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My New Year’s Resolution – 2013 Will Be Tough, Stick to Your Values

Stick to your values

Hello and welcome to 2013. Happy New Year!

This is my first blog post of 2013 for “Leaders for Leeds”. 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 here: http://www.valuesbasedleadership.co.uk/Voice/dec2012/

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.

And my New Year’s Resolution? This will be a tough year. I will stick to my values – because in tough times, when often there is no right logical decision, it works.

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.

A final thought for you – do your staff and your team know what you value as a leader?

9 Responses

  1. Great post, Rob, and may I say as an observer that your values do permeate your communications and decisions!

    But I do have a potential amendment to offer:

    “I recognise that the people I serve are assets and can contribute their skills, abilities and ideas to improve the services I offer, and to impact on the wider system in which we work.”

    What do you think? Is it something to consider adding to the list?

    1. Rob

      Thanks Claire. Both system leadership and using people’s assets are two things implicit in the above. I will have a think about how they become more explicit,


  2. Like the stuff in both these posts, thanks Mike and Rob. And a happy new year! That’s a good challenge – asking whether those you’re working with know what you value. One to test in 2013, thanks.
    Although I’ve done the MBA stuff, and use theory sometimes, I’m as much driven day to day by some of the things my granny used to say to me well before I was old enough to work (and yes I can still remember them)!! Sayings like:
    – treat others as you want to be treated
    – what’s meant for you will not go past you
    – two wrongs don’t make a right
    – value differences, what would the world be like if everyone was the same as you
    – think about how other people feel
    – you only learn by your own mistakes
    ….and there are others!
    Does anyone else remember this kind of thing and use them? I find myself saying these to my kids too, which is a sure sign of getting old!
    Mariana (a simple soul!)

    1. Yvonne Lumley

      Mariana, – I love these and one of my favourites is actually from Bambi when Thumper is told by his Mum that if he can’t say anything nice, he shouldn’t say anything at all! And if we do need to give negative/developmental feedback, there are ways of doing it so ensure self-esteem remains in tact.

  3. Yvonne Lumley

    Rob – I totally agree with your point that spending time on development ‘is work’. All too often failing organisations see any form of development as something to fit in around the task.

    1. Rob

      Thanks Yvonne. I am always struck by people who are on development workshops who complain they have “work to do”! The development piece may be the most important bit of work they do that day, month, year.

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