Drive, connection and pragmatism in systems leadership: developing a measure of civic capacity

Arrival: 12pm Seminar: 12.15pm - 1.15pm.

Tea, coffee and sandwiches provided (please register if you want these, and to guarantee a seat!)


Alan Boyd, Research Associate in Healthcare & Public Sector Management, MBS

Adrian Nelson, Research Fellow Public Sector, MBS

Karen Shawhan, Associate Lecturer, MBS


The importance of cross-sectoral working has long been recognised in areas such as community care and public health where problems span organizational boundaries. Integrated care is increasingly important as more patients have multiple and long-term conditions and more services are provided by private and voluntary organisations. Recent strategic planning guidance requires leaders to plan service delivery in partnership, across their health economy. “Systems” leadership is needed to deliver transformational change in the face of complex, fluid, “wicked” issues, where no single organisation can catalyse and sustain the change required. A valid and reliable measure of systems leadership would be helpful in developing systems leadership E.g. providing feedback on systems leadership performance to aid development; evaluating programmes to develop systems leadership.

This seminar describes skills and attributes that a systems leader may find useful, and outlines how an instrument to measure a key component of systems leadership – civic capacity – might be developed.

It will aim to answer the following questions:

  • Systems leadership, transformational leadership and civic capacity – what are they, and how are they related to each other?

  • How might civic capacity be measured?

  • How might a measure of civic capacity be developed and tested?

The seminar will be of interest to anyone who is involved in cross-sectoral or multi-agency working, or in supporting the development of individuals involved in such working.

About the speakers

Alan Boyd, Adrian Nelson and Karen Shawhan are investigating civic capacity as part of an evaluation of a national programme to develop systems leadership.

Alan Boyd has research interests in the regulation, governance and improvement of public services, focusing particularly on healthcare, including health research and health systems strengthening in low and middle income countries. He has particular expertise in evaluation methods.

Adrian Nelson has maintained a career-long interest in leadership behaviour in organisations which spans 27 years. As an organisational psychologist, he works in the field of psychometrics and measure development in a wide range of contexts. More recently he has worked in the areas of social movements in healthcare and the evaluation of public health programmes.

Karen Shawhan has a clinical and managerial background in the NHS, and has designed and delivered leadership development programmes in higher education, healthcare and the third sector; she is currently involved in the delivery of NHS leadership development programmes. Karen has worked extensively with newly created third sector organisations, supporting the transition to new skills sets and ways of working.


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