Readiness to lead for Safety and Quality

A central premise of the Clinical Excellence Commission Clinical Leadership Program (CLP) is that leadership occurs at all levels in health care and is not dependent on the position to which a person is appointed. 'Clinical Leadership' refers to:

  • the process of leading a set of activities that improve the delivery of safe clinical care, and
  • the set of attributes required to lead a team, unit, facility, stream or cluster.

Since 2007, the CEC Quality Improvement Academy, has enabled the deployment of over 3,500 leaders across NSW Health as graduates of the Foundational or Executive Clinical Leadership Programs.

The following leadership resources and videos are designed to support leaders in times of COVID-19.

Leadership Conversations - Videos

Wendy Jamieson

Leadership in a rural setting during COVID-19 with Diana Williamson

Length: 6:10 minutes

Platform: YouTube

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Dr Leanne Qian JMO SESLHD

Leadership in a hospital setting during COVID-19 with Dr Leanne Qian

Length: 8:41 minutes

Platform: YouTube

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Sam Bendall Leadership conversations

Leadership conversation with Sam Immens

Length: 10:12 minutes

Platform: YouTube

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Tony Lock talking leadership

Leadership in a hospital setting during COVID-19 with Tony Lock

Length: 25:43 minutes

Platform: YouTube

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Short Video Series - High Performance Leadership in a Crisis

This short video series offers leaders in healthcare, an online mini leadership program that aims to enhance the quality of leadership and reduce human error during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

The Presenter

Kyle Tyrrell

Kyle Tyrrell is a former Lieutenant Colonel who served 24 years in combat units within the Australian Army. Kyle holds an MBA, Graduate Diploma in Leadership, Graduate Diploma in Strategy and is a Certified Executive Coach. He is a Graduate of the Royal Military College (Duntroon) and the Australian Command and Staff College where he was awarded the Commandants Prize for outstanding achievement. In the 2007 Queens Birthday Honours, Kyle was awarded the Commendation for Distinguished Service for courage and leadership in action during the Iraq War. He has also received a Land Commanders Commendation (2002) and Divisional Commanders Commendation (1998) for outstanding leadership.



5:45 minutes

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26:36 minutes

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22:50 minutes

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14:24 minutes

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17:15 minutes

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Mission Focus

15:39 minutes

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Advice by Brent Wallace, March 2020

  1. Build trusted relationships.
  2. Understand your role and responsibilities.
  3. Be decisive and adaptable.
  4. Focus on accurate and timely communication.
  5. Be confident and optimistic.
  6. Take care of yourself and your team.

Advice by Marlene Chism, April 2020

Take control of your mind

  1. Get present
  2. Notice your thoughts and ask yourself, “is this a fact or a fear?”
  3. Practice mindfulness or meditation to calm yourself down.

Take control of your narrative

  1. Refuse to engage in gossip, blame and games of “what if” and “They should have."
  2. Ask the question "What are our choices now?"
  3. Focus conversations on providing value and serving others.

Take control of your focus

  1. Make a daily effort to notice and talk about the greater good.
  2. Use a timer when working on projects.
  3. Play a game.

Advice by Kelly Greenwood, March 2020

  1. Be Vulnerable About Your Own Mental Health
  2. Be Reassuring And Values-Based
  3. Be Flexible
  4. Be Available And Compassionate
  5. Be Grateful And Of Service

Advice by Mark Larson

Cultivate Leaders who Rise to the Occasion in Times of Crisis

  1. Make sure they feel noticed
  2. Give them a starter project
  3. Help them make connections
  4. Give clear direction
  5. Actively engage them about what they are learning
  6. Make a plan for the future

Caring Conversations Digital Learning Resource

Enhancing the quality of relationships through meaningful human interaction.

The framework for caring conversations has been developed from detailed observation of exquisite human interactions in health care practice between staff and between staff, patients and families.

Staff used the elements of this framework to help them to find out:

  • Who people were and what mattered to them
  • How people felt.
  • And then used this knowledge to engage further to work with the person/people to shape the way things were done.

This inquiry tool is used as a starting point for conversation. Rather than anonymous feedback, the invitation with this tool is that it forms the basis for further discovery work, through the Caring Conversation framework, of what helped it to work well, and what might we create together in moving forward.

These questions can be used to engage in conversations with a range of people in your workplace – residents, relatives, GP's, students, and staff. Some managers on the My Home Life programme have used this resource to guide supervision meetings with staff.

Advice by David A. Garvin and Joshua D. Margolis, Feb 2015

Seeking and giving advice are central to effective leadership and decision making. Yet managers seldom view them as practical skills they can learn and improve. Understanding different types of advice.Best practices for seeking and giving advice.

Advice by Tait Shanafelt, MD; Jonathan Ripp, MD, MPH; Mickey Trockel, MD, PhD, April 2020

This Viewpoint summarizes key considerations for supporting the health care workforce so health care professionals are equipped to provide care for their patients and communities. Few of these considerations and suggestions have substantial evidence to support them; they are based on experience, direct requests from health care professionals, and common sense.

