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Systems Leadership

Systems Leadership is about how we lead across organisational boundaries and with different sectors. At the moment, we all struggle to make resources meet demand and we’re often trying to find solutions on our own to large and complex problems. Systems Leadership aims to bring organisations together in order to achieve better outcomes.

You will find below resources from our work so far below including presentations, articles and recommended reading.


Debbie Sorkin Masterclass
The first masterclass on 24 January 2017 was delivered by Debbie Sorkin, National Director of Systems Leadership at The Leadership Centre, followed by lunch and an afternoon workshop to discuss what we had learnt and how we could work together in South Manchester. The slides from Debbie's presentation are attached below (they are in two separate files).




Values and Leadership report  - this was produced following the Values and Leadership workshop held in July 2017

Recording of a Horizons NHS Leadership Development and Improvement Community presentation by Claire on 26 January 2018 - https://nhsiq.webex.com/nhsiq/ldr.php?  RCID=254222ca882b88beb0db170b40186856

Recommended reading


The Richmond Group of Charities published “Tapping the Potential”. This outlines some of the lessons learnt from their practical collaborative work in Somerset, and has a lot in common with our previous systems leadership approach in South Manchester. The full publication can be found at https://richmondgroupofcharities.org.uk/sites/default/files/tapping_the_potential_-_richmond_group_of_charities.pdf

Leading across the health and care system (2017) - The Kings Fund 
This paper offers those who are leading new systems of care some practical ways in which to work together to address the challenges they face. It draws on their work on the development of new care models (Collins 2016), sustainability and transformation plans (Ham et al 2017;Alderwick et al 2016), and accountable care organisations (ACOs) (Addicott et al 2015).

The Dawn of System Leadership (2015) - Stanford Social Innovation Review
'The deep changes necessary to accelerate progress against society's most intractable problems require a unique type of leader...'

In South Manchester, University Hospital South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with Macc, Manchester City Council, registered housing providers and VCSE sector colleagues secured a grant of £20,000 from the NHS North West Leadership Academy to develop a Systems Leadership culture among people interested in health, social care and wellbeing in South Manchester.

This programme launched on Tuesday 24 January 2017 and involved a series of masterclasses delivered by national and local leaders, exchange visits, shadowing opportunities, reflective learning and more.

The ambition was to foster a new culture where there is a desire by the public sector, housing providers, local authorities, the voluntary and community sector, healthcare providers and patient leaders to work collaboratively and use creative approaches in order to address the shared challenges that are faced across the community in line with the wider transformational programmes in Manchester.

Systems Leadership is a different model from the more managerial hierarchy and is focused on the ability to lead across the normal boundaries and sectors: how we can work together and influence even when we are not necessarily in direct control. Stakeholders in South Manchester recognised that they are all working towards the same principles and values, but none of the organisations are capable of finding a solution on their own. We are all facing reduced resources and increased demand and believe that the way forward involves pooling resources, forgetting institutional modes of behaviour and bringing our talents, experiences, enthusiasm and ideas together to co-produce new solutions.

This programme also gave us the opportunity to discuss what Systems Leadership means for clinical leadership and enabled us to acknowledge that clinical approaches alone don’t address everything that impacts upon an individual’s health and wellbeing. Clinical leaders were supported through this work to collaborate wider and build new relationships with people across sectors and work in a new way with patients themselves to develop a more person-centred and holistic approach. This work was clinically led, but raised awareness of community-based solutions that can provide additional support to address the social determinants of health that sit outside clinical and medical approaches.

Systems Leadership can create a new partnership across sectors and with people that are using services to co-produce a health care system for the future and redefine what it means to be healthy and live well.

Debbie Sorkin, National Director of Systems Leadership, The Leadership Centre wrote a Systems Leadership for Beginners blog which explains what this model is all about -

For more information on Systems Leadership, please contact Claire Tomkinson - claire@macc.org.uk