Increasingly, doctors are being explicitly tasked with providing both coaching and mentoring within their professional practice.

Not everyone has the opportunity to attend training and explore their skills thoroughly. Here Dr Sanjay Agrawal writes about embarking on a professional coach-mentoring qualification.

 

It has been quite a journey. I decided to undertake formal training in coach-mentoring in 2017. There were a number of reasons to do this; firstly, I found myself doing a lot of informal coaching at work when people wanted advice about careers, skills or other situations, secondly I understood the benefits of coaching from my wife (Me! Ed)and lastly I observed in my professional work that it is pretty uncommon for others to take an active interest in your ambitions, plans, projects or problems and just listen and help you to come to your own conclusions – which is what coaching provides and I which I wanted to be able to give.

Although I could have carried on informally coaching others I thought it would be much more useful to become properly trained with a Diploma in Coach-Mentoring, so that I could give the people I was working with the full benefits of coaching, and be secure that I was operating within a clear governance framework with oversight from a supervising coach-mentor and adhering to standards set out by the European Mentoring and Coaching Confederation (EMCC). There are numerous providers of training in coach-mentoring and I chose the one that seemed comprehensive and fitted in (flexible) with my day job, and I was lucky enough to secure funding from my trust and Health Education East Midlands for the training.

Having studied for what seems like hundreds of exams over the last few decades, the thought of doing another qualification and more specifically the time commitment, wasn’t a motivating factor for me! However, having carved out the time to start and developing a cunning (actually ramshackle) plan for the 9 months the diploma training takes, I got the ball rolling in March 2018 by participating in one of the required workshops and felt a real sense of relief that I was finally off the mark. The workshop included a session of ‘practice’ coaching with other attendees and I have to say the 15 minutes we had as ‘the coach’ felt like the longest 15 minutes of my life, possibly worse than some of the school plays I have had to endure as a parent. The next big step was to identify potential victims (i.e. volunteer coachee’s). I put the feelers out at work and wider networks and was amazed that within a couple of days people had come forward to take up the offer. This then marked the beginning of the next element to stretch my already stretched comfort zone, namely, ‘contracting’. Contracting is a bit like giving informed consent for a medical procedure in that it describes the risks, benefits and boundaries of coaching and although I do this routinely at work, it felt very strange applying it to a new venture. In the end the anticipation was much worse than the process.

May 2018 marked the beginning of my first three actual coaching sessions and to say I was nervous is an understatement. My daughter was in full GCSE revising and exam mode at the time, and I think I was definitely the worse of the two of us. Although I had put a lot of thought and preparation into the structure of the sessions and making sure that I made my coachee’s feel comfortable and secure, I felt a bit like a swan, trying to look dignified and serene on the surface but kicking my feet frantically under the water! I learnt lots from each of the three sessions about myself, my coachee and the process itself and felt a bit like Luke Skywalker in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ with the need for me to trust the ‘Force’ or in my case, the preparation I’d done. Needless to say, the sessions were not as bad as I had imagined they might be, and all of my coachee’s have agreed a time and date for the next session. More observations to follow!

Studying for the Oxford Coach Mentoring school (OCM) Diploma in professional coaching and mentoring

Dr Sanjay Agrawal

  • Consultant in respiratory and critical care medicine at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust
  • Chair of the Royal Collage of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group
  • Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) Trustee

 

Leadership development comes in many different forms, but it should always be seen as a practical endeavour.

A new programme developed by the Faculty of Leadership & Management (FMLM) team alongside the Royal College of Surgeons promises to be really interesting and crucially, focused on putting learning into action.

It is designed for new consultants (within five years of appointment) and exceptional senior trainees who hold the ambition to undertake significant leadership roles alongside their clinical practice.

You need to get your MD and CEO to support your application and you need to think about what leadership challenge you are or will soon be working on – so you can apply the programme learning back in your day job.

Application Deadline: 16 October 2017

First session: 21 November 2017

Medical leadership must move from an ‘amateur sport’ to a professional discipline.”Professor Peter Lees

Successful completion of the programme could lead to gaining Associate Fellowship of FMLM.

