Developing Collaborative Leadership – for health & care professionals, patients and citizens

Produced and delivered by The King’s Fund in partnership with the NHS South West Leadership Academy. Five days of training over five months co-presented by Mark Doughty and Tricia Boyle.

As the title suggests, this course was aimed at those in leadership roles across healthcare settings who wished to explore and develop their ways of working and leading, collaboratively.

The application process invited ‘trios’ to apply although our group formed a ‘quad’ of Chris Burford and Kerrie Dale from Devon Partnership Trust’s Together Programme, and Ian Henwood and myself from Recovery Devon. Although it should be mentioned Ian’s dual roles include working both as Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP) coordinator for Recovery Devon and as a coordinator for Together.

Other ‘trios’ included representatives from Langdon Hospital, an adolescent’s diabetes unit, Healthwatch and Derriford Hospital. Each trio had their own project with ours being ‘Together’, Langdon Hospital’s being smoking cessation as well as physical activity, the diabetes unit were looking to reduce physical appointments by using online resources and Healthwatch and Derriford were looking to better engage with their service users/patients.

We covered a variety of topics including how organisations and individuals can have dominant metaphors when communicating, the ways of understanding organisations as being mechanical, social or being systems in constant flux and we undertook an exercise in stakeholder mapping.

We also had the opportunity to apply our learning via peer consulting where a group presented an issue they were having to another with one person acting as an observer. Exploratory questions were asked and the group with the issue were encouraged to think about creative possible solutions.

We were provided with journals for reflective learning and considerable time was devoted to sharing our thoughts on our own individual learning, as a group and as part of a wider organisation.

I found the work looking at the difference between dialogue and debate particularly helpful as well as understanding the ‘dialogue mindset’ where ‘assumed power to change’ meets with ‘assumed positive intent’ to offer the most possible outcomes.

We also looked at transition management and the understanding that change will not happen unless a transition occurs.

Another revealing aspect of dialogue practices was the identification of differing roles held by individuals in conversation together. The ‘mover’, the ‘opposer’ the ‘follower’ and the ‘bystander’. It quickly became apparent that whilst an individual can move between these roles, we each identified with our preferred positions.

To summarise, I found this a worthwhile series of workshops and had the opportunity to learn helpful insights into working collaboratively from a leadership perspective. I valued the way each new topic was put into context with the healthcare sector and learning alongside leaders from healthcare outside of mental health gave an increased understanding of some of the issues they face.

Despite not personally being able to attend all five days our ‘quad’ was always represented and we were all saddened to learn of Mark’s health problems which led to Tricia taking over the final few workshops.

Taking the learning forward, I shall try and be more reflective concerning my leadership and will seek to engage in more dialogue than debate.

James Wooldridge

Recovery Devon

November 2017