Two experts from the fields of nursing and leadership have joined forces to produce a whitepaper to help educate leaders at all levels in the NHS on the importance of moving away from traditional forms of leadership in favour of a more host-based approach.
Dr Mark McKergow is an international leadership speaker and consultant. He is co-author of Host: Six new rules roles of engagement for teams, organisations, communities and movements (Solutions Books, 2014). Annessa Rebair MSc BSc(Hons) RMN is Senior Lecturer of Mental Health at Northumbria University, Trustee of UK charity PAPYRUS (prevention of young suicide) and leadership coach.
In the whitepaper, McKergow and Rebair discuss the various issues surrounding leadership and nursing and provide practical suggestions on how to move away from the traditional leadership styles that are simply not compatible with the evolving requirements of 21st Century nursing management.
Mark and Annessa decided to produce the whitepaper after a number of recent reports and statements from within the industry cited better leadership at all levels of the NHS as being a crucial point.
The Kings Fund report ‘No More Heroes’ (2011) specifically challenges the notion of how leadership is used in a contemporary National Health Service:
‘The old model of ‘heroic’ leadership by individuals needs to adapt to become one that understands other models such as shared leadership both within organisations and across the many organisations with which the NHS has to engage in order to deliver its goals.’
This suggests that the idea of individual leadership appears to be unfit for purpose in the current climate of health care and rather there is a requirement to ‘focus on developing the organisation and its teams, not just individuals, on leadership across systems of care rather than just institutions, and on followership as well as leadership.’
Mark McKergow says:
“Modern leadership writing shows a broad distinction between ‘hero’ leaders who get results by authority, hard work and expertise, and post-heroic leaders who see their role as being about getting results though bringing others together in a way which allows maximum contribution from the others, not treating them as foot soldiers.
This is a journey of development and increasing awareness. Most people start out assuming that hero leadership is the way to do it – after all, the idea is woven through our culture, our movies and our stories. The nursing context reinforces this starting point. However, leaders who want to succeed at higher levels will need to learn to develop their style, to get the most out of others in terms of creative and constructive input, as well as hard work.”
Annessa Rebair adds:
“It is necessary within the nursing profession for us to move forward from a heroic leadership style to one where the leader is responsible for their team’s success. The long-term challenge is for the NHS is to build engagement throughout all levels of nursing, and the development of nurses capable of such a shift is therefore even more vital given the prevailing promote-from-within culture. Host Leadership offers an accessible yet rich and flexible notion to help leaders to quickly expand their skills and mindsets in this direction.
The need to be able to take command in an authoritative way is clear – the wider question is whether that is always the best thing to do, and how this option can sit within a wider coherent set of leadership behaviours.”