Leadership Development for Public Health Professionals

This is a programme for public health registrars and consultants, people in more junior public health roles, or people in other parts of public services, such as Environmental Health, whose jobs have a public health component.


This programme is designed to help you develop your leadership capacity and confidence, using systems leadership approaches so that you can be at the forefront of shaping better outcomes in public health. The aim is to give you practical ways to navigate through complexity and uncertainty, not only in the context of the longer-term impact of Covid-19 and the current external environment, but also in relation to addressing health inequalities and improving life chances, the prevention agenda, population health management and the impact of climate change.  This programme will help to develop your systems leadership knowledge, skills and behaviours so that, whatever your role, you have the confidence to lead in a complex world.

Key Information

Duration:  Over four months

Format: 4 half-day online workshops

Fee: £550+VAT per person

Faculty: Debbie Sorkin, National Director of Systems Leadership

Who is the programme for?

  • Heads of Public Health
  • Public Health Consultants
  • Public Health Registrars
  • Heads of Services with a Public Health component
  • Public Health Practitioners/Advanced Public Health Practitioners
  • People working in Health Protection
  • People working in Health Improvement
  • Public Health Leads/Officers
  • Health and Wellbeing Programme Managers
  • Integrated Services Managers

If your role isn’t listed here but you’re interested in applying for the programme, please contact Debbie.sorkin@leadershipcentre.org.uk for a discussion.

Benefits for you

The programme is co-designed with you so will be tailored to your personal needs and the real-time issues you’re facing. It will provide:


  • An opportunity to build your leadership capacity and confidence, especially in relation to systems leadership
  • An opportunity to develop a range of skills and approaches that will help you navigate complex leadership challenges and work at system level
  • A way to equip yourself to take on systems and public health leadership roles, across organisations and places
  • A way of building links and connections across and beyond Public Health
  • Perspectives on strengthening the idea of Public Health being integral to leadership across an Integrated Care System

Focus and Structure

The programme will have a specific focus on working at system level and in complex situations, introducing systems leadership ideas, tools and approaches designed to give people the ability to work effectively in uncertainty; where there are few easy answers to deep-seated problems; and where anyone involved with public health will need to use influence rather than relying on positional power. The programme will place an emphasis on practical change and learning by doing, with participants invited to bring real-time complex issues with which they are grappling, so that they apply the learning as they go along. 

The programme will focus on what we know works in these kinds of complex situations: shared purpose; building relationships, trust and influence; and on specific pieces of work – ‘safe-to-fail experiments’ that participants can use to try out new ways of working. Although all the content will be easily accessible, using plain English to describe and explain concepts and ideas, it will be grounded in theoretical and evidential rigour, drawing on approaches and frameworks that we have found to be of particular use in developing confidence to work in complex situations. These will include the systems leadership behaviours in Exceptional leadership for exceptional times; Ronald Heifetz on adaptive leadership; Margaret Heffernan on uncertainty; and Myron Rogers’ work on effecting change in systems.

Content will include:

  • How you lead when you’re not in charge: working in complexity and fundamentals of systems leadership
  • Building a picture of our systems and our key stakeholders
  • Understanding and influencing stakeholders to shift perspectives and therefore what happens on the ground
  • Using public narrative to build a case for change and garner support
  • Compassionate leadership and resilience
  • Working with formal and informal power.

Part of each session will involve small-group working in breakout groups, so there will also be opportunities for participants to identify commonalities and get coaching on their issue from others, reinforcing the idea that they’re not alone in what they’re facing; that they can learn from others; and that they can also contribute learning, so they recognise their own strengths and build their leadership confidence. They might also choose to continue to work together between or after the sessions, to keep making progress and deepen their understanding.

Beyond the workshops, we will encourage participants to keep their connections going, either in groups via WhatsApp or in ‘buddy pairs’ to co-coach each other and reinforce learning.  The aim here is to provide a legacy from the programme, so that it is an investment in overall leadership capacity and capability amongst public health practitioners, and specifically in the capacity of participants to create change and maximise influence at system level. 


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