The Platform for Transformation Leadership Programme was designed as an intensive intervention to influence and impact change across the North West system. It was launched in response to the personal challenges that senior system and transformation leaders face when needing to work more collaboratively with local partners, provide services in a more integrated way and increase levels of personal efficiency.
The programme builds the self-confidence of leaders working without traditional hierarchies and develops self-awareness, resilience and the ability to foster authentic leadership styles.
The idea and approach
Platform has been developed from the learning and impact of two previous NHS NWLA programmes which focused on leaders' self-confidence, authenticity and influence. Both programmes, Centre Stage and i2i, were well evaluated by participants.
As senior leaders lose the support they previously received from long standing hierarchies within health and care, they are pushed out of their comfort zones and their self-confidence, their ability to navigate the system and affect positive change can be reduced. These senior leaders can then start to question their values and ambitions within the NHS, which can lead to a loss of purpose and efficiency.
The programme puts psychotherapy into action and aims to allow participants to more effectively put forward their ‘authentic selves’ and foster authentic leadership styles. Participants identify and leave behind unnecessary psychological and professional baggage, creating a new sense of purpose and realisation. This shift in identity will equip participants with the necessary tools to work with confidence and purpose without the need to rely on hierarchy.
The focus of this programme is therefore in:
- Developing resilience
- Strategic influencing
- System change
- Communication style
- Presenting with impact, authenticity and self confidence
- Developing their leadership style to be able to work across the system
- Focused on authenticity and leading with moral purpose
- Equipping them to be better able to make the right decisions for the right reasons
- Be more operationally resilient
- Support to be better networked and connected across the system leading to a more collaborative approach
Delivered in three phases, the methodology is grounded in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and psychotherapy, allowing for a deeper sense of personal growth, discovery and impact. The programme is delivered with small groups to ensure a personal and immersive experience. Attendance helps participants to remove blocks and mind-set barriers and resolve inner conflict, so they are able to make new and more resourceful choices.
The impact of this programme is that it can fundamentally ‘move’ someone in a permanent way. It is therefore a very emotional programme which creates a strong experience imprinted on their memories.
The programme enables leaders to have the impact and personal influence they need to embody and deliver strategic vision and ambitions. It also helps participants develop to a place where they can be:
- Confident, skilful and impactful communicators and presenters;
- Resilient under pressure and scrutiny;
- Capable of working collaboratively and building productive relationships within organisations and across wider systems;
- Comfortable with complexity and ambiguity;
- Able to recognise, understand and influence different perspectives, contributions and experience;
- Authentic with moral purpose (passion for doing the right things at the right time for service users
The programme links closely to the objectives laid out in the Developing People: Improving Care (DP:IC) national framework for action on improvement and leadership development. In the DP:IC it highlights the critical capabilities needed around systems leadership skills to build trusting relationships, agree shared system goals, and collaborate across organisational and professional boundaries.
This corresponds well to the Nine Dimensions of Leadership Behaviour laid out in the NHS Healthcare Leadership Model (HLM). Participants on cohorts in 2018 were asked to self-assess themselves against the HLM to see what impact the programme has had. As shown in the diagram below, the domains that presented the greatest changes were: ‘Inspiring a shared purpose’, ‘Sharing the vision’ and ‘Influencing for results’.
There has been extensive positive feedback which has been captured in a full evaluation. This evidence shows real impact at a personal (participant) level, and there are examples given where the learning acquired has been applied within their organisations.
Participants shared how the programme has supported them in carrying out their role as a leader in their organisation, which identified key themes across their responses:
Better able to communicate
“It has enabled me to deliver key messages in a much more effective way to build consensus and support for change.”
“It has helped me to be more ‘settled’ and ‘grounded’ when giving presentations to large groups, along with appealing to all communications styles in the content.”
Built my self confidence
“Built greater understanding of myself, gave me practical tools to use in my role - generated more confidence and belief in myself.”
“It enabled me to deal with my turmoil around becoming a leader, to realise and vocalise my ambition. As a direct result, I stood for the role of Chair. And was successfully elected!”
Increased impact and influence
“Helped me have more impact and influence.”
“Different perspective on 'how' influence can take place.”
“It certainly gave me more clarity as a leader in my convictions and abilities.”
Practical tools & techniques
“Has made me think about how I can pass on the tools and techniques to emergent leaders within the organisation to improve retention and support career planning and leadership development / succession planning.”
“It has given me tools to project myself in a more impactful way with my peers and colleagues. All the theory and practice we have done have really supported the learning, and self-reflection.”
Specific tools and techniques which participants found useful and have been put into practice included:
“The 4MAT model has helped to remind me that people with different learning styles make up my audience and allows me to tailor my communication when I am presenting”
This has been adopted by all participants and in many cases passed on to their teams and wider colleagues. It has also been used to prepare board papers and to help focus on “the what” rather than the peripherals. It has been found to have a wide range of applications: by using the framework provided by the 4MAT model it has given confidence more widely on presentation technique, it pinpointed reliance on notes and recognised this was hindering presentation skills.
The use of storytelling has been adopted by most participants and they have found it a very powerful way of conveying a message. The technique has been used in both lecturing & presenting and in one interesting case to underpin a development session.
Some of the linked techniques have also proven very effective e.g. using a technique where the presentation begins using a personal story, leaving it at a “cliffhanger” and then continuing with the presentation, eventually coming back to the personal story towards the end.
Other tools and techniques noted:
- NLP techniques
- Kinaesthetic auditing language
- Not over preparing and anticipating what would be said rather than living in the moment; now find they are picking up on what is not said a lot more.
- The Drama Triangle – this has proven useful in dealing with some difficult relationships and situations.
Having the ‘right’ kind of leaders and leadership to implement transformational change is crucial.
“We need leaders who can engage stakeholders during periods of transition and take people with them on the journey. We need leaders who can create and communicate a vision, widen the circle of involvement, connect people to each other, create communities for action whilst delivering results and creating a high performance culture. Our leaders also need to be able to motivate and influence individuals to make changes to what they do; make informed and timely decisions and build relationships with multiple stakeholders.”
It is clear from the evaluation that the Platform for Transformation Leadership Programme has empowered leaders across the North West, building their confidence, developing their self-awareness and allowing them to work with greater impact across the system. The programme has played an important part in developing a positive, inclusive and people-centred culture within the NHS, helping leaders to role model systems-based, honest and effective leadership.