Don't think what, think why.This is a photo of John Ebo who is an alumni of the fellowship programme.

Hello, my name is John.

I am honoured to be an alumnus and bona fide fellow of the HSJ System Leadership Initiative of the Year. I am a systems leader, aspiring director appointment in waiting, made ready by this programme. The immediate future is seriously bright.

Let me tell you my story.

As a first-generation immigrant of Nigerian heritage of Yoruba extraction; fourth son of seven children; 19 years in Local Authority, Head of Service at Leeds City Council; previous Non-Executive Director of St. Gemma’s Hospice, with private sector management experience, I have a unique and authentic leadership skill set, a lived experience and leadership lens through which complex challenges can be viewed, refracted, and deciphered.

The Fellowship programme takes people like me and recognises the talent and ambition. It then provides the wrap around needed to lead in a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity - you’ve heard that before, right? Of course you have. It describes our health and care environment and the wicked issues that we must face head on. This is what made me apply to join the fellowship. The stretch! and there’s plenty of it. I was and I am ambitious to make a difference in public service, and I also want to get on.

Over 14 months of the programme, I’ve led strategic work teasing out what it means for our Partnership to be an anchor institution. I’ve been trusted to lead this mission, collaborate and deliver how we take this rhetoric forward. I’ve formed and directed teams across public health, social care, and health care to deliver better outcomes for older people. I’ve supported activity and leadership of our climate change ambition as a clear health emergency. I’ve worked with leaders across our region as a member of the Mayor’s Economic Recovery Board. I’ve contributed to the region’s Health Tech Leadership Forum, collaborating on embedding public health priorities into our regional medtech strategy.

Now don’t tell me that did not excite you. It did me.

And now? I am taking on a new leadership challenge on inclusivity for my substantive employer, Leeds City Council. This prospect makes my heart sing, from Leeds all the way to Lagos. Our Partnership does not stand around and admire the problem. We sort it. So, if you are thinking of your leadership journey, don’t play at the margins. Get stuck in, but it’s no free ride. The ambition? diversity of leadership, leading to diversity of thought, leading to improved outcomes for the people we serve across our places.

…and I haven’t told you the best bit. Values. The Partnership’s fellowship journey digs deep into you, to enable intrinsic understanding of WHY. I now know that driven by WHY, the WHAT naturally follows. And what is my WHY?…..well, I belong to something bigger than myself. I am guided by the strongest desire to improve health inequalities, and I am surrounded by colleagues who passionately believe in the same common purpose.

So… “Don’t think WHAT, think WHY”.

John Ebo