My Leadership Principles

One of the things that is really important to me is value based leadership.

Being clear about what you value is critical every day, and particularly in tough times. Sight of what you value, and of purpose, is the thing that, for me, got lost in Mid Staffordshire and Winterbourne View. Value based leadership has helped me reform services, improve care, carry one organisation through its abolition and another on a journey from its creation. You can read more in this interview

One of the first things I do when I start in a new organisation is to share my leadership principles. These were first written down in about 2003. I was asked as part of a leadership programme for potential permanent secretaries to write down a “Leadership Manifesto”. I thought that sounded terrible. Giorgina Soane from the Cabinet Office told me to just “write down what you believe in”. That was much easier.

So here it is, my “leadership manifesto” – the thing I always share first. It has changed little in the last decade – during which time I have been a Director at the Department of Health, a Director in the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, a charity trustee, an Executive of a Public/Private Partnership, a Commissioning Chief Executive and a Provider Chief Executive in the NHS.

Leadership Principles: Rob Webster

My leadership is based on the following principles:

  1. We make a difference. Be confident and passionate about that. Amplify success and address any  challenges in the difference we make to real people’s lives.
  2. I will visibly lead by example.  My leadership and what I value will be clearly communicated and  understood.
  3. How  we work is as  important as what we do. We  need to be very clear about both.
  4. People genuinely are the organisation’s biggest asset.
    • Give people head room to  succeed and they will exceed your expectations. Celebrate their  successes. Say thank you often and mean it.
    • Address poor performance  constructively for the benefit of all.
    • Always show genuine concern.
    • Invest time and effort in  development – this is work
    • Incentives and rewards are linked to delivery and behaviour.
  5. Consensus is not always the best way forward. We must innovate, take risks and learn from failures.
  6. Diversity should be embraced –  it drives change and innovation
  7. The governance, systems and processes in the organisation are both an enabler and our corporate glue.
  8. Our relationships must be big enough if we are to succeed.

In my organisation there is a deal that people will:

  • Work within an agreed set of values.
  • Be able to articulate a clear and simple vision for the organisation based on outcomes for customers;
  • Be part of an effective  team;
  • Have a clear line of sight between what they do and that vision;
  • Have a forward job plan with personal objectives that reflect the roles of their teams and their contribution to the vision.
  • Receive regular feedback on their performance.
  • Have a PDP and be supported in their personal development.
  • Have two jobs – to do their job and improve their job.
  • Be supported to innovate and encouraged to take risks.
  • Share their skills and experience to the full with others.
  • Be able to work flexibly to benefit themselves and the organisation.
  • Work within a governance structure which is  transparent and provides a clear set of authority and accountability.
  • Learn from mistakes and celebrate success through formal and informal reward structures.
  • Lead from every seat

I will take responsibility for ensuring this happens.  I will challenge myself through 360 feedback, informal discussions and performance management by my line manager. I will face my shortcomings with courage and continually improve.

3 thoughts on “My Leadership Principles

  1. Rob

    Thank you for sharing your manifesto. I’ve followed your leadership of the NHS Confederation with admiration. I remember your Confed Conderence speech that was, pretty much, the only keynote to mention staff and patients – at least it was the only presentation given by a succession national leaders (all no-longer-young white men) whose central message was focused clearly on patient care and staff engagement. If you carry this clarity of values into your new role I’m sure your organisation, and the patients it serves, will thrive.

    Good luck, Chris
    Head of Professional Development, NHS Leadership Academy

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