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System leadership

We worked with the Leadership Centre to look at what difference Systems Leadership could make to population health.

Through research and a number of interviews conducted with a number of key people across the region, we developed a report which recognises that the challenge of improving population health and wellbeing is a multi-faceted, complex one, with no certainty and no single answer.

We commissioned the Leadership Centre to: summarise the evidence on effective interventions to build system leadership capacity and capability; identify, target and work with, the system leaders and enablers to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for London and the South East (Kent, Surrey and Sussex); identify existing and planned products and programmes that these leaders can access (may vary by geography and sector); make recommendations on how to build on existing resources; making practical suggestions on how to meet gaps identified.

In the course of its enquiry, the Leadership Centre included the following components:

A broad variety of evidence was considered from a wide range of learning artefacts, including existing peer-reviewed work undertaken around systems leadership; the knowledge base of previous experiential learning from systems leadership work undertaken in different contexts; and consideration was given to the theoretical underpinnings of such work, and its effect on interventions. This evidence was then mined for the most effective interventions that would be applicable to the Academy of Public Health in developing and refining a plan of action for the enquiry. It also helped formulate the identification of whom the relevant systems leaders are.

This consisted of a wide-ranging overview of the development opportunities around systems leadership already available to the Academy. Although its focus was on programmes in London and the South East, it was broad enough to include development opportunities both nationally and internationally which were available to applicants from London and the South East.

It was not limited to formal, structured training programmes - although it included these - but also embraced a number of resources and information-sharing opportunities available, including speaking to the practitioners.

As part of the initial scoping work, wider public health programmes were also identified, before being narrowed down to development opportunities with a relevant systems leadership component. These were then tested against a set of systems leadership content criteria, to identify which of these public health development opportunities have a high systems leadership content, creating the materials for an up-to-date directory resource for the Academy.

The Leadership Centre worked through the initial scoping and interviews work to identify the differing needs of systems leaders across London and the South East. In particular, special care was given to connecting these with the Academy of Public Health’s own makeup, and its need to develop a more sustainable long-term capacity around systems leadership delivery, and the forging of networks to foster innovation and successful.

The conclusion to the report shows that to respond to the complex issue of population health and well-being leaders need to actively source new ideas and people to work with, consistently generating new approaches and tactics to challenges. Our next steps will involve the creation of a webpage for people to review the report as well as being able to access the links to the training available for those looking to develop their skills.