What’s It Like Being A Leader In The NHS?

Many people start out on their career, seeking to go as far as they can.  Ultimately this usually means moving from just working in your area of professional or technical expertise to a much broader leadership role.

I made this transition myself starting out at the very bottom in Finance in the NHS to a role at Board level as a Director of Finance.  So what is like being a leader in the NHS?


It’s a word that is sometimes over used but one that I believe is very relevant to leading in the NHS.  There are always going to be areas where there is a need to improve.  Sometimes quickly, sometimes over a more extended period.


When I was a Finance Director one of the most rewarding things was being part of the Directors On Call rota.  Having responsibility for making sure that the hospital functions well out of hours for several weeks of the year lets you see first hand the real challenges people deal with hour after hour, day after day.


This might seem like a surprising thing to have on the list.  Let me explain why I have included it.  Like most I assumed that those in leadership roles would be decisive.  Sadly this was not always the case.  Those at the most senior level were sometimes the worst at procrastinating.

Perhaps this is not that surprising as when you are at a senior level you are accountable so the stakes are high.


You know that what you do is impacting on something that matters to us all.  Few of us will go through life without using several of the services.

Knowing that you are shaping or contributing to something of real significance is really exciting.

Lonely At Times

I can recall a Partner at one of the accounting firms saying how being a Finance Director was a lonely existence.  At the time I did not fully appreciate what he was saying.  Once I was in the role I got what he meant 100%.  It can be a lonely existence at times.

A Great Place To Learn About Yourself

You are often in a situation where you are dealing with something new or something outside of your comfort zone.  It’s at these times you really learn about yourself and what you can achieve, even when you are up against it.

What else would you add based on your own experiences?

Duncan Brodie of Goals and Achievements helps professionals to become even better leaders.