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4D Leadership

4D Leadership – Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development

Twenty years ago the accumulation of skills, knowledge and experience (‘horizontal development’) was sufficient for business success. Today, it’s not. 4D Leadership – Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development, offers a new approach of ‘vertical development’.

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The new leadership style ripple


I trained as a nurse but left the profession following my degree and a few years in practice, because I felt so disillusioned. Just last week I had an experience that gave me hope that the ripple effect from my professional education has started to create genuine change.

I went to a reunion for the nurses who graduated with me some 30 years ago. At the event, the head of health studies at Southampton University, Professor Jessica Corner, spoke about her vision for the department. She revealed that the course had grown from just 10, when I started, to around 450 graduates every year. Jessica’s vision is to create healthcare professionals who are good leaders in their field – whatever that field is – nursing, physiotherapy, podiatry, etc. She’s trying to create leaders who think for themselves much more than before.

This may not sound significant, but it’s a huge shift for the world of healthcare. As a graduate nurse, I was frustrated because I didn’t feel I could make a difference. The strong hierarchy in the healthcare system means that you do as you’re told and you don’t think. With just a handful of other nurses in my situation, 30 years ago, it was a hierarchy I just couldn’t change, but it’s really encouraging to see how things have moved on.

The hierarchy meant that there was no room for me to grow as an individual. Nowadays nurses don’t feel as constrained. While things aren’t perfect, the hierarchy, command and control mentality is definitely shifting. Nurses are working at the forefront of research; they are using stronger academic abilities to look at best practice and make sure that patients receive the best care.

This experience is a great reminder that while change can take time, it can start and grow from a very small group of people. In fact, it can start from just one person. For me the change in the hierarchy in the healthcare system is largely down to just one person; our tutor. It was her determination to raise the academic standards and research rigour of nurses that really made what has happened since possible. She was a great teacher who was prepared to step out of the flow, and the way things had always been done, to move towards a vision that will ultimately make a difference.

Change really can start with one person, maybe that person is you.

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Sarah Watkins

Sarah is co-founder of Complete Coherence and has been involved in the development of the business over the last 15 years.

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