Healthcare Leadership Models Made Simple

Developing Leadership: The LEADS Framework

Leadership is a critical skill that can determine the success of an organization or team. However, developing leadership is not always easy. A framework I found particularly useful in my own development as a leader is the LEADS Framework.

The LEADS Framework was developed in Australia in 2014 as a healthcare leadership model. It consists of five domains:

  • Leading self
  • Engaging others
  • Achieving outcomes
  • Driving innovation; and
  • Shaping systems.

The framework is intended to be a capability model that can be learned through coaching, mentoring, training, or even a 360-degree assessment.

Leading Self

The first domain, leading self, is the foundation of leadership. It requires leaders to have self-awareness, be able to manage their emotions, and make ethical decisions. In order to lead others effectively, leaders must first be able to lead themselves. This domain is critical to building trust with others and setting an example for them to follow.

Engaging Others

Engaging others is the second domain of the LEADS Framework. It involves building relationships with others, fostering teamwork, and communicating effectively. Engaging others requires leaders to be empathetic, supportive, and able to resolve conflicts. This domain is crucial to building a culture of trust, respect, and collaboration within the team

Achieving Outcomes

The third domain, achieving outcomes, is about setting goals, developing plans, and executing them effectively. Leaders need to be able to analyze data, monitor progress, and adjust course as needed to achieve the desired outcomes. This domain requires leaders to be strategic, decisive, and focused on results.

Driving Innovation

The fourth domain, driving innovation, involves creating a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. Leaders must be able to identify opportunities for innovation, encourage creative thinking, and take calculated risks. This domain requires leaders to be adaptable, open-minded, and willing to experiment.

Shaping Systems

Shaping systems is the fifth domain of the LEADS Framework. It involves understanding the larger system in which the team or organization operates and making changes to improve it. Leaders need to be able to identify systemic issues, collaborate with other stakeholders, and advocate for change. This domain requires leaders to be visionary, persuasive, and able to think beyond the immediate needs of the team or organization.

Depending on the type of program I am running, I often simplify the process of developing leadership skills, and break it down into three main areas:

  • Operational performance
  • Interpersonal processes; and
  • Inner leadership processes.

As you read through the three areas of focus, start to think of which one do you think you need developing in.

Exploring Leadership Areas: Operational Performance Knowledge, Interpersonal Processes, and Inner Leadership Processes

Operational Performance Knowledge

Operational performance knowledge is where all of your clinical knowledge and experience come into play. As a leader, you need to know how to work out processes, allocate resources, and get things done efficiently. You can learn these skills through mentoring, coaching, or training programs. It’s important to know who to turn to when you need help and to have a clear understanding of where to go for resources and support.

Interpersonal Processes

The second area is interpersonal processes. As a leader, you must have high-level thinking skills and be able to engage in strategic thinking and innovation. This involves identifying areas where change is needed and determining how to implement those changes effectively. Pay attention to research and new developments in the field to stay up to date on best practices. Effective communication is key in this area, as you must be able to articulate your vision and goals clearly to others and work collaboratively to achieve them. You also need to know how to give feedback and develop your team. This is especially important with a junior workforce.

Inner Leadership Processes

The third and final area is inner leadership processes. This involves understanding your own behavior and communication style, as well as managing your emotions and self-regulation. You can use leadership inventories to help identify your strengths and weaknesses and develop strategies to improve your leadership skills. Good leaders also know how to manage their own emotions so they can perform at their best, even in high-pressure situations.

The Importance of Valuing and Respecting Your Team

For over 20 years, the Gallup poll has conducted extensive research into what makes a leader and organization great. The poll has highlighted activities that pertain to managers and leaders, such as valuing and respecting their team, appreciating them, and listening to them. These activities may seem obvious, but they are often overlooked or disregarded in many organizations.

As a nurse leader, it’s important to acknowledge that your team members are individuals with unique skills, experiences, and perspectives. They want to know that you care about them and that their contributions are valued. When you show your team members that you value and respect them, you create a positive work environment where they feel motivated to perform their best. And they feel seen.

Valuing and respecting your team members involves more than just saying the right words. Your behavior as a leader must align with your words. You must actively listen to your team members, show empathy, and create opportunities for them to develop and grow. It’s crucial to lead by example, modeling the behavior you expect from your team members.

Knowing Your Triggers

One challenge that leaders may face is a mismatch between their triggers and behaviors. Your triggers are the events or situations that cause you to react emotionally, and your behavior is how you respond to those triggers. As a leader, it’s important to understand your triggers and how they affect your behavior. By recognizing your triggers, you can work to manage your emotions and respond in a way that aligns with your values and goals. Then in turn will also help you with your relationships at work.

In recent years, there has been a shift towards a more distributed leadership model, which encourages individuals to develop their own inner leadership. This model values influence and engagement over authority and hierarchy. In healthcare, where hierarchies are deeply ingrained, this shift towards distributed leadership can be particularly challenging.  A simple way to do this is ask their opinion.

This has been a simple explanation of leadership domains. Developing leadership skills can be a complex process, but frameworks such as the LEADS Framework provide a useful structure for learning and development. In my book Transformational Nurse identities, I unpack situational leadership and transformational leaders.

Despite what style you use and skills you have, emotional intelligence is key for a nurse leader. In the next blog/video I will unpack this and talk about the traps that very smart clinical leaders fall into: the knowledge trap.

Now you can ask yourself. How do you deal with power? Do you have a distributed leadership style?

Have you ever had an objective view of your leadership capabilities? The HILCA 360 is a great tool to measure the LEADS framework and gives you a foundation to transform your leadership. Let me know if you want to know how. Send your thoughts through my email

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