NHS chief executive DOWN 3

The fall from last year’s number one slot reflects the power of this new government and this is going to be a testing period for Sir David. His principal objectives can be expressed simply: leading implementation of major change and strengthening financial management across the NHS.

He is very much a “manager’s manager” and has said he’s not a politician. The new political personalities determined to shake up the NHS will test his nerve. He has been shrewd to bring to the DH able NHS players such as Ian Dalton and Dame Barbara Hakin to lead reform, not forgetting day-to-day delivery under David Flory. These changes will help reassure managers who have not exactly warmed to the style of their new political masters.

Although he is said to work hard to keep his centralising instincts under control, some speculate he will be less comfortable dismantling the top ranks of the NHS under the proposed reforms. Whether he decides, as he enters his fifth year in the job, to move to pastures new only he knows. He’s unlikely to talk openly about his future but it’s reasonable to assume he is the person most managers want to see leading change and acting as a counterweight to his political neighbours in Richmond House.   

Neil Goodwin, director of GoodwinHannah and visiting professor of leadership studies, Manchester Business School