
  • work more effectively with colleagues, patients and communities who exercise different kinds of authority and bring different perspectives
  • create space to really think about what is going on when you meet resistance or encounter limitations to your ambitions – both your own and those of others
  • build your personal resilience and capacity for learning and explore how to create resilient learning cultures, particularly in an online context
  • develop a network of peers who can grow together as a cohort of future senior leaders.

What will you do on this programme?

The programme offers a blend of conceptual, experiential and applied learning to help you develop your personal leadership authority and build your capacity for working across groups and systems. The 2020 cohort will meet in an online environment and there will be an opportunity to work in a range of large and small group configurations and explore how working online can be used to influence groups and systems. The programme will be offered in two blocks consisting of two-and-a-half days with a weekend in between. While we will not be working online all the time, we ask you to commit to being present as a learner over the full five days as there will be personal work, preparation and paired conversations built into the core time.

The programme draws on the well-established tools and group relations approach of our Top Manager Programme (TMP) which has been running for more than 35 years. It is delivered through a mix of:

  • self reflection and group work to help you understand how you take up your role in groups and systems and to explore what it is like to be on the receiving end of your actions
  • workshops to introduce and develop key relational practices
  • conceptual sessions – introducing tools and frameworks to support your experience on the programme and to apply to your leadership practice back at work
  • peer work in relation to responding to current practical challenges and developing a future network of peer leaders
  • one-to-one coaching with a programme director.

The programme stands alone, but it can also provide a foundation for leaders to begin developing the personal awareness and reflective practices that underpin TMP.

What you will need to access this programme?

In order to access the programme online you will need access to a PC (laptop or desktop), microphone, webcam and a good quality broadband connection. Sessions will be delivered using MS Teams or Zoom so you will need to ensure you can access these on your computer. We also strongly recommend that you access the programme in a quiet environment.

Programme team


Allison Trimble

Senior consultant, Leadership and organisational development


Matthew Rice

Senior consultant, Leadership and organisational development


Mark Patterson

Senior consultant, Leadership and organisational development

Find out more and apply