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More on system leadership
- Read the individual interviews with system leaders
- Watch Nick Timmins' interviews with Victor Adebowale and Ruth Carnall
- Watch Nick Timmins' talk: Learning from system leaders
- Find out more about our system leadership work
- See Vijaya Nath's article: Egos and ambition have no place in health care leadership
"I think collaboration is the most important innovation for the NHS today". It is not the fancy technology that is holding us back but largely:
1. Poorly set up and functioning structures. The system is set up to work in a 'them and us' way. Evaluation is based on organisation not system performance e.g. CQC
2. Lack of right skill set for the job at hand. Too much EGO and organisation centric agenda. Behaviours need to demonstrate efficient working beyond boundaries.
3. How do you expect laprosccopic surgery to flourish if the leader has been practising open surgery for 35 years and is too 'rigid' to accept that he/she needs to pick up a new skill or focus on a different set of behaviours. Quite a few 'senior leaders' happy in their old ways which brought them success in the past but are outdated for what the NHS requires today.
4. Their is urgency mentioned umpteen times in the 'talking' but very little urgency shown in action.
Does it really mean that the service is no longer properly selecting, training and developing present and future leaders?....I think so. Individuals seem to be simply looking for their next promotion rather than the giving of a service. How dare whistle blowers tell the public the true facts!!... Lets have more meetings more reports and maybe the problems will simply disappear!
There are centres of real excellence but they are being overshadowed by a growing number of inflexible, incompetent managers and leaders who still find ways of staying in post and unfortunately promoting those in their own image.
I feel 80 page investment of time reading is as critical as time compiling so the value of the impact and contribution it will make is dependent on the likes of me - a modest front line leader dealing with enabling, empowering, reflecting, shaping culture, instilling pride, humour and reputation for our services in my 50 odd staff. The bit that I would want to add re leadership citing Derek Sivers and his irresistible 3 minute youtube clip on leadership is to say it is about credibility - ie leading by example - if you are no longer doing the thing you are leading about be very careful how you pronounce and expect others to follow - see the dancing guy in the Sivers clip - He started dancing and is still dancing when all the crowds joined him !!
such as Mental Health, first question are you subject to section 117, Guardianship or COP, second what are their problems? assess, including 'safeguarding', identify needs, then implement. What agencies could be involved in this exercise. DWP,COP, Appointees, Housing, Guardianship, CCG, LA, Carers, Banks, Building Societies, Personal Budget, Support Workers.
To be a Systems Leader you must have knowledge, and that takes time.
There needs to be various System Leaders specializing in different subject matters, with some 'crossover' between agencies, i.e Housing Benefit regulations is the same for all groups.
It comes down to one question, you cannot be a System Leader if you don't know the system.
2. There is no leadership training
3. But I believe systems leadership can be taught and I am happy to share how although health is not my field...
Some really true and useful responses and comments here to the report; for me systems leadership is both simple and complex in its application - it's simple because its a practice rooted in some very basic human things - a willingness to privilege relationships, connection, open and honest conversation and a view always to the greater context of which you are an interconnected and interdependent part.
Its complex for all the same reasons; as the invitation often coming from our own organisations is to make the idea of 'thinking locally' equivalent to 'just think within our organisational bounds'. This pressure to look after our own whilst playing the game of 'being involved for the greater good' can be felt with real urgency and the need to have (enough) time to foster meaningful relationships (from multiple perspectives) with people from all places within our communities means that those leaders attempting to reach across their own systemic boundaries can all too often be pulled sharply back in...
Space to think, relate, learn and pause (so as to understand) before taking (what you hope is wise) action is crucial - what presses against this is the tendency toward a type of short-term thinking driven by anxiety and a need to constrain uncertainty (impossible to do!) so as to do things that simply recycle 'more of the same' types of solutions that too often only compound wider issues - this is the antithesis of the space systems leaders have to be able to sit in - managing uncertainty so as to still act - in local ways that over time influence wider systemic patterns.
This is a key skill and capability and systems leaders need time, space, support and encouragement to step into this space. Let's hope more of them do...