‘Leadership is not a person or position. It is a complex moral relationship between people, based on trust, obligation, commitment, emotion and a shared vision of the good.’ Joanne Ciulla (1998)

You can be a leader and develop leadership skills at any point in your personal life – you might volunteer for a local community group, as a sports leader, or on a board of trustees or governors. In your professional life, you can be a leader at any stage of your career, including when you are a student.

We have collated resources to support leadership development at all levels, and in all forms, based on the recommendations of RCSLT members. Each section pulls together a selection of materials that offer starting points, reflective pieces and key resources, on different aspects of leadership.

Where to start

We recommend that you use the section headings to identify the aspect of leadership that aligns with your interests and/or the identified leadership development in your personal development plan/leadership learning objectives.

How to use the resources

  • To support your own leadership continuing professional development (CPD) objectives.
  • As part of objective setting via a personal development review or supervision process.
  • To support student learners as part of their leadership skills development.
  • To support student learners on non-clinical leadership placements.
  • As a resource for wider structured leadership programmes.
  • As part of a new job induction pack.
  • As part of a preceptorship programme.
  • As a resource for in-service leadership/CPD training to advise and encourage leadership development in up-and-coming leaders and/or support project, service improvement and team working leadership skills.

We encourage you to discuss and reflect on your leadership learning in your teams and on social media. Tag your posts with @RCSLTLearn so we can follow your progress.

Please note: These resources are provided for informational purposes only. No endorsement is expressed or implied, and while we make every effort to ensure this page is up to date and relevant, we cannot take responsibility for pages maintained by external providers.

Comments and queries

If you have any general comments, queries or suggestions for resources that can be added to this page, please contact us.

Related pages

You may also find the following RCSLT pages useful in supporting your leadership journey:

What is a leader?

A leader is someone who is able to make a difference and have a positive impact on those around them. An effective leader is often defined as someone with the confidence and capability to directly or indirectly motivate others to act towards achieving a common goal. Leadership is as much about the person as their word and actions.

Understanding the difference and relationship between leadership and management is important.

Warren Bennis, a contemporary leadership scholar and author, is famous for making the distinction between the two: “The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing” (1989).

In his 2016 article, Nine Things That Separate The Leaders From The Managers, Andy Boynton shares his experience and lists nine things he believes any leader must do to be more than a manager.

We have included a range of different leadership perspectives below to demonstrate how diverse leadership can be.

Quick reads

  • 150 Leaders, I can’t be a leader because… blog post (October 2019) – How often do you associate being a leader with a hierarchical position? Effective leadership is about taking action on the things that are important to you, which is demonstrated through what you say and how you behave.
  • Living leadership (PDF), Bulletin feature article (March 2020, p11) – Carrie Biddle looks at what makes a good leader, and discovers SLTs have the skills that it takes.
  • Leading light (PDF), Bulletin feature article (March 2019, p22) – Ahead of the 2019 event at Speaker’s House to celebrate Professor Pam Enderby OBE’s contribution to the profession, Bulletin editor, Victoria Briggs, caught up with Pam to take a look back at her achievements.
  • Friday FAQs, Nuffield Trust blog post (October 2020) – Owen Williams explores ethnic diversity in NHS leadership positions.


RCSLT resources

Good leaders are continuous learners

Developing leadership skills involves challenging yourself to be the best that you can be. You may be surprised to find out what you are capable of achieving!

Leaders are continuous learners – the journey has no final destination. As you grow in capabilities and confidence, you will become empowered to lead with care, while your service users, colleagues and your wider profession will all share the benefits.

  • Good leadership (PDF) – Carrie Biddle and Victoria Harris on the importance of good leadership, in Bulletin‘s Spring 2021 issue.

Importance of leadership in speech and language therapy services

We need to support and develop speech and language therapists as leaders with the skills and experience to take on the challenges we face in our organisations, local communities and systems.

It is essential to recognise the benefits and impact of leadership capabilities, in their capacity to deliver safe, effective and sustainable care, with a core focus on continuous improvement for population health, workforce retention, wellbeing and value for money. The importance of leadership in speech and language therapy services is outlined in the RCSLT position statement (PDF).

The following literature searches provide information relating specifically to Allied Health Professions (AHP) leadership in the UK and a broader leadership evidence base to support the themes featured in our leadership pages.

Developing yourself as a leader

The decision to grow your leadership skills starts with getting to know yourself. This includes your strengths, characteristics, values, behaviours, personal drivers and aspirations. In this section, you will find a selection of materials that focus on what it takes to be a leader in both your personal and professional life.

