The Culture and Leadership programme

Six circular images are arranged in a circle around a central circle titled culture and leadership programme. Vision and values is represented by a person with a telescope in orange. Goals and performance is represented by a mountain with a flag on top in pink. Learning and innovation is represented by two new shoots/leaves in green. Support and compassion is a heart in red. Equity and inclusion shows three hands reaching up, in three different sizes and shades of purple with a globe behind them. Team work is shown with a grey and a light blue puzzle piece. The six cultural elements are connected with grey and blue interweaving lines.We support organisations through all phases of the Culture and Leadership Programme, a modular programme which provides opportunities for organisations to understand their own culture using evidence-based tools, develop tailored leadership strategies for developing compassionate, inclusive and collective leadership and deliver culture change.

Why the culture and leadership programme?

The culture of NHS systems, and those organisations within it, is crucial to ensuring the delivery of high-quality, safe and effective patient care. From a People perspective, we see the impact in levels of bullying and harassment, discrimination, sickness absence and presenteeism, staff turnover, and attraction of new staff.

A culture that values our people as individuals is the way we will hold onto our people and recruit the next generation. It also recognises that “inclusive cultures depend on inclusive leaders”.

The benefits of the culture and leadership programme

Compassionate and inclusive working environments also positively impact staff engagement; an increase of 0.12 in staff engagement scores within the NHS staff survey correlate with a 0.9% decrease in agency spending, saving £1.7 million for the average trust.

Read the report Employee engagement, sickness absence and agency spend in NHS trusts for further information.

Read more about the impact our colleagues are seeing as a result of using the Cculture and leadership programme in our evidence base pages.

What kind of leadership do we need?

Research shows that the most powerful factor influencing culture is leadership. We partnered with the King’s Fund and the Centre for Creative Leadership to develop practical support and resources to help health and care organisations to improve their culture. Three pilot NHS trusts have helped design and test every aspect of these to make sure they have lasting value for you.

About the resources

These resources, first published in 2016, have now been implemented by over 80 NHS organisations, as well as a number of healthcare organisations internationally. The programme and resources have also been independently evaluated. The resources have recently been revised in order to reflect learning from this work and ensure they are relevant and helpful to you.

Read the summary formative evaluation of NHS England’s Culture and Leadership Programme, conducted by the University of Manchester Alliance Manchester Business School, and the University of Birmingham.

What are the underpinning concepts?

The Culture and Leadership Programme provides a practical, evidence-based approach to help you understand how colleagues working within your organisation or system perceive the current culture, and guides you to create and implement a collective leadership strategy, structured around six cultural elements and leadership behaviours, in order to create truly compassionate and inclusive working environments where all colleagues can thrive.

The programme is structured around four phases, with the following pages addressing each of these in turn, with tools and guidance aimed at helping you to: effectively prepare for your programme of activity in the Scoping Phase; diagnose and understand your current culture in the Discovery Phase; develop your culture strategy in the Design Phase; and put that plan into action in the Delivery Phase.Culture and Leadership Programme foru phase structure - scoping, discovery, design, delivery

In this short video from our online learning course, Dr Katy Steward, former Head of Culture Transformation at NHS England, describes the conceptual framework behind the programme, and the practical four-phase cycle described above. You can learn more about the Culture and Leadership Programme through our online learning course, Nurturing Compassionate and Inclusive NHS Cultures, on our online learning page.

What is compassionate and inclusive leadership?

Compassionate leadership in practice means leaders listening with fascination to those they lead, arriving at a shared (rather than imposed) understanding of the challenges they face, empathising with and caring for them, and then taking action to help or support them (The King’s Fund). By listening, recognising and understanding the unique experiences of the individual, and the barriers they face, you are in a better position to empathise and help in an inclusive way.

What is collective leadership?

When we refer to ‘collective leadership’, we mean a type of culture where staff at all levels are empowered as individuals, within and between teams to act to improve care within and across health and care organisations and systems – ‘leadership of all, by all and for all’.

What is a change team?

The change team are a group of people (staff, patient representatives, partners) who carry out the culture and leadership programme within an organisation or system.

The change team is a crucial vehicle for staff engagement and it will be most effective if it is multidisciplinary and diverse – championing a compassionate, diverse and inclusive leadership approach. They work to engage colleagues across the organisation, listen to their experiences and collate these, disseminate learning and influence the future culture of the organisation.

The following pages break down each step of the programme to help you on your culture change journey:

The evidence base
What’s involved in getting started? Scoping phase
How do I understand my organisation’s culture now? Discovery phase
How do I take action? Design phase
How do I implement a culture strategy? Delivery phase

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