I see courage every day in those working in the NHS; the professional courage to face up to colleagues and tackle inappropriate behaviour, to speak out freely.
The personal courage needed to face again the challenges of such a stressed and pressured environment and do so in the hope of making a difference. The courage to step in to new roles, new organisations or face a new and different future. All of this is present in our NHS and in some of those around us.
Mark Newbold brought that to life for me this week in an incredibly courageous move to put into action all he talks about in terms of the courage needed as a leader in standing up for what they believe in. I don’t know enough about the context or situation to have a view on the rights and wrongs of the role Monitor have played – my view is as uninformed as most others. But I do know a little of Mark. And often over the past few years when I have tried to identify a leader who embodies what we believe in terms of transparency, patient focus and integrity he is usually one of the very first names to come to mind.
We talk on our leadership programmes of knowledge, skills and abilities needed that can be learned, behaviours that can be developed but values that need to be inherent, real and embodied. I know Mark has the values utterly congruent with what we want for our future NHS. The NHS really does hold up a mirror up to who we can be, who we want to be and who we are encouraged to be. I see too often people who by blind compliance, self-serving promotion, sycophantic loyalty to those in positions of power – seem to thrive and grow – or at least are left alone where they are perceived to do no harm to the right people.
And still too often I see those people who take a stand, speak out, and take calculated, measured and appropriate risks in order to serve others better, punished for trying or punished for the wrong thing. Now more than ever we need some bold and courageous leadership – some integrity and compassion, some vision and a sense of public service – let’s not keep chopping the heads off the tall poppies that show a way for others to learn and grow.
Who will be our role models if we continue to do so?