Quick reference

Recommended books

  • Show up Hard by Shannon Weber (2018) and associated e-learning resource.
  • Unlocking leadership mindtraps: how to thrive in complexity by Jennifer Garner Berger (2019).
  • 7 habits of highly effective people, Special 30th anniversary edition by Stephen Covey (2020).
  • Stepping up: How to accelerate your leadership potential by Sarah Wood (2017).
  • Black box thinking by Matthew Syed (2015).


  • The transformational power of classical music Ted Talk – Benjamin Zander has two infectious passions: classical music and helping us all to realise our untapped love for it – and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, new connections. (Video length 20:31)


Wider resources

  • 16 personalities online personalities test
    Nb: There are many personality and preference tests available. Many organisations will have access to specific packages/tests which you may be able to access.
  • BMJ leadership resources platform – A contemporary collection of resources on leadership in healthcare and a handy latest leadership news and research thread.
  • The healthcare leadership model – This NHS tool, which is accessible to all, is a useful framework covering nine dimensions of leadership. The self-assessment tool can be useful to shape leadership development at any stage.
  • Health Education England multi-professional framework for advanced clinical practice (ACP) – Includes a pillar in leadership and management as one of four pillars of practice. Download the PDF.

Courses and programmes

There are a wide range of courses and programmes available. We recommend that you connect with your organisation’s learning and development team to find out what may be offered/funded locally. You may also apply for support of up to £800 from the RCSLT’s minor grants fund.

Here are leadership learning portals for the four nations of the UK which list resources, courses and programmes:

You can also take a look at the following online self-directed leadership courses and programmes:

  • RCSLT Leadership learning journey – Covers leadership concepts, developing leadership skills, creating positive teams, change management and improvement.
  • RCSLT Influencing learning journey – Improve your self-awareness, confidence and knowledge in influencing skills.
  • The Student Leaders programme – This programme aims to promote and develop leadership skills among the future nursing, midwifery and AHP workforce by working with first and second year pre-registration students and first-year postgraduate students through the Council of Deans. The programme is for individuals who aspire to lead and make a difference. Applications are encouraged from all four nations and all backgrounds and is known as the home of #150Leaders.
  • NHS Scotland leadership and management zone – Resources available on the Turas digital platform to help you to be the best you can be, as a leader or manager in health and care.
  • The Project Lift Leadership Profile (PDF) – A useful one page document to help you to frame the different aspects of your leadership development.
  • What is leadership? – A short online course from Future Learn.
  • Early Leadership AHP Network (ELAN) – ELAN is a repository and sharing platform on the NHS Learning Hub, with resources that guide planning and support delivery and evaluation of pre-registrant leadership activities, including placement design and delivery.

The following courses and programmes are directed towards people who are underrepresented in leadership positions:


List of AHP leadership programmes compiled by members of the AHPF


In England, a number of leadership apprenticeship standards are now available, including improvement leader, senior leader and systems thinker practitioner. Apprenticeships enable you to learn on the job. Speak to the apprenticeship lead within your organisation to find out which leadership apprenticeships may be available. Similar blended learning programmes may be available in other nations. Find out more about apprenticeships.

Fellowship programmes

Fellowship programmes enable individuals to enter an environment with opportunities to translate theory into action via experiential learning. This is a combination of on-the-job experience and theory, allowing for real-time application and deeper learning. Many organisations and arm’s-length bodies offer annual fellowship opportunities. The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust offers fellowships that empower individuals ‘to travel to learn and return to inspire’. The website includes a section on learning and practice where you can access the stories and background of fellows.


List of AHP leadership programmes compiled by members of the AHPF

Developing yourself as a resilient leader

In times of change there is often uncertainty. Leaders need to draw on their resilience to stay focused and strong, in order to get through challenging times and take others with them. Resilient people are better able to frame change in terms of challenge rather than threat.

Leading people with care and compassion is also key. In the 21st century, the benefits of collective leadership over hierarchical approaches are proving effective and popular.

Quick reference

Recommended books

  • The Shackleton Way by Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell (2003)
  • Awakening Compassion at Work: The Quiet Power that Elevates People and Organizations by Monica Worline and Jane Dutton (2017)
  • Intelligent Kindness: Rehabilitating the Welfare State 2nd Edition by John Ballatt, Penelope Campling and Chris Maloney (2020)


Wider resources

Developing yourself as an inclusive and culturally responsive leader

Feeling included and that you have a voice, can express an opinion and will be valued is important.

Inclusive leadership requires us to both understand our own views and perspectives – where they come from and what experiences that have shaped them – and to hold the space open to those with different perspectives and experiences. Inclusive leaders recognise the value of diversity in all forms.

