Explore these useful resources for professional and personal development

Welcome to the RCM Leadership update page. Here you'll find resources to enhance your leadership skills in the workplace, as well as useful articles and reports.

What does a leader look like?

  • Authentic - standing up for personal values and beliefs
  • Emotionally intelligent - with a sense of self value and independence, taking personal responsibility for their own direction
  • Visionary - the ability to inspire others to see the vision and to want to be part of it
  • Passionate - demonstrating enthusiasm, energy and commitment, as well as sharing their passion
  • Self-effacing - self-aware with the ability to blend humility with drive

There are many recorded traits of a leader. The passion that midwives have for the care of women and midwifery potentially places them in a strong leadership position, although anecdotal evidence suggests that many midwives are reluctant to take on leadership roles. For some, this is because they see their leaders as stressed and undervalued, undertaking a wide-ranging post for which they may feel underprepared. Others are reluctant to step too far into leadership as they feel it takes them away from clinical care.

Nonetheless, every midwife has a leadership role to play in supporting women, colleagues, teams and the wider services. It is also important for all midwives to appreciate and understand the leadership role and the direction the service is developing into, so they can support the midwives who are moving practice forward.

There are many leadership theories out there. The earliest start with a great man/ traits basis which recognises individual traits and characteristics of the prescribed leader; leaders are born and not made and possess innate qualities and characteristics – you have it or you don’t. These traditional leadership theories have evolved greatly over the years and promote moving away from a ‘top down’ model to a fluid model based on relationships and interaction. The most recent evidence endorses compassionate, inclusive and collective leadership approaches. Michael West explains his perspectives on compassionate and inclusive leadership in the clip below.

The NHS Leadership Academy has a range of programmes, resources and activities to support personal and organisations leadership development

Making the maternity services safer: the role of leadership. The Solution Series 2 was published in 2021. Leadership is the ability of an individual, or a group of individuals, to influence and guide others in an organization.  It involves being heard, asking difficult questions, making hard decisions, creating and sharing a vision, establishing achievable goals and providing followers with the knowledge and tools necessary to achieve those goals.

The RCM believes that leadership is a role for everyone rather than exclusively senior colleagues at management level.

The RCM Leadership manifesto is comprised of seven practical steps in our midwifery that will help deliver the strong, effective midwifery voice that is needed to secure the improvements that we all want to see. 

See information about RCM's leadership programme: Syndeo .

The full report can be downloaded from the NHS England website and the RCM response is below.

Summary of the main findings and recommendations

The RCM have produced a summary of the National Maternity Review for members.

Read the RCM commentary of the report

The RCM has strongly welcomed the review recommendations, in particular the focus on putting women at the centre of care whilst also acknowledging the need for maternity staff to work in positive, supportive cultures.

Whilst much of the language in the report around continuity, personalisation and choice is not dissimilar to the language of earlier reports, such as Maternity Matters and Changing Childbirth, this report addresses issues in a different way to previous policy documents. It provides a real opportunity to shape services differently and the RCM will be supporting members to take an active part in bringing about change.

This briefing outlines the RCM’s reaction to the report, its analysis of the key recommendations and what the next steps will be. Read the RCM Commentary of the National Maternity Review.

Download the strategy for maternity in Northern Ireland.

Leadership Development

The RCM believe that all midwives should be able to develop their leadership skills, competence and expertise.

Below are some events, courses and resources that you may find useful.

i-learn is our online learning platform for members and it has a number of resources to support leadership development, including:

  • Leadership Framework; from theory to practice – this course is based on the NHS Leadership Academy model and will take around an hour to complete. It takes the practitioner from student midwife to senior leader and gives examples of what might be expected at each level.

Bite-sized leadership modules include:

Browse other online courses at the Leadership Academy website.

Syndeo: A leadership behaviour, quality improvement, and networking programme has been designed with the Royal College of Midwives and Enono for Band 7 leaders to help them connect better with themselves, their team, their colleagues and to grow healthier workplace cultures. This programme does this by using various international recognised products, theories, and frameworks to include the Five Behaviors™ of a Cohesive Team and Everything DiSC® Workplace Profile Assessment. For more information about the two key products The Five Behaviors video and Everything DiSC video.

Why should Band 7 midwifery leaders participate in the programme?

We can no longer work alone and in isolation. Cooperation lies at the heart of human lives, society, and our workplace from day-to-day interactions to some of our greatest personal and workplace endeavours. Participating in this programme will help midwives and their team:

  • Gain a greater appreciation of self and others – seeing yourself and how others see you.
  • Build trust on an emotional vulnerability-based level, use of a common language and consciously adopt healthier workplace behaviours.
  • Appreciate each other’s needs, fears, and limitations and associated behaviours with strategies to better connect so we can love what we do and why we do it.
  • Start to appreciate each other’s priorities, what motivates them.
  • Better understand themselves and each other whereby they better connect and not just work together but rise together.
  • Develop and strengthen your network to support quality improvement in your organisation.


See courses running in Edinburgh, Manchester and London.

The RCM Fellowship scheme recognises individuals who provide exceptional leadership and deliver excellence in practice, education or research. RCM midwife members can apply to be considered for a fellowship and if successful, applicants can use the fellowship status to display their support for the RCM.

For more information, please visit our Fellowship page.

Further Reading 

The Kings Fund have a range of publications on NHS culture, compassionate and collective leadership and change management. They also have specific page on work relating to maternity services.

West, M., Bailey, S and Williams, E., 2020. The Courage of Compassion. Supporting nurses and midwives to deliver high-quality of care. 

Need more help?

For more information, please contact us at [email protected]