Creating our systems leadership community

What does it mean to be a system leader in south east London? That’s the big question we want to answer. Over the last year we have spoken to people working in different care settings across our system, including those delivering, receiving and managing services.

Jonty HeaversedgeJoint Chief Medical Officer of the South East London Integrated Care System
16 Jun 2022
SLA - Connect

We have sought inspiration from systems beyond south east London, both nationally and internationally.

This exploration, carried out with the support of Kaleidoscope Health and Care, has informed the development of a leadership community for our integrated care system.

This community will help us all build the confidence and competence we need to step outside our organisational and professional context and work across traditional administrative boundaries. It will strengthen collaboration and create a more rewarding experience for those working in health and care.

Most importantly, it will help us provide a more seamless experience for the people we serve.

Multiple identities

What it means to be a system leader is not an easy question to answer in a complex system. We are made up of a broad range of organisations, sectors and disciplines, across six local authorities, five provider trusts, and 35 primary care networks. Together, we serve a diverse population of around two million people.

Even when I reflect on my own identity as a leader, each role I have brings with it a particular perspective, which can limit my ability to see the bigger picture and step into the shoes of another colleague or resident.

I am a GP, a clinical chair (soon to be Joint Chief Medical Officer of the ICS), the clinical director for an organisation responsible for encouraging the uptake of innovation in healthcare. And at the weekend I work on a popular cookie stall in Crystal Palace Market supporting my partner!

While each role requires different approaches, mindsets and experiences, they are brought together with one common goal.

While each role requires different approaches, mindsets and experiences, they are brought together with one common goal – to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for our population. (OK… so I recognise the cookies might be a stretch – but they definitely bring a smile to people’s faces!)

I’m certainly not the only one in our system wearing multiple hats and straddling different worlds. Our system is made up of incredible people, communities and organisations who are working to make a difference in south east London and improve lives.

A new way to lead

However, for some time, we have worked in a context where leadership is governed by organisational boundaries, policies encourage competition, and our performance is measured at the level of individual organisations rather than the whole system. In addition, we have focused more on trying to count how much care we deliver, rather than how well we deliver it.

Our approach to tackling the complex issues facing south east London has been confined to the changes we can make within our professional, organisational, and geographical silos – often in isolation from other parts of the system.

The creation of our ICS represents an opportunity to work in new and more collaborative ways to help address our biggest challenges.

And we now need to lead in a new way – as ‘system leaders’, across organisational and geographical boundaries, beyond individual professional disciplines, and with a broad range of stakeholders.

Building a community

We’re building a community to connect people across our sectors, organisations and places to explore what it looks like to be a south east London system leader. We want to learn from each other and build relationships based on trust and empathy as the foundation for our integrated care system.

Our vision is a thriving and growing community of system leaders that is inclusive, inspiring and focused on improvement. We want to support an environment where anyone willing to lead has the capabilities, opportunity and motivation to make system leadership a truly impactful, rewarding and joyful experience for them and our system.

Over the last year, we have engaged with more than 150 colleagues across south east London and together we are co-developing an emerging identity for our community and the knowledge, skills and behaviours we want to foster in our leaders.

Characteristics of south east London system leaders

We have co-developed an emerging set of characteristics of what it means to be an effective south east London leader.

These characteristics are described in the words of our community members and are very much unique to south east London. Perhaps unsurprisingly though, they align closely with academic research and national guidance.

Over the next six months, our community will explore each characteristic in-depth, spotlighting inspiration from within our system and further afield. Together we’ll challenge one another to think differently, reflect on what we can learn and adopt in our patch and explore and refine our emerging five characteristics of south east London system leadership.

Our community is open to leaders and change-makers at all career levels across all the different sectors and disciplines in south east London – whether you are a student or a chief executive, work in Bexley or Lambeth, in a hospital or community setting, statutory or voluntary sector, health or social care.

If you are working and leading across our system, we warmly invite you to be a part of our community.

Jonty Heaversedge is a GP and soon to be Joint Chief Medical Officer of the South East London Integrated Care System.

If you would like to become involved in the community, email