David Crampsey – Deputy Medical Director and Divisional Director Surgery at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust

He was part of one of the first Shadow Board cohorts in 2017, with West Yorkshire and Harrogate Integrated Care System.

The opportunity for him to be on Shadow Board came about because his Chief Executive identified that David had the potential to have a systems role, and not just undertake an internal-facing post. But whilst he is an experienced senior leader in healthcare, he was clear that his time on ShadowBoard brought many benefits:

“One of the tangibles for me is that I learned in greater detail how a board functions and how a board can be chaired well. During my time on Shadow Board I saw two very different, but equally effective chairing styles and I learned from those. I also now have the confidence to undertake a systems leadership role in which I chair a Board, which I might not have been able to do before.”

Like the majority of participants in Shadow Board, the networking opportunity offered was also a positive of taking part in the programme.

“Being relatively new to the system I very quickly formed a network of people who had interests and professional backgrounds quite different to my own, but that were absolutely all aligned in terms of our approach to making West Yorkshire and Harrogate ICS a better place to work and a better place for the people who use our services. I wouldn’t have had that exposure either. So actually I felt that I developed a network quite early on.”

David also appreciated those who were part of the Shadow Board training set-up, particularly the ‘hot spot’ speakers.

“One of the other key things for me was exposure to key leaders in our system at an early stage and hearing authentic stories of their leadership .. it was really very powerful”

“One of the other key things for me was exposure to key leaders in our system at an early stage and hearing authentic stories of their leadership from Helen Hirst (Chief Officer Airedale, Wharfedale & Craven, Bradford City and Districts CCGs), Rob Webster (Chief Executive at South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Lead CEO for WHY&H Health and Care Partnership) and Tom Riordan (Chief Executive, Leeds City Council). Hearing their very different, but very authentic, descriptions of what they do, what motivates them was really very powerful for me and one of the highlights of the programme.”

By taking part in a Shadow Board, participants get the opportunity to not just see, but also experience, what it is like working at executive level. As David explains:

“I have an understanding of the truly difficult decisions that some of our leaders are having to make, which means not making assumptions that stuff hasn’t happened because somebody hasn’t tried – I’ve got a greater understanding of the politics of the system.”

Commitment to the board was clear as David’s Shadow Board was continued for a full year, rather than the scheduled 3 months. The benefits were being felt outside of the group, as David explains:

“Our opinions as a Shadow Board were fed into the systems leadership exec meeting as well. Often there was some feedback that we had clearly spent some time digesting the issues and we had the potential to influence the decision making that was happening. We had to review – in depth – papers that were being presented to the systems leadership executive every month. So we had really processed that information and challenged it quite considerably, and I felt like I had a real knowledge of West Yorkshire and Harrogate priorities that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t been on the programme.”

When asked why do Shadow Board, David was clear in what it brought him, and why Shadow Board is important:

Your first exposure at board shouldn’t be as a board member

“It exposes you to a network which you might not have had. It’s an investment in leadership development which exposes people to the dynamics of an effective board, and allows them to mature in a space without that board level accountability. Your first exposure at board shouldn’t be as a board member. And on a personal level, I’m a more effective board chair than I would be had I not undertaken the Shadow Board”