Working in partnership is an effective and efficient way to combine our knowledge, skills and experience and share good practice for developing leaders in the NHS.
Recent discussions with Medical Directors and Directors of Nursing in the NHS, revealed concerns that there was an insufficient pool of aspirant Clinical Directors to ‘step up and into’ board-level roles. This was despite the fact that many aspirant leaders have already been involved in leadership development. It was felt that a new approach was needed. In response to this requirement, the key priorities of the NHS North West Leadership Academy’s (NWLA) leadership strategy was to commission and deliver innovative/cutting edge methods of assessing and developing experienced, newly appointed and aspirant leaders – to ensure that there is a pool of talented and high performing clinical leaders that are ‘job ready’. A collaborative made up of Impact Consulting Psychologists, PACE and Aspire were commissioned by the NWLA to design and deliver a series of pilot Assessment and Development Centres aimed at identifying aspirant leaders for the future.
The collaborative gathered data on what type of skills, attitudes, experiences, and behaviours would be necessary for current and future leaders to be effective. This involved carrying out conversations and telephone interviews with key stakeholders across the health and social care system (including the Clinically Led Reference Group, Sponsoring Organisations, Directors of Nursing and Medicine, and CCG Chairs and Chief Officers). Thematic analysis was then carried out to establish the behavioural and leadership skills required for effective performance in the roles; today and in the future. These ‘essential ingredients’ were used to form the basis of the A & DC design. The benefits of collaboration were emphasised in the content of the programme and were modelled by the seamless delivery of the collaborative.
The programme was evaluated on two levels: first the extent to which the aspirants had benefited from the A & DC and secondly the way in which the collaborative worked together throughout the whole project. Overall, the pilot programme was a great success which has resulted in many more A & DCs lined up to take place throughout the rest of 2014 and 2015. Here are some key points from the evaluation:
• 97% of delegates felt the A&DC experience has enabled them to develop their awareness of what they need to do to move into a governing body/ board level role
• 100% felt the A&DC was managed in a professional way
• 97% would recommend the A & DC to other aspirant Directors
• “Excellent day that helped (and re-assured!) me about where I am up to now and where I want to be.”
• “All useful and interesting”
• “I loved the day”
• “I went home and clearly explained to anyone prepared to listen that it was the best day I had had in the NHS in 6 years!”
• “I don’t think there was one thing that was not of benefit to me”.
• “I honestly felt inspired throughout the day”
• “This is how all training days need to be delivered; I cannot praise it highly enough”
The programme is being evaluated as a longitudinal study by Aston University and we will report back in the future on the results