The importance of leadership

Leadership and management are two different things. Managers need to plan, measure, monitor, coordinate, solve, hire, fire, and so many other things. Typically, managers manage things. According to Kevin Kruse, “leadership is a process of social influence, which maximises the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal” (Kruse, What is Leadership, 2013).

Our goal here is for our health and social care system to become fully inclusive. We need all managers in the NHS also to be leaders and influence others to help us achieve that goal.

Being a manager does not automatically mean you are a leader, and not having a managerial status does not exclude you from being a leader.

Therefore, regardless of their authority, we are looking for people to become leaders and influencers because social influence is leadership.

According to the The Race Equality Code 2020, “real change only happens when you are able to influence leadership. This has to start at the board and with its executive management, where there is transparency and accountability”.

Expectations and questions for leaders?

  • Are you helping to create a working culture free from racism?
  • Have you started the conversation about racism?
  • Have you got a plan to help the NHS and social care lead on race equality and inclusion?
  • Do you lead by example?
  • Do you hold yourself and others accountable for any lack of progress in addressing racism?
  • Have you developed an active anti-racist action plan?
  • Do you speak up where staff experience bullying and harassment?
  • Have you created an inclusive workforce to improve staff experience and health outcomes?
  • Are you creating an environment where staff Health and wellbeing are protected?

Change means taking radical action

Action speaks louder than words- we don’t want another strategy that looks good on paper but does not affect change. Instead, we want actions that make a difference in improving people’s life.

Our strategy in the Midlands needs to reflect a radical approach owned from board to ward. According to Peter Drucker, “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and a strategy is only as good as the people implementing its plan.

By radical, we mean:

  • Being courageous
  • Taking positive risks
  • Being prepared to do things that haven’t been done before and measuring their effectiveness
  • Learn how to modify challenging initiatives if not initially successful
  • Supporting those who challenge the status quo

What must we stop doing?

  • Seeing racism as other people’s business
  • Staying silent when seeing and hearing racist behaviours
  • Protecting those who are causing harm through incivility
  • Asking Black, Asian and other minority ethnic (BME) people to fix the problem of racism
  • Waiting for more data as an excuse not to act
  • Saying that racism has been dealt with
  • Passing the responsibility to others
  • Leading if you cannot acknowledge racism is a significant problem
  • Seeing people who are from a BME background as a homogenous group

What we must do?

  • Remove barriers to inclusive and compassionate health and wellbeing support
  • Lead with compassion and inclusion
  • Remove barriers to help staff speak up
  • Tackle racism, bullying, harassment, and other types of discrimination
  • Eliminate racism and bias in disciplinaries
  • Celebrate and reward success
  • Develop a collaborative approach across Systems
  • Build accountability across the region.
  • Eliminate racism and bias in recruitment and progression

This strategy is a live document to stimulate discussion and generate ideas that will contribute to the ongoing fight against racism and inequalities. We need active engagement from all staff across all sectors. Everybody can contribute, and our actions are not to be seen in isolation.