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A view of the Radcliffe Camera in Oxford University

Evidence-Based

Research conducted at Oxford University underpins our programmes, workshops and resources. Our systematic reviews of leadership development in healthcare are the go-to resources for evidence (see the Research Section). Our programmes are some of the most extensively researched and evaluated in the world.

A photo of participants enjoying an exercise about influencing

Collaborative

We work with organisations and individuals to co-design and co-deliver leadership development programmes to meet local needs and context. Context is key in leadership​ development. Our programmes bring in both participants and faculty from varied backgrounds to create a rich learning environment.

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Impact-focused

Our team bring together expertise from clinical, research, education and coaching backgrounds. We have won awards and accolades for our evidence-driven, engagement-focused programmes, workshops, coaching and research. We stand out due to our energy and drive to challenge the status quo, drive forward the field and deliver development that energises, enables and supports impactful leadership​​​​​

In our programmes page there is more information about some of our flagship programmes. This page also includes the links for programme applications, and the form to sign up for notifications relating to programmes opportunities.

What's New?

Publication

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Faculty Photo
By Dr Lorna Henderson & Dr Vasiliki Kiparoglou & Dr Oscar Lyons - 26 June 2023

To see more of our publications and news, follow the links:

Our Approach

Mixed Faculty

Programmes are more likely to report organisational outcomes when a programme is designed and delivered by both external faculty (with leadership expertise) and internal faculty (with lived experience in the culture and structure of the organisation).

We co-design our programmes with people who work within an organisation, as well as involving these people in delivery of the programme. This usually involves delivering teaching sessions, mentoring participants, or fireside chats where people speak openly about their experiences with leadership within an organisation. 

Methods Focus

While educational content clearly needs to be relevant, educational methods appear more important for organisational outcomes. Programmes which report organisational outcomes are more likely to include leadership projects, coaching and mentoring and other active learning methods. Current consensus in leadership development literature is that learning in leadership programmes results primarily from participants applying new ideas into practice (Avolio, Reichard, et al., 2009; Avolio, Walumbwa, et al., 2009; Frich et al., 2015; Geerts et al., 2020; Kingsley-Smith et al., 2023; Lyons et al., 2020; Petrie, 2015; Rabin, 2014; Spehar et al., 2012).

Our programmes use longitudinal projects, action learning projects, role play, discussions, and practical projects between sessions to help ensure participants have the opportunity to learn through practice.

 

Participant Engagement

There is clear evidence from the educational literature that participants tend to learn most from their interactions between each other (Austria et al., 2013; Dreyfus & Dreyfus, 1980; Frich & Spehar, 2018; Hammick et al., 2008; Hansen et al., 2020; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Walker et al., 2022; Wenger et al., 2002). This is particularly true for interpersonal skills and relationships, where impact from a programme relies not only on application of learning into practice (Petrie, 2015; Rabin, 2014) but also on creating structural and social environments that are open to different behaviours (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger et al., 2002).

 

We therefore consciously design our programmes to create conditions for participants to interact with and learn from each other, and to support participants feeling empowered to try applying their learning into their working environments.

Multi-disciplinary Participants

Healthcare is delivered and led across disciplinary boundaries, and there is evidence that including participants from multiple disciplinary backgrounds supports outcomes for individuals and organisations (Frich & Spehar, 2018; Klaber & Lee, 2011). We therefore strongly recommend that participants are from multiple disciplinary backgrounds.

Workshop Components

Because leadership learning and cultural change result from application into practice rather than from teaching in a workshop or session, we focus our training approaches on helping to support opportunities for participants to adopt and adapt new behaviours in their working environments. 

We usually base our programmes around in-situ group leadership projects, which offer a supported way for participants to apply new leadership behaviours into their working environments. Under this design, the purpose of workshops is explicitly to inspire, to suggest ideas for how people might try to behave in a new way (supported by evidence), and to curate a supportive space for participants to reflect and consider how they will apply new ideas into their work.

When it is not possible due to time constraints to incorporate group leadership projects, we include action-learning type individual projects. 

Educational Content

Current literature indicates that the specific content of a leadership development programme is less important than the methods used (Kingsley-Smith et al., 2023; Lyons et al., 2020). It appears to be more important that the content is tailored to the needs of the participants, than that any specific topic is included.

