Developing managers as leaders

Health managers had the most important and most difficult job in Ireland, Dr. Siobhan O’Halloran, Chief Nursing Officer, Department of Health told the Conference.

Dr. Siobhan O'Halloran
Dr. Siobhan O’Halloran

“Every profession has a commitment to develop for the next generation. It behoves us all to leave behind a profession which is up to the mark for those coming after us. We have two choices, either predict the future or invent the future.

“The desired future of the health system doesn’t just happen. Leaders create it. Leaders’ most important function is to cultivate the human capital of their organisation. Clinicians are knowledge workers in an information age and knowledge workers respond to inspiration and supervision not command and control.”

Speaking on “Developing managers as leaders” Dr. O’Halloran quoted Large et al, Bloom et al – ‘Leadership and management practices are strongly related to the quality of patient care, significantly lower mortality rates, improved patient safety and better productivity outcomes. Higher levels of autonomy of leaders also results in higher performing organisations. Devolving autonomy to frontline staff improves patient care and health outcomes.”

Dr. O’Halloran said authentic leadership involved leading with the head and the heart, having a passion for work and compassion for people.

Leaders had to balance innovation with risk, think great thoughts, think long term but deliver results, decentralise but control, maintain staff morale and teamwork while making tough service and workforce decisions, continue to tackle inequalities and ensure people receive safe, effective care.

Authentic leadership involved leading with the head and the heart, having a passion for work and compassion for people.

“Strategic resilience is not about responding to a one time crisis, it’s not about rebounding from a setback. It’s about continuously anticipating and adjusting to deep, secular trends. It’s about having the capacity to change before the case for change becomes desperately obvious.

“Public managers do not have the luxury of separating out expectations for flexible leadership from demands for strict accountability in the form of structures or guarantees that check and limit management action – (Feldman and Khadamian 2011)