Leadership and the primary task – a view from the NHS

Dr. David Ashton - David Ashton Development

DA photoDavid works with individuals and teams to improve their personal and collective development. He approaches this work using a range of psychologically based methodologies dependent on the context and nature of the required development.

David trained as a general nurse in 1974 and worked clinically for 17 years in acute care including surgery, neurosurgical and cardio-thoracic intensive care and accident and emergency. He held a range of senior roles in nursing, HR and general management leading large operational delivery focussed services and capital schemes and also complex organisational and cross system change programmes.

His work in the field of organisational development began in earnest when he was the OD lead in a combined acute, mental health and primary care trust. From here he worked as a divisional general manager for seven years before becoming Co-Director of the Learning Alliance, a self-funding NHS trading agency specialising in organisational and team development. David’s area of specialism was to work with boards experiencing difficult interpersonal dynamics and also with clinicians in senior roles, typically medical and clinical directors. His work with clinicians formed the subject matter of his PhD which examines the inter and intra personal emotional dynamics of role transition and the psychological contract at work.

Latterly he worked as Head of Practice at the NHS Leadership Academy where his portfolio included the design, development, delivery and oversight of a range of leadership programmes including Top Leaders, a personal development programme for senior executives and Ready Now - a programme supporting BME staff looking to move into more senior roles. He also supervised the Academy’s Faculty of thirty practitioners and oversaw the development of a range of bespoke organisational development interventions.

He has worked extensively as a coach with individuals and teams helping them to understand and improve their inter personal work relationships and in particular with services wishing to improve or reposition themselves in the system.

After just over 40 years in the NHS David now works independently both in the UK and abroad. He continues to work as a personal and team coach and much of his current work is in the area of diversity, power and privilege particularly in relation to ethnicity. Whilst much of his work is in the field of health and care he now also works with senior teams in the education sector, with board members and directors of a large FTSE 100 engineering firm and with a global pharmaceutical company. In addition to academic papers and book chapters on change and leadership he is co-editor of ‘How to be a nurse or midwife leader’ published by Wiley-Blackwell in 2017.

A key role for chief executives and very senior leaders is to set strategy in relation to their current and potential future contexts.  However, the primary task, or more often tasks, are often open to interpretation and may in fact be in conflict.

During this session we will look at how this manifests in the NHS and explore some models that have been used make sense of this complex dynamic.

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