Here are a range of resources to help you to develop your skills in inclusive leadership and consider what it takes to be culturally responsive as a leader within teams, services and organisations.

Quick reference


  • Changing the culture of conversations, AHP leaders podcast special edition June 2020 – This series reaches out to support and engage with Black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues.
  • AHP Role Model podcast AHPs Day 2020 special on AHP role model and the LGBTQ+ Community


  • This short artistic video from Emergence Lab (2015) shows what happens when you change your position and see the same thing from a different perspective (video length 1:44)
  • Inclusion starts with I, June 2017 (video length 3:27) – Starring staff from Accenture, this video demonstrates that bias can appear in both expected and unexpected ways, and that each of us has the power to make a difference.
  • Your privilege is showing Ted Talk, 2018 (video length 13:26) – Talking about race, sex, gender, class and privilege often gets put in the ‘too difficult’ pile for fear of saying the wrong thing and triggering feelings of personal discomfort. Lillian Medville shares helpful insights and experience.
  • Audrey Murrell talks about the key aspects of inclusive leadership and why it matters. (Video length 9:24)

Wider references

Developing yourself as a transformational leader

As the NHS and health and social care continue to change, we require diverse leadership at all levels – leaders who are able to identify those with the creativity to work in new ways, hold space for them to test ideas and work with others so that we may deliver safe, effective, and high quality care. It takes courage to think outside the box and to lead others forward with a clear vision and a well-organised plan that will sustain change.

Recommended books

  • Radical Help: How we can remake the relationships between us and revolutionise the welfare state by Hillary Cottam (2018). See also: Social Services Are Broken. How We Can Fix Them Ted Talk. (Video length 16:55)
  • Turn The Ship Around!: A True Story of Building Leaders by Breaking the Rules by L David Marquet
  • Uncharted: How to Map the Future Together by Margaret Heffernan (2020)
  • Complex adaptive leadership: Embracing Paradox and Uncertainty by Nick Obolensky (2014). See also: Complex adaptive leadership video (video length 04:57).

Wider resources

  • Engaging leadership: a better approach to leading a team (2018) – This discussion piece promotes engaging transformational leadership as an approach to leadership that is conducive to good-quality care because it nurtures staff’s confidence, motivation, ability to work with others and willingness to innovate.
  • NHS Horizons School for Change Agents: The new era of thinking and practice in change and transformation (2020) – This paper describes the ‘how’ of change (mindsets, processes, relationships and methods to make it happen) and shares examples of evidence to support this stance and provides leaders with a clear call to action. Download the paper (PDF).
  • A Digital Framework for Allied Health Professions (PDF) (2019) – NHS England document which recognises the importance of digital leadership skills to inspire and enable the wider workforce to utilise digital innovations in the delivery of health and social care.
  • NMAHP Digital Health and Care Leadership Programme – This Community of Practice contains information and resources about the impact of the NMAHP Digital Health and Care Leadership Programme led by NHS Education for Scotland.
  • Liberating Structures – An alternative way to approach and design how people work together.
  • Reinventing Work – A global grassroots movement for people interested in more human-centred, purposeful and self-organised ways of working.

Building networks

A key way for you to develop your leadership and resilience skills is to be part of a network. This may include networking locally within your organisation, within your local health and social care system, within professional networks and across professions via multidisciplinary and multi-agency networks.

Networks provide ideal experiential learning opportunities for people who learn best by doing.

RCSLT groups: Hubs and networks

RCSLT provides many ways for you to develop networking relationships in your region, your clinical area and with the RCSLT as part of our governance roles or our projects. Whatever level you are at and wherever you are, there is a way for you to network via the RCSLT.

Wider multi-professional/agency networks

  • Research champions include National Institute for Health Research’s (NIHR) Council for Allied Health Professions (CAHPR) Research Champion Network.
  • Quality Improvement (QI) Connectors – Q Community is a connected community working together to improve health and care quality across the UK. There are a range of special interest groups to engage with including the AHPs in QI Special Interest Group launched in 2019 hosted by the Q Community.
  • NHS Networks – Online networking platform for the NHS, with links to up-to-date blogs and resources.
  • The Knowledge Network – National online information service for health and social care in Scotland. Under the Communities of practice (Scotland) section you will find a number of leadership offerings to engage with.

Social media networking

Twitter is the platform of choice for many networking professionally on social media.

For support on how to use Twitter, access the #WeLearnToTweet resources on the We communities website.

We.communities.org is all about connecting, driving and supporting tweeting communities. All of the chats on the website are run by healthcare professionals who believe passionately that through connecting people and sharing information, ideas and expertise we can share best practice and ultimately provide better care. SLTs can connect with wider AHPs on Twitter via @WeAHPs.

