Spotlight on Leadership Challenges: Insights from our Set Members

As the festive season draws to a close, we look forward to welcoming Set members to their learning sets, which kick-off for the 2024 year in the coming week. 2024 looks to be (another) challenging year for members. The primary purpose of a learning set is to enable individual members to work through a specific issue that is challenging them in their role. Utilising a facilitated peer to peer action learning approach individuals explore, reflect, challenge themselves and are challenged by others as they develop a forward plan. 

Reflecting on the issues executives brought to their sets provides some useful insights to the year ahead.

Many, but not all, of the challenges executives are experiencing are consequential to the COVID pandemic. As seasoned executives, members are well equipped to craft technical solutions to challenges, so they are often looking for more nuanced approaches to leading within systems and organisations where ambiguity, complexity and uncertainty seem to be more prevalent than ever. This is taking place within dynamic political contexts that place demands on leaders to respond rapidly to ever changing crises.

Unsurprisingly leadership itself was the most talked about topic at our learning sets. As members of an executive leadership team and leading their own teams, members were exploring specific challenges relating to team. I sometimes think leadership is a C word – courage, compassion, commitment, clarity, coherence, consistency, and collaboration all featured in conversations as members recognised the importance of “team” in tackling specific challenges.

Workforce also ranks highly in set topics. With all organisations, to a greater or lesser degree, experiencing workforce shortages, concerns around workforce productivity, workforce satisfaction and workforce engagement and well-being featured strongly in conversations. 

Financial sustainability also ranked highly. Many health systems are experiencing real reductions in revenue as Governments reset budgets to be more consistent with pre-COVID levels. At the same time costs related to both workforce and supplies have increased significantly in the post-COVID era. Balancing cost reductions, efficiency, productivity, and quality – and ensuring a sustainable organisation is playing heavily on member’s minds. Often this challenge played out in conversations about transformational change and strategic leadership as you would expect.

The final challenge worth a longer mention is in the technology space. Increasingly, members are contemplating the impact of AI on healthcare and how it should be approached not only at an organisational level but at a system and, indeed, global level. Organisationally conversations reflect on how best to establish governance and operational frameworks as clinicians and other staff look to utilise AI to help overcome some of the challenges discussed above.

So there we have it – our most talked-about challenges. Unsurprisingly, executives are also focusing on the next steps in their careers. We love seeing our members grow and develop in their careers, supported by the set approach to leadership learning and development. 

Bring it on 2024!

Kath Cook

Executive Learning Set Facilitator & Coach