An ambulance service in the West Midlands has apologised after staff were asked to rate how “cool” Adolf Hitler was in a questionnaire.
The survey was sent out to 4,000 employees at West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) as part of a £10,000 study to identify what made good leadership.
Respondents were asked to rate how “cool” 10 famous leaders were on a scale of one to five. Besides Hitler, the list included Gordon Brown, Richard Branson, Winston Churchill and Fabio Capello.
A WMAS spokesman apologised for any offence caused. He said: “At the end of the day, Hitler galvanised a nation into doing something quite unusual. Dreadful atrocities took place off the back of that. The staff involved were not trying to cause any offence to anybody.”
The project, called Making Leadership Cool: How Emerging Leaders Wish to be Managed and Supported, is a year-long study being conducted by two members of staff at the ambulance service.
The aim was to identify the key characteristics of good leadership, to allow the organisation and the wider NHS to be more efficient and effective which, in turn, would have a direct and positive impact on improving patient care, WMAS said.
The questionnaire, sent out last month, had so far been completed by “several dozen” members of staff, the spokesman said.
“The project sought to discuss different styles of leadership and the characteristics of leadership to help staff at all levels develop their career,” he said.
“In discussing different styles of leadership, a survey which is one small part of the project sought to include an analysis of the dictatorial style. With hindsight, it would have been better to have used a different example to illustrate this.”
The funding for the project was provided by the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority, he added.