Advice by British Psychological Society COVID-19 Staff Wellbeing Group

A guide for healthcare leaders and managers regarding how to meet the wellbeing needs of clinical and non-clinical staff as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. Possible staff reactions in the preparation, active and recovery phases of the pandemic are discussed together with practical strategies to support staff in each phase.

Advice by Michaela J. Kerrissey, & Sara J. Singer

The coronavirus pandemic poses extraordinary challenges to frontline health care teams. Team leaders must manage amid high stress, limited resources, and great uncertainty. This article draws critical insights from management research on team effectiveness under urgent and uncertain conditions, and highlights practical strategies for structuring, launching, facilitating, and sustaining teamwork to inform frontline leaders in the midst of the current pandemic.

Advice by Renee Bertuch, 25th May 2020

Creative transformation has never been as important as it is now. The scale and impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and while business, the government and society grapple with the current reality, we are also anticipating the impact and opportunities of a post-COVID world. A selection of experts were invited to provide their insights on the current situation and consider the opportunities that might emerge. They offer some key insights and actionable opportunities in a concise, digestible form that might trigger some new thinking.

Leadership – Self Care

Advice by Amy Jen Su, June 2017

1. Cut yourself a break
2. Value time, money, and resources
3. Take a victory lap
4. Surround yourself with good people
5. Update your workspace
6. Recharge and reboot


1. Keep your energy levels topped up
2. Self-reflect on things that didn't go so well
3. Get some exercise to level yourself off
4. Do mindfulness for a solid foundation

Advice by Damien Ridge. Professor of Health Studies. University of Westminster

Empathy in healthcare workers is crucial to their ability to provide high quality and safe care. There is also evidence empathy is both protective against burn out and negatively impacted by it. This article explores the causes and signs of burnout in healthcare workers and provides evidence-based tips to prevent and manage it.

The COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to exacerbate health care professional burnout. This may continue to be the case even after the pandemic has been resolved. Psychological PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) are the individual and system level actions taken by team members and team leaders that may provide protection and support for staff mental health both before and after a shift. The article synthesises evidence into quick tips for staff and team leaders.

Leadership - General

Advice - The personal leadership challenge: Apply the principles of adaptive leadership

A website with multiple resource to develop and apply adaptive leadership skills.

Adaptive leadership skills include:

  • Being self-aware
  • Keeping an open mind
  • Active Listening
  • Questioning skills
  • Being courageous

The Personal Leadership Challenge, challenges us to use a systems thinking approach to see and do things differently. Many factors can limit our perception about what is possible and our motivation to change. These factors can be reduced through the following adaptive leadership behaviours:

Resisting the temptation to exaggerate demands and constraint's

  • Being aware of our confirmation bias
  • Not seeing vulnerability as a weakness
  • Applying the principles of adaptive leadership
  • The principles of adaptive leadership are discussed in detail in the resource

McKinsey Webinars

The task of leading during a sustained crisis — whether you are the CEO of a major corporation or a manager heading up an impromptu company initiative — is treacherous. Crisis leadership has two distinct phases. First is that emergency phase, when your task is to stabilise the situation and buy time. Second is the adaptive phase, when you tackle the underlying needs of the crisis and build the capacity to thrive in a new reality.


Dr Ron Heifetz will drawn from his research in crisis management which focuses on how to build adaptive capacity in societies, businesses and non-profits. Dr Heifetz is co-founder of the Cambridge Leadership Academy and the founding director of the Centre for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School. Dr Heifetz's first book 'Leadership without Easy Answers; is a classic in the field. It is read widely as a foundational text, and it is one of the 10 most assigned course books at Harvard and Duke Universities. Dr Heifetz also co-authored 'The Practice of Adaptive Leadership' with Marty Linsky and Alexander Grashow.

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Transparency is 'job one' for leaders in a crisis. Be clear what you know, what you don’t know, and what you're doing to learn more. Organisations that get serious about building the capacity to thrive must first encourage people to speak up honestly about the current problems they see. Alas, transparency simply will not happen without psychological safety: a climate in which people can raise questions, concerns, and ideas without fear of personal repercussion. This is particularly true in the supercharged atmosphere of a crisis. Without psychological safety, the higher the stakes of the situation; the greater the risk a person feels they are assuming in speaking up.


Amy Edmondson is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School. Amy has been recognised by the biannual Thinkers50 global ranking of management thinkers since 2011, and most recently was ranked #3 in 2019; she also received that organisation's Breakthrough Idea Award in 2019, and Talent Award in 2017. She studies teaming, psychological safety, and organisational learning. Her most recent book, The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation and Growth, offers a practical guide for organisations serious about success in the modern economy.

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For more information on Nursing and Midwifery Leadership and Culture visit the NAMO website. For more information on leading in uncertain times visit the HETI website.

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