Improving Together: Leadership in action; modelling our new values | News and events

Improving Together: Leadership in action; modelling our new values

On Wednesday last week, I was absolutely thrilled and delighted to lead our first safer, kinder and better leadership conference in Norwich.  

Over 400 leaders from across our organisation came together to reflect on some of our Trust-wide successes over the last six months. We also spent time thinking about our future, and how best we can all work together to maximise our leadership to deliver better outcomes for our service users, families, carers, our partners and our staff. It was so good to see so many of our colleagues in person rather than on screen.  

Through the day, we homed in on a few golden threads we have really got to get right to improve and change the culture of our organisation. This will help us to focus on our four strategic priorities: improving health, improving care, improving culture and improving value.  

Three key areas we talked about were the importance of kind, compassionate leadership and, recognising everyone for who they are, their background and their views, whether this be our service users, families, carers and our staff. In addition, we also focussed on the importance of civility; all vital to help us become a more inclusive organisation.  

Three fabulous speakers joined us for the day to explore the absolute importance of compassionate leadership, inclusivity and civility.  

Professor Michael West CBE led an excellent session on the power of compassionate leadership. Michael is internationally recognised for his outstanding work in this area and assisted in developing the national People Plan for the NHS in England and in Northern Ireland in developing the Collective and Compassionate Leadership Strategy for Health and Social Care.  

I have known and worked with Michael for many years in previous Trusts I have led and supported and was truly delighted with the conversation and engagement our leaders had with this vitally important session. If we are truly going to improve outcomes and experiences for our service users, families, carers and our staff, compassionate leadership and being kind is something we must all role model, day in, day out.  

I really like the slide below from Michael’s presentation which captures the importance and significance of compassionate leadership beautifully.  

Slide on compassionate leadership

I was thrilled that Yvonne Coghill CBE was also able to join us. Yvonne started her career in the NHS as a nurse in 1977. She developed her career in management and was Director of the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) in NHS England until 2023. I have had the pleasure to know and work with Yvonne for many years and I am delighted to confirm that Yvonne will be working with us at NSFT over the next 12 months to help us with our improvement work linked to reducing race inequality.  

Yvonne spoke passionately about the vital link between the experiences of our Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) staff in the workplace and overall service user, families and carer experience.  

As an organisation, we must take our commitment to addressing race inequality seriously. Yvonne described the 8 As of Allyship during her session which perfectly describe what we must all do as senior leaders across our organisation to address race inequality. Please do take a look at the image below and I ask you all as leaders and staff across our organisation to think about what this means to you and your teams.  

Stages of appreciation

Hannah Forbes, founder and Director of Listening into Action nationally also shared some of her reflections on our Listening into Action programme at NSFT since its launch in November 2023. Like Hannah, I am really pleased with how staff across our organisation are embracing the programme to remove barriers and make positive changes for the better. Pioneer teams are starting to storm ahead with a range of programmes across the Trust.  

Over lunch, our leaders were asked to identify a Listening into Action quick win and share a commitment they would take back into our organisation. I was delighted by the number and breadth of these commitments – we had almost 100 quick win commitments just from the conference alone and more keep coming in. If you didn’t get chance to make a commitment on the day due to the very busy networking opportunities that took place, please continue to make these by filling in the Listening into Action Quick Win form .  

In the afternoon, I had the privilege of welcoming Dr Chris Turner to speak with passion and determination on the importance of civility. Chris made it crystal clear on how being kind, compassionate and reflective can directly improve the culture of any organisation.  

Chris is a consultant in emergency medicine at the University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire. He is interested in governance and high performing teams, and this has led him on a journey from being blame and process focused to something completely different: Civility Saves Lives, a campaign that aims to raise awareness of the impact of behaviour on performance. Over the last few years this idea has gained momentum and traction across healthcare and beyond. He has spoken around the world on the topic including at the Houses of Parliament and has given 2 TEDx talks.  

For me, Chris’ work and his campaign really matters. Most excellent healthcare is dependent on teams, and teams work best when all members feel safe and have a voice. Civility between team members creates that sense of safety and is a key ingredient of great teams. Incivility, on the other hand, robs teams of their potential. The impact then is felt far and wide and impacts on our ability to deliver the best possible care.  

What struck all our leaders was the following very simple yet extremely effective take away message:  

“When we treat each other well, we get better outcomes. When we treat or speak to people negatively, outcomes will always be poor.”  

As leaders, our priority must be to support our staff, whatever their role, wherever they work to be the best they can. With this in mind, we must always model kind, compassionate values behaviours.  

Towards the end of Chris’ session, and also mentioned in a question and answer panel at the end of the conference, was another absolutely vital take home message.  

“We don’t want people to role model behaviours of values because they feel they must; it needs to be because they genuinely want to. We must create an environment people are happy to be in and work in; if they aren’t, then we can’t expect anyone to live and breathe organisational values.”  

To wrap up my blog today, I want to end with the launch of our new organisation values and behaviours which have been built on what you have told us; we have so much information and insight into our challenges, frustrations and opportunities.  

Specifically, our values and behaviours have been built using information from our latest staff survey, big conversation exercise, Listening into Action and more. Over 3,000 staff comments have been analysed to arrive at our new values and behaviours which will support us to deliver our vision, strategic priorities and large-scale change programmes.  

Quite simply, together, we TALK :

  • We work together as one Team
  • We are Accountable  for our actions
  • We Learn and Improve together
  • We are Kind

It’s important our new values and behaviours work together, complement each other and can help us to become a safer, kinder and better organisation in what we do, how we do things, individually and collectively.  

Our values are what we aspire to as an organisation. At our leadership conference, we focused on all of our new values and behaviours and discussed how we can make them a reality.  

Our collective approach and commitment to living and breathing these values is how we will achieve our vision of safer, kinder, better. The graphic overleaf is a helpful summary of our new behaviours, please do discuss these in your team meetings.  

Finally, I wanted to end by saying a huge thank you to many of our clinical and non-clinical leaders who were able to join us last week. The conversations, networking and commitments made at the conference were excellent. A really excellent summary of our discussion can be found in the impressive wall art below.  

Wall art introducing the speakers of the Leadership Conference

We all left with a strong sense of hope, determination and genuine will to succeed to make our organisation a safer, kinder and better one.  

If you weren’t able to join us then please don’t worry, resources from the day are available on our all-staff intranet and your executive directors and peers w ill reach out to you to bring you fully up to speed.  

As always, I look forward to continue working with our service users, families, carers, staff and partners to deliver on our four priorities, large scale change programmes and truly embed our new organisation values and behaviours.  

Only by working together can we improve outcomes and experiences for our service users, families, carers and our staff.  

Until next time,


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