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The Key to Effective Collaborative Leadership: The Self-Assessment

This paragraph was published in February 2019. Little did we know Covid was a year away from challenging healthcare further than we have known in modern times.

Network leadership collaboration remains a key focus more than ever. Good, collaborative leadership led networks through the new pressures experienced over the last 2 years.

In this blog, we will cover a brief overview of the core skills and attributes required by network leaders. I also introduce a self-assessment tool with simple and practical tips to support day-to-day work.


Network Leadership in Practice

Primary Care Homes, Primary Care Networks, GP Federations, Training Hubs and multi-professional projects, teams and services are examples of multiple organisations coming together and sharing resources, risks, governance, IT, finances, payment structures and premises to deliver new care models.

When I say multiple organisations, an example of this is when I supported a GP federation comprised of 40 general practices to deliver a frailty contract with network (group) targets, rather than just being based on the individual performance of each practice.

Practices have to come together in peer review meetings to look at the quality of care plans, discuss the variation between practices, attend training, seek patient feedback and liaise with other services that can support their patients.

The main role of the federation is to:

  • Facilitate and build consensus

  • Collaboratively problem-solve

  • Negotiate

  • Strategically plan

  • Create new systems and reporting structures

  • Act as the broker

  • Manage conflict and push back

  • Be proactive

  • Consistently communicate

  • Know the detail at all times

As network leaders, our role is also to re-enforce the common purpose, build trust and have contingencies up our sleeve.

We are required to share our power and garner multiple perspectives from what is being said and often from the silences we encounter.

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Learning Through Self-assessment

Now… I know there are LOTS of tools and frameworks out there to support you to improve you leadership skills and behaviours. As a Core Strengths faciliator, this is one of the most effective tools that I use in the PCNs that I support...however The Turning Point Collaborative Leadership Self Assessment Questionnaire, is a great, free tool that can help you to get started.

This questionnaire has been created to support leaders to evaluate key behaviours specific to network leadership. It is endorsed by the NHS England Sustainable Improvement Team through their Developing Effective Networks for Change and Improvement online course.

This course was developed for leaders looking to enhance their facilitation skills, bridge boundaries between organisations and mobilise people to work together.

The self-assessment questionnaire is intended to trigger personal reflection around 6 core areas which look at:

  • How you assess the environment and approach situations

  • How you create clarity on the vision and mobilise people to take action

  • Building trust

  • Sharing power and influence

  • Developing people

  • Self-reflection

This tool can be applied in a group or individually to identify strengths and areas for development.

The assessment covers a lot so once completed, I recommend that you:

  1. Choose to focus on one area for the next 6-12 weeks

  2. Buy a journal and write down your area of focus and then at the start of each day, set your intention around your chosen area of focus, for example: Area of focus: Sharing Power and Influence Intention: In today’s team meeting, I will ensure everyone’s voice is heard. I will facilitate and NOT do all of the talking Or, in today’s 1-2-1 with Sally, I will express my confidence in her to lead a new initiative.

  3. At the end of each working day, take 10 minutes to reflect on how you did and please do not solely focus on the things that didn’t go so well. The smallest win is still a win!

  4. Where you can, share and discuss with a friend, mentor, line manager, coaching group, peer group in person or online on how you are getting on. Remember, share and learn from the positives as well as any challenges you are experiencing.

This approach will help you build small positive habits that you can work on every day in a manageable way. Then, in 6 -12 weeks, you can move on to your next area of focus.

This approach is also about life-long learning as we will never score a perfect 10 in all areas of our professional (or personal) life, but we can commit to making small steps each day.



To conclude, while the ability to lead collaboratively and across boundaries isn’t new, its growing importance is undeniable in today’s climate.

Network leaders need to juggle assessment of their environment and approach to situations, clarity on the vision, action plans, building trust, sharing power and influence, the development of people and continuous self assessment. The Collaborative Leadership Self Assessment Questionnaire is an excellent tool to support you with this along with employing the 4 step method of:

  1. Choosing an area to focus on

  2. Starting the day with a positive intention

  3. Reflecting on your performance at the end of each day

  4. Sharing and discussing your experiences

  • Are you new to your PCN Manager role and need some direction?

  • Is there low engagement across your project, general practice or Primary Care Network?

  • Are you feeling overwhelmed?

  • Are you looking for training and mentorship to support the management of your network?

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