Many clinical and professional groups also use closed Facebook and Whatsapp groups to maintain ongoing links, engage in conversations, share resources and offer support.

Our page on social media and online forums provides further guidance on using social media, including up-to-date advice to stay safe online.

Follow @RCSLTLearn on Twitter for leadership news and opportunities.

Social movements

Social movements provide an everyday leadership opportunity to connect with others and bring people together into an organised network to raise awareness and make change happen. They enable individuals to come from anywhere, embracing the concept of ‘new power’.

Please see our information on transformational leadership for more references to the NHS Horizons ‘school for change agents’ programme.

Quick reference

Recommended book

  • New Power: How it’s changing the 21st Century and why you need to know by Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans (2018)

Wider resources

Developing skills to lead teams within an organisation

Being a leader of a team can mean different things to different people. You may lead from the front or lead from within. Your team culture – as in ‘the way we do things around here’ – will impact on the type of leadership style that you choose to use.

You will find a range of learning and training offers around team leadership are available. Why don’t you start by exploring the local organisational opportunities offered by your learning and development team or equivalent? They will be able to tell you what you can access locally and within the region.

Quick reference

Recommended books

  • Bring your whole self to work: How vulnerability unlocks creativity, connection and performance by Mike Robbins (2018) – See also: Mike Robbins’ Ted Talk (Video length 12:05)
  • Conversations worth having: Using appreciative inquiry to fuel productive and meaningful engagement by Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres (2018)
  • Crucial conversations: Tools for talking when the stakes are high by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron Mcmillan and Al Switzler (2002) – See also: animated video of core messages (Video length 06:53)
  • Start with why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action by Simon Sinek (2011)


Courses and programmes

Staff health and wellbeing

If you are responsible for leading a team, it’s important to consider your own health and wellbeing as well as that of your team, the individual people within it. It’s also important to consider ways to support them in times of change where uncertainty can cause anxiety.
We have included some ideas to support you with this and to positively frame your leadership stance.

Quick reference

Recommended books

  • Shine: Rediscovering your energy, happiness and purpose by Andrew Cope and Gavin Oattes (2018)
  • Chief Joy Officer: How Great Leaders Elevate Human Energy and Eliminate Fear by Richard Sheridan (2018)


Wider resources

Developing yourself as clinical and professional leaders

Speech and language therapy services require effective clinical and professional leadership to ensure they are able to deliver high-quality, safe and cost-effective services for people with communication and swallowing needs.

Here are a collection of resources to support your understanding and development of the skills and attributes required to be a successful clinical/professional leader at all levels.

Quick reference

  • Leading from the front (PDF), Bulletin (September 2018, p18) – Dr Joanne Fillingham talks with Amelia Dale about leadership, learning and building a successful career

Wider resources

Courses and programmes

For further course/programme signposting take a look at the developing yourself as a leader section on this page.

RCSLT resources

Leading in education and the development of others

The ability to inspire others and to be a positive role model aligning words to actions that others can learn from are key skills of leaders. Good leaders seek to provide learning environments and support learning opportunities where others are able to grow their own knowledge, skills and confidence.

Coaching and mentoring are useful skills to successfully support the development of others. Completing a theoretical course may provide you with the knowledge you need, but putting this knowledge into action will help you to refine your skills and develop your competency and capabilities. There are many similarities and differences between coaching and mentoring, but both are effective in supporting the education and development of others.

Coaching tends to focus on improving performance. Actions and learning are self-directed by the coachee for a contracted period of time.

Mentoring often describes a relationship where a more experienced colleague or educator shares their knowledge and lived experience to support the development of a less experienced individual.

Quick reference


Recommended book

  • Manager as Coach: The New Way To Get Results by Jenny Rogers with Karen Whittleworth and Andrew Gilbert (2012)

Wider resources

RCSLT resources

Leading with care on patient safety and quality improvement

Leaders need to make decisions and implement change based on good evidence, be it clinical practice, service-base, patient safety and/or experience of care. Connecting with your local patient safety/quality improvement teams and networks is a great place to start.

Take a look at our information on building networks for further signposting to national quality improvement networks.

Quick reference

Recommended book

  • Rethinking Patient Safety by Suzette Woodward (2017) – This book provides insights on practical actions that can be immediately implemented to improve the safety of patient care in healthcare. It provides readers with a different way of thinking in terms of changing behaviour, practices and safety culture, as well as processes and systems.


