5 Leadership Lessons – Jane Crombleholme

5 Leadership Lessons – Jane Crombleholme


Last week was the fourth and final leadership master class on our cross-sector ILM Level 7 Certificate in Leadership and Management course, hosted in partnership with the Chartered Insurance Institute in London.

As always, we invited a special guest speaker to close the programme with a TED-style talk for our delegates — along with our growing network of ILM Level 7 alumni — on what leadership means to them.

Leadership Lessons from Jane Crombleholme


Our latest leadership speaker was Jane Crombleholme. In addition to her role as Head of Executive Education at the Manchester Business School, Jane is also Board Chair of NHS Stockport Clinical Commissioning Group. One of the over 900 organisations that make up the NHS, Stockport CCG handles a transformation budget of £500 million.

Jane spoke to our ILM Level 7 course delegates and alumni about the challenges of leading in such a complex organisation, and how to keep focused amid all the “background noise”.

These are her five Leadership Lessons learned along the way.


1. Control is a Myth


The key to great leadership and management is not control. It’s the ability to “create the right environment for good people to do great things”.

In Boards and senior teams, you’re looking for a culture where no-one feels like they have to pretend. In the first instance, they need permission to say ‘I don’t know what to do’ when faced with a problem.

In organisations with so many moving parts, this will open up “proper conversations”, enabling your team to think and work things through more effectively.


2. Don’t Strive for Perfection


Like control, perfection is a myth. If today went badly, “try to be better tomorrow”. Aim to find satisfaction (not perfection) in the work you do and the choices you make. This is especially true for organisations faced with a range of different realities at any one time.

Satisfaction doesn’t mean complacency, however. To be innovative is to take risks. Being a good leader means being courageous, and taking those generational decisions that need to be taken.


3. Leadership is a Collective Endeavour


“I don’t want to lead alone”, and it’s almost impossible to do it well, anyway.

High-performing senior leaders embrace the different skill-sets around them. They see the value in collaboration and distributive leadership. Contradiction is not a bad thing, either.

Working together is also essential to translating your strategy from paper to day-to-day, on-the-ground working practice. “It’s not enough to write it down.”


4. Values are Key


Jane spoke movingly about how the opening line of the NHS Constitution — “The NHS belongs to the people” — still pulls at the heart-strings: “It’s been a privilege. I love the NHS. It still blows my mind.”

If you’re always moving when it comes to your values, there’ll be no consistency to your leadership narrative. Make your values explicit. Manifest them in your everyday behaviours.


5. Be Kind


“It’s a serious business but you don’t have to be boring.” Kindness, trust and openness are all crucial factors in your ability to bring people with you. Be visible. Listen to your staff. And make time for the more reflective members of your team.

Jane cited the importance of supportive networks in her own leadership journey, and how they acted as “both a trampoline and a foundation”. So manage your working relationships: with your staff, with the other people you lead with, and — importantly — with yourself.


EW Group are currently working with NHS Stockport CCG on a three-year Board development programme. Jane and her colleagues wanted “nothing touchy-feely”, no blue-sky thinking, and no ordinary curriculum. Instead, our programme mixes observations of Board meetings and facilitated sessions with our Chief Executive Jane Farrell. We keep the focus on doing real work in real-time, probing and reflecting on the real issues the Board faces in a constantly changing healthcare context.


Interested in joining our next ILM Level 7 course cohort in January 2017? Click here to find out more.

Listen to our Reworked episode with Jane on leadership and perfectionism Listen Here