NHS Senior Leadership Onboarding and Support

Collaborating and systems leadership for all

Group of 4 people chatting

Collaboration has always been at the heart of great care. The transition to ICSs outlined in Working Together to Improve Health and Social Care For All will require further developments in ways of working across the NHS, local authorities, third sector and private organisations. The resources on this page seek to recognise the changing landscape of systems working and the changing relationships which will deliver the best care for patients across organisational boundaries. This way of working will also enable improvements in population health and reduction in health inequalities.

These new partnerships and ways of working challenge the development of skill sets around:

  • Thinking in a systemic way while balancing existing organisational demands
  • Being able to work with what emerges as well as what is planned
  • Seeking multiple perspectives and walking in each other’s shoes
  • Developing solutions through compromise
  • Building relationships with a system focus
  • Being self-reflective 
  • Being a supportive peer across a system

This theme supports development in the ‘Partnership’ domain of the Chair competency framework.

The resources below may support you as a board-level leader in any organisation to collaborate with others in the system.

Report: How might leadership roles in integrated health and care systems? – Social Care Institute for Excellence March 2021

Briefing: The challenges of developing Integrated Care Partnerships – a discussion NHS Confederation Nov 2021

Network: ICS Development Hub – Join this network on the NHS Futures platform to access latest guidance and the Integrated Care Learning Network

Report: Advancing Population Health Management – NHS Clinical Commissioners. This report brings together population health management stories from across England – led by clinical commissioners – to demonstrate the progress that has already been made in advancing this approach to healthcare, and what more can be done.

Learning Network: The Integrated Care Learning Network is an online space for colleagues working across health and care systems to come together and share experiences, knowledge and good practice. It contains up to date policy information and access to a range of system working networks and case studies.

Report: Health Equity in England: The Marmot Review 10 Years On The Health Foundation

Bulletin: Voluntary and community sector news E Bulletin Monthly bulletin with articles are provided by the three system partners (Public Health England, Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England and NHS Improvement).

Local Government Association Must Know Series: Integrated health and care – How do you know your council is doing all it can to promote integration to improve health and social care outcomes at a time of change?

Podcasts: NHS England / NHS Improvement integrated care focused podcasts featuring system leaders sharing their experiences.

Report: Kings Fund 2015 – The practice of system leadership: Being comfortable with chaos

Publication: The Art of Change Making – a compendium of models, theories and approaches drawing on what the Leadership Centre considers Systems Leadership Enablers. The chapters on adaptive leadership and complexity have been highly recommended. The Leadership Centre, 2015

Report: ‘The Revolution will be Improvised II’ gives stories from places around the country that have looked to use Systems Leadership to make progress on knotty and complex issues – not just the successes but the hurdles that people have overcome and what’s happened as a result. There are some brief case studies in there as well. The Leadership Centre, 2015.

Publication: ‘The Revolution will be Customised’, looks at using Systems Leadership approaches in introducing and sustaining digital innovation. The lessons learned and the factors involved are very interesting, including in relation to the leadership that made for success. The Leadership Centre, 2018.

Research: A summary of national and international research into Systems Leadership which goes into six key dimensions of Systems Leadership behaviours and links to longer, underlying research, including literature reviews and in-depth interviews. There’s also a helpful infographic on the back that plots external environmental issues against aspects of Systems Leadership approaches that are especially applicable. Virtual Staff College, October 2013.

Report: By the NHS Confederation – ‘Best Job in the World?’ outlines the views of new NHS chief executives on the changes in leadership approach and style that they believe will be required if the NHS is to meet the ambitions of the Long Term Plan. NHS Confederation, June 2019.

Case Study: Frimley’s collaborative leadership programme – this case study provides information on how the Frimley Health and Care System 20/20 leadership programme helps to improve collaborative system working.

Blog: John Coutts, Policy Advisor – NHS Providers ‘Public involvement, councils of governors and system working’ In a world of systems working, how do NHS Provider organisations and Councils move forward together? NHS Providers, June 2019.

Publication: ‘Building healthier communities: the role of the NHS as an anchor institution’ The Health Foundation, August 2019

infographic from the Health Foundation Article on the NHS as an anchor institution

Toolkit: NHS North West Leadership AcademyCitizen Leadership Toolkit. The Citizen Leadership programme was developed to activate community citizenship, empowering and enabling communities to mobilise their assets and apply leadership capabilities to engage decision makers in their localities. The resources required to deliver a programme in your locality are available to download for free online

Framework: NHS North West Leadership Academy System Leadership Behaviours Framework