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Opinion

How past leaders can inspire today’s leaders

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Leadership might not always make the headlines but the impact of good, bad or indifferent leaders is often present in our conversations - and we all know the difference a great nurse leader makes.

Just for a second, think about one you know in your community, ward or at board.

For them, there is nothing more important than improving patient care, experience and outcome; nothing more important in making this happen than ensuring their staff are supported, developed and cared for so they can do their jobs. And there is nothing more likely to create that than having skilled, compassionate and well developed leaders.

This too is the philosophy of the NHS Leadership Academy. We believe that great leadership development improves leadership behaviours and skills. Put simply, better leadership leads to better patient care, experience and outcomes.

We recognise that the NHS is about providing not only some of the best healthcare in the world, but doing so in an environment where staff feel able to focus on care, compassion and respect.

In launching a suite of five core programmes to develop leaders in health at every level of the service, we’re aiming to  help people across the NHS develop the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to lead well. We already work with lots of incredible nurses on some of our early adopter programmes, and we’re confident the new suite will inspire a whole new generation of nurses to embrace their inner leader.

Our inspiration -  in part - comes from some of the great people after whom we have named these programmes.

For example, Elizabeth Garrett-Anderson was the first qualified hospital doctor who not only strived to provide great clinical care for patients, but showed the passion and tenacity needed in adverse circumstances to battle prejudice and ignorance. We have named our Masters programme after her. This is for more senior leaders who want to further develop themselves and acquire the skills to have even broader impact and influence.

Or Nye Bevan, the man whose vision led to the creation of the NHS, is the inspiration behind the executive leadership programme. This programme is for those looking to move into executive positions or take on accountable officer roles.

For nursing inspiration, our choice was clear.

Mary Seacole was a nurse who provided the kind of compassionate care we still see in the nursing profession today. We have named our Leading Care I programme after her. The programme leads to a postgraduate certificate in leadership, is a combination of online learning and local learning sets, and gives you a really intensive development in leadership theory, skills, knowledge and on your own leadership style and impact.

Just as Mary Seacole provided care in a compassionate way, we are looking to ensure the skills of leadership are also delivered in a way which creates a positive, nurturing and supportive environment for staff. We believe that leadership should be positive, nurturing and supportive, in much the same way those qualities are found in the skills we use to care for patients.  

We carry the legacy of the NHS from one generation to the next, and want to support our current generation of nurses to develop their skills and knowledge so their influence can grow beyond the boundaries of their current role and make an even better difference to patients and carer’s experience of the NHS. More information can be found on the NHS Leadership Academy’s website: www.leadershipacademy.nhs.uk

 

Karen Lynas is deputy managing director at NHS Leadership Academy

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