Click HERE to read all about the programme and apply.

 

This workshop is for individuals from organisations who are implementing a new mentoring scheme and want to share their experiences and learn good practice.

Hosted by the Academy of Medical Sciences, I will be facilitating the half day workshop which will provide a space to discuss themes around designing and administering an effective mentoring scheme, with presentations from the Academy, as well as other institutions, on their own experiences and will provide attendees with the skills and information necessary to launch and/or manage their own mentoring scheme.

12.30 to 17.00 – 27th September 2017

This will be an interactive day with plenty of opportunity to reflect and discuss how you move forward with your scheme.

To book a place CLICK HERE.

 

We know that face to face coaching is best, but busy lives and hectic schedules can mean it’s tricky making time to meet.

Distance coaching

What is distance coaching?

By Distance Coaching (sometimes known as e-coaching) we mean that it is performed by email, telephone, SKYPE or FaceTime. It can work for many people; if the arrangements are clearly set out between both parties. The groundwork to set it up is worth investing in and should be a collaborative approach by both people.

However, I think it is advisable to meet at least once in person so that you can establish rapport and get to know each other. This allows you to use the distance methods more effectively and with greater confidence.

So, whilst the distance communication methods can be incredibly convenient, there are disadvantages to this method:

  • Email – Cannot pick up on visual clues and inferences that might be useful.
  • SKYPE/FaceTime – Internet/connection issues can interfere with the call.
  • Telephone – Privacy of the call, no visual clues and interruptions can cause difficulties.

However, the benefits:

  • Email – Doesn’t need to be carried out in real time and can give both parties time to reflect. Useful for quick updates.
  • SKYPE/FaceTime – Free to use, no travel and has many of the benefits of face to face meetings.
  • Telephone – Has an ‘intimate’ quality to the conversation that many value and it is, with practice, possible to pick up on non-vernal clues.

What will work for you?

It is worth considering the geography and ease of travel between you and coach. Many people find the travel time to and from sessions useful for gathering their thoughts, but equally if the distance and time needed to attend is significant, it will be a barrier to meeting.

Think about your schedule and access to communication options. If you have an office that is private and with decent internet, then Skype/FaceTime maybe a great way to virtually meet.

Perhaps the nature of the coaching is more suited to phone calls due to time availability and the content for discussion. Email could work in this way also, especially if you are sharing practical information and updating on progress.

Who likes distance coaching?

  • People with limited time to travel and very tight schedules
  • People who have a very specific goal that is time bound (e.g. job interview)
  • People who prefer the intimacy/privacy of communicating from their home
  • People who like the efficiency and accessibility of a distance arrangement

Good Practice

You should apply good practice to these distance sessions – as you would for a face to face session.

That is:

  • Prepare for and think about what will be discussed.
  • Make sure the space you have is undisturbed and free of distractions.
  • Stay focussed and attentive to conversation.
  • Agree on actions to be taken forward.
  • Reflect on the learning gained.

Final thoughts

A lack of face to face contact can mean that it is difficult or takes longer to build rapport. This is a crucial part of managing the relationship between a coach and coachee, so make sure you do meet at least once, if possible.

Distractions and interruptions are harder to manage remotely, so will require you to be disciplined about your immediate environment – for the benefit of you both.

Once you have established the best method for both parties and you have agreed the practicalities of how it will work, it can be a brilliant way of coaching without the need to meet face to face.

The quality of your attention determines the quality of other people’s thinking.” 

Nancy Kline

I think his can be done at a distance.

If you would like to talk to me about coaching at a distance call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at alexis@alexishutson.com 

As a coach I encourage those I work with to put their learning into action.

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 10.33.44

But I know this is not easy and requires ongoing support and input to encourage actively learning from experiences – through the day job. I also know that when I’m facilitating courses and programmes to groups, people really value and enjoy engaging with and learning from fellow clinicians.

