Friday 14 February 2014


Fascinating move by Jeremy Hunt at DH to ask Stuart Rose to advise on how to turn around failing hospitals. He has been asked to look at organisational culture and how to mentor leaders.

I liked what he said:

"Leadership, motivating staff and creating a culture where people are empowered to do things differently are crucial to the success of any organisation."

This move is only a part of a determined effort by the health service to improve the quality of its leadership. Too often people in top positions in the public sector, and indeed elsewhere, think making improvements is all down to process and structure and regulation. That is important but the key difference a good Leader can make is often the crucial element in success. So Jeremy Hunt MP was right when he said about this announcement that “the difference between good and bad care can often lies in leadership."

But when I hear of initiatives like this I think about how poor our own sector often is on supporting leadership. Very little money is spent on developing leaders. There is a paucity of good quality leadership development.
Our own experience in ACEVO is that there has been a major drop in leaders attending development courses; partly money and partly time are to blame.

We do know that often it is one-to-one, tailored support that is key to development. Which is why ACEVO invests heavily in mentoring and advice and support services.  There has certainly been a big rise in demand for this. But I am not sure that we can neglect the more formal development support of the sort the NHS Academy is now providing. Where is our own Third Sector Leadership Academy? Where is the top academic support to be found?

One of the disasters of the claw back in central funding support for capacity building has been the decline in resources for leadership development. So I'm currently looking at what we might do to provide that top class quality input to the sector. It will require funding. And at a serious level so we are even looking for the first time at how we might fundraise for this.

I know our sector has strong leaders. However, we are sometimes complacent as we pat ourselves on the back and compare ourselves to greedy commerce and a bureaucratic public sector. There is a demonstrable need for better Leaders at many levels in the third sector. As public spending continues to contract, we need to make the difference through better-equipped Leaders. So we need to find ways to provide better Leadership development.

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