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Care to Lead – delivering health service leadership development for our customer

In 2020, our client, the South Metropolitan Area Health Service (SMHS), partnered with our HR Managed Service team at Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) to design and pilot a new programme to accelerate the development of leadership capabilities for new and emerging health service leaders.

The request for support came directly from the SMHS Executive Team, who have a high regard for the strong engagement and effective leadership among our management team at FSH:

“SMHS is on a mission-critical journey of cultural evolution,” says Victoria Taylor-McCann, Senior Operations Manager – People, Safety and Quality. “Recognising that leadership capability is an essential element in their cultural transformation, they came to us and asked, ‘How do you do it?’ They have seen first-hand how our leaders are truly accountable for their teams and services, with a caring and inclusive style that helps to drive service-enhancing engagement.”

An SMHS/Serco partnership steering committee was established, and the decision made to create a customised version of Serco’s own internal ‘Horizons’ leadership development programme.

As lead sponsor for the project, Victoria engaged organisational development and instructional design specialists from our FSH team to develop and deliver a pilot of the new SMHS ‘Care to Lead Program’.

“Our OD Specialist, Anthony Hedge, undertook a deeply consultative customisation process to help us ensure the program addresses leadership in a clinical context, including in-depth needs analysis with 35 leaders from various clinical disciplines and careful alignment with the SMHS leadership capability framework.”

The pilot ran from August to October 2020, with 24 participants from the Fiona Stanley, Rockingham General and Fremantle hospitals, including heads of service, nurse unit managers, doctors, clinicians and administrative staff.

Through a blend of learning approaches – including classroom, coaching, psychological assessment and on-the-job ‘homework’ – the pilot cohort were immersed in a holistic approach to leadership, focused on serving and leading simultaneously.

“As with our own development programs, Care to Lead is all about learning through doing –reinforcing and embedding new ways of thinking, new behaviours and new ways of working.”

Specific Care to Lead objectives include developing:

  • self-awareness, wellbeing, emotional intelligence and self-leadership;

  • the skills to help team members grow their capability in delivering sustainable performance and patient care;

  • a ‘stewardship’ mindset, focused on the greater good of the hospital, with the courage to challenge conventional thinking and practice;

  • a firm foundation of essential skills for people leadership, such as building relationships, enhancing trust, constructive conversations, delivering feedback, coaching and managing conflict; and

  • the capability and confidence to initiate and influence positive change in their areas of responsibility.

In this they were closely supported by the Serco team, and by their own managers and experienced leaders from across the organisation who helped to facilitate their development.

The Care to Lead pilot was very well received by all participants:

“The group’s appetite for supported leadership development was palpable,” says Victoria. “They embraced the opportunity wholeheartedly. Their managers have also responded positively, sharing that the pilot group have been visibly stepping up and putting their skills into practice.”