Wider resources

RCSLT resources

Developing your clinical business skills

All speech and language therapists should have an understanding of clinical business skills: what are the drivers for your service, how do you deliver to these and how do you prove the value of your service?

You’ll need to understand the language of clinical business in order to maintain your service, be ready to adapt to change and to be able to speak to commissioners and budget holders and others you will need to influence.

Those in leadership roles will need to engage their leadership and influencing skills when they want to introduce innovative practice, transform service delivery using digital technologies, adapt service specifications and when developing a business case for moving into new sectors, such as justice.

The resources on this page should assist you in developing the skills to plan for and implement change.

How finance works

It is important for leaders to understand the financial landscape in which they operate. Leaders often need to make and/or support the decisions of operational managers based on good evidence within a framework of funding, budgets and financial constraints.

  • But I don’t speak finance… I’m a clinician (video length 12:37) – 2016 RCSLT webinar on creating partnerships between clinicians and finance colleagues to improve rehabilitation services.
  • Future Focused Finance – A national programme designed to engage people in improving NHS Finance to support the delivery of quality services for patients.
  • The King’s Fund – A useful resource for up-to-date news on the NHS finance position, featuring blogs, reports and signposts to longer reads.
  • Video from the Kings Fund (video length 2:16) – Video from April 2020 which shows how funding flows through the health service.

Leading on service planning and service redesign

Here are a range of resources to give you ideas and support to help you to grow your clinical business skills.

External resources

RCSLT resources

Each nation has future-facing strategies for healthcare improvement which will be useful to consider when developing your service specification and/or a future vision for your services as a leader. See our region specific sections for further information.

Influencing others

Being able to identify the conditions that enable successful relationships to flourish and being able to influence, persuade and negotiate are all important leadership skills. Those who develop good relationships with budget holders and decision-makers stand a better chance of surviving in times of change.

RCSLT resources

Developing yourself as a strategic leader within complex systems

We need leaders with the confidence and ability to bring people together from across services and organisational boundaries to meet the needs of people in complex dynamic systems. Strategic leadership requires a clear vision, trust, and the ability to value and manage good working relationships.

Quick reference

  • Strategic team leadership, NHS England blog – Amy Edmondson, of Harvard Business School, discusses she has learnt from a leadership masterclass and shares a four-part approach on how teaming can help to increase the chances of success.
  • Francesca Gino blog (November/December 2019) Cracking the Code of Sustained Collaboration – Six training techniques that enable both leaders and employees to work well together, learn from one another, and overcome the psychological barriers that get in the way of doing both.
  • A plan for the future, Bulletin, May 2018, p20 (PDF) – Morag Dorward and Della Money unveil the RCSLT’s strategic plan for the coming three-year period (2018-21)

Recommended book

  • Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by Stanley McChrystal (2015)


Wider resources

RCSLT resources

Leadership across our nations

In this section you will find information, guidance and resources that are relevant and specific to leading with care within each nation of the UK.
Please note additional resources from across all four nations are also referred to throughout the main leadership resource pages where they are felt to have wider relevance and use.

The following courses and programmes are relevant to England and Wales:

England – Key policies and drivers

Wales – Key policies and drivers

Northern Ireland – Key policies and drivers

Courses and programmes

  • HSC Leadership Centre – large selection of courses on different aspects of leadership for different levels. Northern Ireland recently ran the ‘Our emerging workforce’ initiative for allied health professionals (AHP) in bands 7 and 8a and the ‘Our collective future’ leadership initiative for AHP bands 8b and above.
  • HSC eLearning module launched for allied health professionals – This module launched in September 2018 aims to help AHPs increase their awareness of other AHPs, the Department of Health AHP Strategy, AHP leadership and knowledge of clinical governance.

Scotland – Key policies and drivers

  • A Fairer Healthier Scotland 2017–2022 – Public Health Scotland’s vision and strategic priorities for Scotland in which all of its people and communities have a fairer share of the opportunities, resources and confidence to live longer, healthier lives.
  • Scottish Government Ready to Act (2016) – A transformational plan for children and young people, and their parents, carers and families who require support from allied health professionals (AHPs). The plan sets out to meet the changing needs of children and young people in providing an equitable and sustainable model that reflects the early years agenda and the integration of health and social care services.
  • Scottish Government Ready to Act: interim report on implementation and recommendations (2018) – Report on the progress made on supporting the allied health professions children and young people (AHP CYP) community and direction for 2018-2020.

Course and programmes

RCSLT leadership programme

Inspire is RCSLT’s new leadership programme which has been created to support members who are beginning their leadership journey. The programme focuses on three main areas: understanding self-awareness; leading a team; and promoting and developing your profession.

Find out more about the programme.

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