NHS IT Ransomware; The Trusted Executive

The ransomware attack on NHS IT systems dominated media coverage over the weekend and really brought home the importance of cyber security for an organisation like ours. Technology has transformed the way we provide support to Staffordshire people in recent years. Protecting that technology and the systems we use is everyone’s responsibility at the county council and there are simple things we must all do when using county council IT. Look at for more information in an email to all staff today.

You might remember my mentioning John Blakey of the Aston Business School and his work entitled “The Trusted Executive”.  He has undertaken a survey with us and I recently had a briefing on the results.  John’s thesis is that trust in our society is reducing at an alarming rate – he believes, and I tend to agree, that the pendulum has swung away from our being a deferential society, and that, along with the good things that come with that, something has been lost.  John comes from a private sector background, and we are the first public sector organisation he has surveyed.  It does mean that although the results are illuminating, we don’t really have anybody else to compare ourselves with just yet.

John’s model of leadership works on three pillars – ability, integrity and benevolence.  For anybody who has read Stephen Covey’s books, such as “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and “Principle Centred Leadership”, he’s coming from a similar direction, striking a balance between traditional leadership qualities such as delivering, coaching and consistency, softer skills in the integrity area such as honesty, openness and humility, and kindness, moral courage and evangelising in the benevolence area.  John surveyed over 300 county council staff, and found that both the senior and wider leadership teams, and me, were strong on ability but weaker on benevolence.

The good news is that you think that leaders are honest and we deliver. On the weaker side, we rated less well on showing our vulnerability, which is not a great surprise, as it is not a quality that one would traditionally associate with leaders – it’s certainly not one that I would have named previously.  I would appreciate some feedback on whether this is something that readers in the organisation would like to see.  Equally, I’d value any thoughts from those that took part, or others, on what you would like us generally, and me in particular, to do more of, less of, or differently.  I found John’s feedback very useful and will be using it as one of the guides as I enter my third year in post.

Yours,

John Henderson

Chief Executive

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2 Responses to “NHS IT Ransomware; The Trusted Executive”

  1. Julian Cragg says:

    An excellent report, thank you.

    My belief is that our society is becoming less understanding of inequality and restrictive in terms of happiness and social capital.

    There is less consideration for our neighbours and those that would benefit from a smile, a cup of tea and a chat.

    When we hear of an individual or a group with difficulties there is an outpouring of support, but we walk around oblivious of the means and the where with all to hear what we choose to avoid.

    I would like to know more about the work of John Blakey and your commitment to making Staffordshire more sincere in valuing friendship, social engagement, communicating and doing the right thing.

  2. John Henderson says:

    Julian, many thanks for the feedback. John’s book is called “The Trusted Executive”. He started in British Gas, and became convinced that there was more to leadership than achieving goals and financial targets. His interest has coincided with the erosion of trust in Western society, particularly in institutions and authority figures. He doesn’t ask to turn the clock back to a more subservient or respectful age, but rather to balance the ability focus with integrity and benevolence. If you’ve read any of Stephen Covey’s books, you’ll be familiar with the themes. Both authors come at the problem from a strong belief system, but neither frame their thoughts in religious terms. They are both worth a read.

    As for me, I have always tried to lead with integrity and honesty, and will continue to do so. I’ve been enormously impressed with my Staffordshire County Council colleagues, and I’m open to suggestions as to how we can improve engagement and communications across the organisation.

    Thanks again.

    Yours,

    John Henderson