Thats why I helped design and am looking forward to delivering Action Learning Sets (ALS) for Doctors organised by the FMLM*.

The idea

You benefit from a learning programme designed with medical leadership development at its heart, with the advantage of professional facilitation by experienced coaches and the value of learning with a liked-minded group of doctors who you can build a network with.

The programme

With the Action Learning Set programme, not only will you learn and develop those essential leadership and management skills as needed by today’s clinicians but you will also develop an exciting new way of learning through Action Learning Set facilitation and learn just how you could use this approach on your own clinical and leadership journey.
The four sessions will cover:
  • Individual development and how to better understand yourself
  • Developing team working and managing change.
  • Organisational working, exploring you as an individual and as a team member in the overall context of the system.
  • Using the skills you have learnt from previous sets to self-facilitate and explore opportunities beyond the ALS programme.

The programme is for doctors who are either in or moving to a leadership and management role and will be delivered via four half-day sessions between September and December 2017, one set in London, one set in Birmingham.

Dates for the Birmingham set: Wednesday 20 September, Wedensday 18 October, Wednesday 15 November and Wednesday 13 December. This will be run by myself and colleague Liz McCaw.

Dates for the London set: Thursday 14 September, Thursday 12 October, Thursday 9 November and Thursday 7 December. This will be run by John Aspden and colleague Liz McCaw.

Cost: £750 for the whole programme (thats £187.50 for each half day!)

*Faculty of Medical Leadership & Management

Leadership is not a theoretical exercise, but a practical endeavour.”

Click HERE to register with the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management for a Action Learning Set.

I regularly run training sessions for mentors and mentees to help them make the most of this powerful developmental opportunity.

 

Last November I ran a webinar for the Academy of Medical Sciences and you can see the full session through this link – 1 hour webinar.

Link to You Tube of Webinar

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 13.00.51

Other organisations I am currently working with to support mentoring schemes include:

  • Nottingham University Medical School
  • The Royal College of Radiologists
  • The Faculty of Medical Leadership & Management
  • African Mental Health Research Initiative – Kings College London
  • British Society of Immunology

And if you would like to watch a second webinar which goes into a bit more detail you can view it HERE

If you would like to talk to me about your mentoring scheme, call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at alexis@alexishutson.com. 

If that is what I can achieve in five minutes, imagine what I can do in an hour.”

Above quote – participant of my recent workshop ‘Leadership and being a role model: decision making and taking responsibility’ for the FMLM.

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 12.53.09If you have attended one of my workshops, you will be aware that I almost always use Nancy Kline‘s ‘Thinking Partnerships’ model in workshops. This technique gives people the opportunity to receive and give uninterrupted thinking time, a rarity.

These workshop moments (usually 5minutes) are welcomed, although the technique can take some getting used to. It is probably because our access to time to think is rapidly shrinking, partly because of the increased demands and expectations placed on us, but partly because technology has exposed us to being constantly connected so we don’t switch off, literally. I see this as a problem, not only for us in general, but in particular for our leadership practice.

The pace of work and pressures placed on people force us to do more, work harder and cram in extra hours. We actually don’t have time to think and whilst we can achieve a lot of activity, is it productive and sustainable? Only through stopping, reflecting and gaining perspective can we establish if we are being productive and supporting those around us. Reflection and gaining perspective are crucial to leadership practice – as one of my recent Doctors who completed a coaching programme with me highlighted. He is an incredibly busy man balancing his clinical commitments against his leadership priorities and a couple of his learning points were:

  1. Improved approach to prioritising what is important and what isn’t.
  2. Understanding that Leadership is often more about influencing others rather than telling them what to do.

He couldn’t have worked on these (and other areas) without time to think and his pre-coaching and post-coaching questionnaire highlighted his progress. Despite an incredibly turbulent year, he feels more resilient than a year ago because he has had time to think things through.

We need to get back into the habit of thinking well for ourselves.

A decent way to invest in your leadership practice would be to attend the Leaders in Healthcare conference 31.10.16 to 2.11.16 Liverpool.

