There has been some debate recently about the role of the ‘Superhead’ in education and whether or not it would work in healthcare. The theory being that we could have SuperCEOs that will start to manage the struggling providers and pull them round to being successful organisations.
What about the reality?
I’m not sure that this works as healthcare is a very complex system and organisations are struggling for a variety of reasons, not necessarily just due to the leadership. Heroic leadership is a dangerous principle particularly when the average tenure of an NHS CEO is 700 days!
Seven hundred fantastic days with the SuperCEO at the helm and then the slow demise of the organisation, this doesn’t sound like the right answer to me.
Organisations need leaders at all levels. Distributed leadership drives innovation and change. We need to not only engage with staff but also empower them to be part of the solution. Leaders are found at all different levels and in all different professions and often in the most unexpected of places. The truly heroic leader is the one who seeks this out, identifies the individuals and supports them to make the change the individual themselves wants to see.
The professional stand off between clinicians and managers still appears to exist in pockets of the NHS but it has had its’ day. Collaboration and distributed leadership need to be the vanguard of the New NHS. The CQC well-led domain is starting to be able to correlate a direct relationship between the relationship between the managers and consultants and the quality of patient care.
This feels to me as though the staff within those organisations have lost sight of what is important and why we go to work every day – the patient. Without them, there would be no NHS.
Distributed leadership allows clinicians, admin staff, therapists, managers at all levels contribute to the organisation and ultimately the patient experience.
The age old adage of together we stand, divided we fall, has never been so true.
The NHS is facing extreme financial pressure in 2015/16 and this is a burning platform that the combined efforts of the 1.3million staff within the NHS need to pull together to work through, rather than pulling the NHS apart.
I am a great believer in people and feel the NHS is made up of a huge amount of talented and dedicated people. We just need to find a way to unlock that talent and creativity towards the greater good of the NHS and not wait for SuperCEO to put his/her pants on the outside of their trousers and come to our rescue.