This refreshing take on leaders has its finger on the pulse, says Phil Kenmore

There is a lot of tosh written about leadership. So much so it is hard for those with something sensible to say to distinguish themselves from the charlatans. Well, help is at hand in the form of this useful book from Jean Hartley and John Benington of Warwick University.

Its premise is pleasingly simple: a book that looks at leadership through the lens of the available evidence base, explaining the academic approaches along the way. The authors also provide a coherent and practical structure for this review - the Warwick six Cs framework - through which they look at the literature around leadership: concepts, characteristics, contexts, challenges, capabilities and consequences.

The book builds on the idea that too many earlier reviews of leadership approaches centred on the individual or “heroic” model. Instead, it examines evidence for different leadership approaches in the wider arena that healthcare leadership has to operate.

This idea is nothing new, but the authors do provide an easy to use, robust and accessible review of the evidence. With a chapter on each of the Cs, summary introductions and conclusions make a potentially dry academic approach very user friendly.

The surprising thing is that this book is about healthcare. It could be about any part of the public or in fact private sector.

What makes this book most useful is the relevance to the current healthcare landscape. Sections on collaborative leadership, mergers, linking leadership to outcomes and importantly public value, will all be essential reading for NHS leaders.

Phil Kenmore is a director in the public sector practice at management consultancy Hay Group.

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