While methods trump content, we ensure our material is participant-focused and relevant. Topics range from Project Planning to Healthcare Strategy, tailored to meet the specific needs of each programme and its participants.

We always work with our partners and participants to select the most appropriate and useful content for each programme.

Two students and a facilitator working together

Origins

Our programmes were formed as a result of our founder's doctoral research at Oxford University from 2016-2021.

 

Having completed three systematic reviews on leadership development in healthcare, we saw that too much leadership development is based on shaky foundations. We were asked to role-model best practices by designing, delivering and evaluating a leadership programme for just doctors in Oxford University Hospitals.

Oxford University is world-renowned for its research. Health professionals are trained to be sceptical. Working in Oxford with health professionals has driven us to the highest standards for our programmes and for our research. 

From a single programme with only doctors in 2018, we have grown to deliver and research multi-disciplinary leadership programmes across a range of hospitals, universities and other organisations, based on our reputation for meticulous evidence-based design and our focus on real-world impact.

Our programmes are evaluated more extensively than any other in the UK, so that we can ensure that we have the impact we are focused on.

 

We use these evaluations to improve our programmes, and we share our results widely via academic publications, presentations and consultations. The evidence shows that effective leadership is essential for a functional and improving health system, and we want to ensure that investments into leadership development are worthwhile.

A graph showing high levels of impact from programmes in confidence, motivation and job statisfaction

People

Our core faculty team includes experts from clinical, research, education, and coaching backgrounds. We are individually and collectively committed to supporting the development of compassionate, considerate, inclusive, and impactful leadership.

 

Why "Thrum"?

Leadership is about resonance, teamwork, and collaboration. Our name, "Thrum," evokes the harmonious sound of individuals coming together to create something greater than the sum of their parts. Just as a thrum signifies a collective vibration, we aim to foster an environment where healthcare leaders resonate with one another, amplifying their strengths and driving impactful change. 

Organisations we have worked with

The Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management
Oxford University Hospitals
Oxford University Primary Care Health Sciences
The Rhodes Trust
The British Red Cross
Oxford and Cambridge Medical Management
Oxford University Nuffield Department of Surgical Sicnes
Always Consult
The NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre
Medical Mediation Foundation Logo
Green Templeton College, Oxford Universirty
New College, Oxford University
BMJ Leader Journal
The Saïd Business School, Oxford University
King's College London
The Canadian College of Health Leaders
Teams and Leadership logo
The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship
The University of Oslo

What people say

"I was post-nights and didn't even feel sleepy because of how interesting it all was!"

"Excellent session! Really enjoyed the discussion about healthcare finance and policy-making. Good group work session."

"Made potentially distant topics very relevant to us"

"Just carry on what you're doing. Amazing program!"

"I am really enjoying the course and would recommend to colleagues next year"

"Great speakers, great use of stories"

"The management sessions are excellent – well informed engaging speakers – I could listen all day!"

“I have been successful in my latest job interview, an interview I also did a year ago where I wasn't successful at the time.  My feedback for getting the role this time round was that I have gained much more knowledge and experience in service development and leadership. Which I feel is down to the knowledge I have gained from the course and then had been able to implement in my practice since starting the course.”  

“I believe by being self-aware of my own actions and perceptions and how I may be perceived in situations this will help me become a compassionate and strong leader which I feel the trust would benefit from. I have worked for the trust on and off for 9 years and the course has really highlighted what makes a good leader/manager and what doesn't. In that time, I have experienced and worked for quite a lot of weak, mean, and bad managers who unfortunately mentor and create similar bad managers. This course allows this cycle to be broken.”

“ELP changed my understanding about leadership and conflict management and made me a humbler person who is ready to accommodate other’s views; there was a noticeable change in my behaviour at my workplace. This experience changed my thoughts about other’s ability to find solutions to problems and I have started to pay more attention to other opinions. Now I find it easier than before to manage conflict and appreciate others.”

“Often, there have been instances where myself and my colleagues have felt that we have not been able to provide the standard of care that we would have hoped due to systemic factors out of our control. When this becomes a repeated observation, it reinforces disillusionment and self criticism that can have adverse effects on intrinsic motivation, morale, and mental well-being. This is reflected in the high rate of burnout reported amongst healthcare professionals, which is a reality amongst many of my colleagues. ELP has allowed me to reframe hardship as an opportunity to understand a system’s failings and a driver for advocacy and meaningful change.”

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