Setting The Tone As An NHS Leader

In large organisations, including the NHS, the behaviours that are adopted by individuals, groups and teams depends to a large degree on the culture of the organisation.


Organisational culture is one of those areas that is talked about a lot.  We hear about the challenges of creating the right type of culture and there is no shortage of advice on how to create the right type of culture.


In many ways the culture comes from the top.  What you support and encourage as a leadership team determines what stance people take.


Yet in reality I wonder how many leadership teams take the time to get really clear about the type of culture they want to have.  Now let’s not pretend this is easy.  The operational demands mean that is all too easy to get sucked into the here and now.  After all if you don’t ever take the time to stand back, people are more likely to do what they think is wanted rather than what they know is wanted.


And the truth is, even taking a short period of time out of a meeting to stop, think and provide some clarity is a huge step forward.


The easiest and most effective way to do this is to use a set of simple but searching questions.  These include:


  • What do we want to have a reputation for as a local NHS organisation?
  • What behaviours do we need to have to ensure we live up to our reputation?
  • How do we need to behave and act as a leadership team to practice what we require from others?
  • How will we respond when we are not quite on the right track?


The reality is that it is easy to get lost in all the detail.  In truth keeping it simple is more likely to get clarity and to make the communication and implementation across the organisation easier.


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