I and other FMLM Coaches will be there and are running an exciting session on day one called ‘Coaching for leaders: A worthwhile investment?’ This will be highly interactive and you will have the chance to access learning through 8 executive coaches on a range of subjects.

I’ll be there on my table titled Time Management.

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 11.06.43

If you would like time to think about your leadership development, call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at alexishutson@yahoo.com

Feedback on leadership and management skills is always valuable.

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 12.50.06

One of the most powerful ways to assess your performance and development needs is to gain meaningful feedback from those with whom you work. This is particularly true for developing your leadership skills as these are often more complex to observe or measure, so gathering as much data as you can is important. And aligning this to decent leadership standards makes the process especially productive and relevant to medical leadership and management performance areas.

This can be useful when you are applying for a new job or role, planning your appraisal, CPD or considering a career change or transition.

I’ve started to recommend and use the recently launched FMLM 360 tool as this follows the FMLM Leadership Standards that have been specifically designed for medical leaders. These standards roughly fall into the three leadership areas of Self, Team Player/Leader and Organisational Responsibility and System Leadership. Also, the 360 tool allows you to register as – a team member, team leader, operational leader and strategic leader meaning that you can assess your leadership development at any stage in your medical career. Find out more about about FMLM 360 HERE (£72.00 including VAT).

The trick with feedback though is to turn the potential learning into action. I think reflection on the nature of the feedback, understanding the different perceptions, considering the themes that occur are important, but doing something about this is key. I often use the following questions when I receive feedback or when I’m supporting others to action plan on the back of 360 reports:

1. What is valuable to me and how can it make me more effective?

2. What are the benefits to me and those I work with?

3. What can I practically do to enact this learning?

4. Who can I share this with in order to help me or hold me to account?

Of course there may be feedback in the 360 report that you don’t agree with or may feel unfair. You may be right, but it is important to still reflect on the context, why someone may have viewed you or the situation in this way and what you can extract that is still of value to you.

If you would like to talk over your 360 report call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at alexishutson@yahoo.com. 

We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve. Bill Gates

Leadership development is personal.

Learn

Historically we have assumed that Doctors were natural leaders and these non clinical skills were taken for granted. There is still very little leadership development embedded in medical education, although things are improving. So if you want to think strategically about your leadership skills what do you do? The following blog offers a way to reflect on your leadership growth.

My personal opinion based on working with many doctors over the years is that how you grow as a leader depends on who you are, what you have experienced and what your context for leadership is currently. That is why leadership programmes almost always use one to one coaching in their learning programme so that individuals can personalise and put the learning into practice.

Also, I believe leadership is about influence rather than control. You may be able to weld control over people if you are more senior, but its doesn’t mean you are leading them. People decide based on your behaviour as to whether they are willing to be led by you and consequently give you that extra effort.

So leadership is personal. It’s about you and your behaviour and you can lead from any position or situation. This is why leadership is relevant to you at any stage of your career, regardless of seniority and will continue to be a learning curve.

IMG_4712

However, there are so many leadership programmes and books out there, it is hard not to be phased by the size of the subject. But whilst theories about leadership abound, leadership is a practical endeavour.

A good place to start is to assess and reflect on what your current leadership challenge is and how you are doing.

 

Consider these questions.

  1. What do you want to achieve in leadership?
  2. Where are you now with this goal?
  3. What are your options?
  4. How committed are you to this plan and what are you going to do?

This may help you identify what kind of leadership development you need and how this relates directly to your circumstances. This development may come in the form of a book, course, buddying up with a colleague, mentorship or coaching, or taking on a new project/role.

But also ask yourself:

  1. What qualities and attributes do I possess that are important in leadership?
  2. What experiences have I had that are relevant?
  3. What is my current context and what opportunities do I have to have a positive influence?

This should help you consider your next move.

IMG_4711

If you would like to talk over your leadership development, call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at alexishutson@yahoo.com

Note: I would recommend you taking a look at the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management (FMLM) website for some excellent resources and courses.