Talking leadership with Suzie Bailey

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Suzie recently joined The King’s Fund as Director of Leadership and Organisational Development. We talk to her about the challenges facing leaders from across the health and care system.

What do you think are the biggest challenges for leaders in health and social care today?

The challenges are clearly multiple. But I think the overarching issue for all leaders is how to drive the greatest value, achieving the best quality care possible within the financial constraints, given the complexity of the system. Workforce capacity and capability is a huge component of being able to deliver value, and the culture and leadership issues to achieve this cannot be underestimated. Doing this work in partnership with patients, families and communities is a fundamental requirement of leaders today requiring time and skills.

What do you see as The King’s Fund’s role in helping leaders to meet these challenges?

The King’s Fund continues to be a great source of insight and policy expertise, helping leaders to make sense of the health and care systems in which they work. In addition to leadership development programmes which help leaders to develop themselves and access peer networks, we also offer consultancy and advisory services for individuals and organisations. The King’s Fund is also able to use its independent voice to influence and challenge, drawing on the experiences of leaders in health and care.

What drew you to the role of Director of Leadership and Organisational Development at The King’s Fund?

I had the opportunity to access information and learn from The King’s Fund throughout my career in the NHS. I also participated on one of the senior leadership programmes - the Top Manager Programme - a few years ago and then commissioned work from the Fund when I was in a national role. I had always been impressed with the quality of the work, analysis and commentary, and the commitment and talent of the staff I met. I was working in a national role on leadership and quality improvement and honestly wasn’t looking for a job when the role came up! But I just couldn’t miss the opportunity to join this vibrant organisation to lead on culture and leadership.

How has your career to date influenced your thinking around what makes excellent leadership in health and care?

For over two thirds of my career, I was an operational manager in the NHS for a wide range of clinical specialties in different settings, including acute, community and mental health services. Regardless of setting or local context, staff need leaders to be compassionate, inclusive and consistent in how they behave. The real work is relational. Relational work can be hard and needs investment of time – there isn’t a technical solution to replace it. So when I hear managers who say, ‘I’m not a people person’, then I am afraid they are working in the wrong sector! Being authentic, getting to know your staff and understanding what they do and what drives them is essential. Knowing yourself is also critical and that’s where the leadership programmes and organisational development (OD) work we offer at The King’s Fund can help leaders from all backgrounds during their careers.

What are your reflections on your first few months at The King’s Fund?

I have been at the Fund for just over two months and am enjoying getting to know the staff and understanding more about the wide range of work we do. I am excited by the energy I have found and the opportunities to strengthen our work and influence. We have delivered a range of high-quality leadership work in recent years, in partnership with many organisations and leaders in the health and care system, and offered thought leadership. I want us to build on this and seek new ways to reach leaders at all levels of the system, including exploring how we can engage with people at an earlier stage of their careers, offering information, networking and development, and considering how we might better utilise digital technology to support this.


Dr Malcolm Rig…

Retired GP and Health Ambassador at The Patients Association,
The Patients Association
Comment date
26 September 2018

Please could you give consideration to the idea that the Kings Fund should host an event with The Society of Local Council Clerks ( 5,000 Town and Parish Clerks in Membership ) so that colleagues can hear from Ian Morrell , Town Clerk at the Town of Nailsea near Bristol and some of his colleagues from around the UK about the way in which Town Councils can support the work of the NHS . Ian Morrell trained as an NHS Manager in London and then re-trained to be a Town Clerk. His project at "65 Nailsea Place" is an example of great leadership in the field of Health and Social care. See :
Number 65 to provide health and digital support | Clevedon ...…-...
28 Sep 2017 - Number 65 in Nailsea is opening on Monday to equip people with digital skills ... Tim Brazier and Pete Nuckley, from the Good Things Foundation, ... and people will be able to use the tablets on offer in the High Street base.
I am aware of several other projects that promote Health and Well Being around the UK that could also feature in a study day at The Kings Fund. All are examples of great leadership.

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