Making it happen: more on leadership

In the fourth and final article in a series on leadership, CSP adviser Nina Paterson sums up some of the key messages.

We started this series in the 4 February issue with a poem titled "The Leader" and a simple message. Leaders are made by necessity, a sense of urgency and desire from within. They don’t stand on the sidelines: they see a need and act. 
Let’s go back to the first article in the series,where you were invited to identify changes you wanted to bring about or a goal you wanted to achieve. This article focuses on making this happen.
In the second and third articles (4 March and 6 May) we explored getting to know yourself and others – how you, and they, think, feel, and behave in order to communicate effectively and develop alliances. The third article ended with some exercises that introduced the idea of analysing and examining the values, behaviours, norms, assumptions of the teams and organisations around you. The aim was to identify potential barriers and issues. This is where we’ll pick up ...


If you are looking to bring about any cultural change, such as people’s behaviour or values, it is worth doing some in-depth thinking. Planning for all eventualities is known as a cultural audit.
Start by creating a set of questions (what questions you use will depend on your context).
Those below are provided to give you a flavour:
  • of the type of questions to ask 
  • what’s the vision?
  • what values drive the organisation?
  • how are decisions made?
  • what is the management style? 
  • how risk averse is the organisation?
  • what are the structures (physical,technological, processes) like?
  • what is the communication style?
  • what do stakeholders (your patients, management, other colleagues) think?
  • what external factors influence the organisation, such as financial constraints and competition?


Whether we’re talking service transformation, refocusing your business, or making a change to the procedures that your team adhere to, you’ll need to plan.
Many models are available. If you work for the NHS, you’ll have templates to support you to deliver projects. They work just as well for smaller-scale activities: all that really differs is the scale of the exercise.
  • What do you want to achieve? We covered this in the first article. This is your ‘scope’. Use this to define what success will look like. You may findthat the scope changes over time for good reason. If so, redefine it, ensure that this is agreed by all involved then communicate this change of direction to everyone that needs to know. In the first and second articles in the series we discussed the benefits of motivation and communication, but defining the aim will also help you to focus.
  • Write down your plan, using any tool that works for you. There are plenty to choose from:  mind maps, spreadsheets, Gantt charts, action plans, project planning templates, white boards, flip-charts). Break down your planning into smaller chunks.
  • Return to your earlier ‘thinking stage’ to draw out any risks/identify issues and think about how to resolve them or build in contingencies.
  • You’ll need to think about how these activities fit together. Put them in sequential order and be clear about which activities are linked. This will help you manage delays and, if other people are involved, you’ll be able to tell them when they’ll be needed.  


And now it’s time to act, to carry out your plan.
  • Share the load. Let others play a part. Use the attributes and skills gained from the first three articles to motivate and inspire others, but let them be involved; better yet, let them own the change themselves. When you’ve achieved your goal, share the success with them too.
  • Keep watch over the whole plan, as well as the smaller chunks. Amend your timelines accordingly, know when you are ahead, and when things are slipping. When you hit a barrier, your earlier contingency planning will help.
  • Communicate! If you alteryour schedule, tell everyone. If you have someone championing your cause, keep them in the loop.  
And this is where we finish; full circle back from where we started. If you are looking to bring about a change in culture, such as behavioural change, you’ll need to be prepared for others to disagree. Be in it for the long haul: change doesn’t happen overnight. Create some space in your own head, work with others and build alliances. 
And, importantly, go right back to the first set of questions, asking ‘why does this matter?’ Hold on to these questions to motivate yourself. fl

CPD activity

This activity is straightforward. Go back to the beginning to what you wanted to achieve. Use the principles outlined in the article and take some time to plan your project. And finally, what are you waiting for? Good luck!
If this series has sparked your interest you might like to explore some of the topics listed below:  
  • self-awareness
  • political awareness
  • understanding health & social care environments
  • making a case (using data, and policy to influence and persuade)
  • change management
  • project management
  • resilience
You’ll find a wealth of resources available including books, journal articles, conferences and courses.
Nina Paterson

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