Our Connection event on 15 May brought together colleagues from across the Surrey Heartlands Integrated Care System to examine System Leadership.

System Leadership has been defined by the Kings Fund as “The ability to engage people and groups outside one’s formal control and inspire them to work towards shared goals – despite differences in convictions, cultural values and operating environments.”

It was a thought-provoking afternoon with some excellent speakers who really gave the delegates a lot to consider and to take away.

Our headline speaker was Myron Rogers, who is a consultant, author and global thought leader, and he treated delegates to a masterclass on reflections on system leadership in Surrey Heartlands. It was a fascinating presentation which included a number of exercises to get participants connected with people they’d not previously met, and some really interesting, engaging conversations were made.

Myron left the audience with a number of his ‘maxims’; his criteria for systemic design and radical co-creation:

  • People own what they help create
  • Real change takes place in real work
  • The people who do the work do the change
  • Connect the system to more of itself
  • Start anywhere, follow it everywhere
  • The process we use to get to the future is the future we get.

Good system leadership is very much about creating strong relationships, and this was echoed in the presentation by Sarah Parker, our Director of Transformation and the Academy, who spoke of the challenges of system leadership.   

She defined some of the issues – namely that systems are complex; organisation, team and professional cultures vary and uniting them can be tricky. The separate evolution of health and care, and innate human behaviour may inadvertently get in the way – and then stressed that creating lasting relationships between organisations and individuals really is the key to progress and making change.

With this in mind, the first two cohorts on our new system leadership programme, Surrey 500, will start their training this month. Aimed at 500 leaders across our health and care system, this brand new programme will help our front line workforce and those already in leadership roles overcome barriers and foster a culture of collaboration across our system. It is Surrey Heartlands’ first large-scale leadership programme offering the opportunity to learn with colleagues working right across the system, and is an exciting time for us.

Importantly, it focuses on system leadership rather than the traditional theories of management and leadership, and the participants will work together on how to become catalysts for change and action.

Karen Archer-Burton, Surrey Heartlands’ Organisational Development Network Lead, gave an insightful presentation on the programme and there was a great deal of interest and questions from delegates.   

Our final session was a discussion around multi-professional leadership where the local experiences of system leaders were shared. Valerie Bartlett, ICP Programme Director for North West Surrey, and Giles Mahoney, ICP Director for Guildford & Waverley and Director of Specialist Commissioning and Cancer, spoke of their roles, and then fielded a great many probing questions from the audience. They shared some very useful insights and their answers to the questions were particularly interesting.

Our Academy Connection events are held three times a year to offer an opportunity to connect with partners and stakeholders and to build long term, productive relationships. The events also showcase both local and national best practice and innovation, and explore important topics.

They are organised by the Surrey Heartlands Academy, a virtual network which supports clinicians to adopt, share and evaluate innovation, research and best practice.