If you are a doctor with a leadership or management responsibility, then the chances are, you have two jobs.

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 13.36.49

I’ve just come back from the annual Faculty of Medical Leadership & Management (FMLM) conference where I was exhibiting and speaking. The conference is aimed at clinicians who have an interest in developing leadership and management skills for themselves, or others. I really enjoyed my time there and met a lot of really interesting and thoughtful people. I really admire those of you who take up the challenge of a leadership role. You don’t have to do it and you don’t really get any thanks or reward for it.

And the reality is, that if you don’t give up your medical role, you have to the juggle the demands of your leadership challenges with your clinical priorities. Doctor and coach Richard Winters writes this month, this can come in four different challenges:

  1. Overwhelmed by organisational noise – urgent priorities means a reactive and fire-fighting approach
  2. Feeling stuck as an outsider – not belonging to either tribe
  3. Feeling stuck in transition – not knowing how your leadership skills are developing
  4. Feeling trapped in a time warp – organisational change and projects can take a long time

Department chairs, managing partners, medical directors, chiefs of staff—they’re all frustrated. As a practicing physician with experience in several leadership roles, I know how they feel: They don’t recall saying to their childhood friends, “I want to be Vice President of Medical Affairs when I grow up.”

Richard Winters MD. See Richard’s blog ‘Coaching doctors to become leaders’ HERE

I think those people who are prepared to stick their neck out and have a go at these roles deserve to have proper support and development. Coaching and mentoring are an effective way to develop the skills and approaches you will need. Because it is tailor made for you, your strengths and weaknesses and the environment you work in, it can accelerate your leadership development significantly. As one client said to me recently, “I probably would have got there eventually, but this coaching has sped up my learning by 1-2 years.” (Consultant).

Call 0754 0593476 or email me on alexishutson@yahoo.com and talk to me about your leadership role.

Three NEW coaching programmes

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 12.21.09There are 3 common themes that many of my clients, Doctors, wish to focus on. Whilst the individual contexts are always different, I’ve decided to launch this brand new set of 3 coaching programmes that have been designed for people who want to target their learning on one of these subjects:

1. Managing Conflict      2. Managing Time      3. Effective Communications

A coaching programme on one of these themes will give you the opportunity to review, assess and improve your competency in these areas. Together we will identify your goal, assess your preferences and working styles, and use your professional situation to design new tactics and test them out.

Each Programme includes:

  • 1 x test and feedback session (e.g. TKI, MBTI or EI)
  • 3 x one-to-one coaching sessions lasting approx 90minutes
  • Post coaching session summary to aid your reflection
  • Programme learning resources

Each programme costs £350. To find out more about each programme, download the NEW programmes 2013 brochure here.

Call 0754 0593476 or email me on alexishutson@yahoo.com and book your FREE initial consultation.

Handling conflict is a part of everyone’s working life, so what can Doctors do to manage it better?

A recent article in the press caught my attention. ‘Top doctors sent home for fighting: Hospital Consultant looses tooth after he and colleague squared up outside operating theatre.’ Article here. 

Unfortunately the culture for hospital Doctors, between colleagues or specialities, can often be combative. Over reliance on command & control and territorial behaviours means that conflict working styles that are productive are not displayed enough. It leaves people feeling stressed and anxious about how they manage their working relationships.

Of course there is nothing wrong with conflict in itself. Differences between people and teams are normal. It’s how we handle it that counts. The model I use to help my clients get a better handle on conflict is the TKI™ (Thomas-Kilmann conflict mode Instrument). This model describes 5 different conflict positions that all serve a purpose in working through differences. They are:

Competing – Collaborating – Compromising – Avoiding – Accommodating

Ideally we need to be skilled at using them all and choose which to use depending on the conflict and our position within it. The question is, which one do you overuse and which don’t you use enough? Are you adapting to each situation and analysing what is needed, or are you getting caught up in the emotion and heat of the moment?

By using a model like TKI™ you can develop a more rational and objective response to conflict which will help you manage these inevitable situations better.

Call 0754 0593476 or email me on alexishutson@yahoo.com to book your online TKI test.


The TKI™ (Thomas-Kilmann conflict mode Instrument) is an easy and accessible tool to help people handle conflict better. By identifying alternative conflict styles, it helps you reframe and defuse conflict, creating more productive results. The TKI questionnaire identifies five distinct conflict styles and provides you with conflict-management solutions. As with MBTI, you fill in a questionnaire and then a feedback session talks you through the report generated. I can administrate this for you. Find out more here.



Doctors and our constantly connected culture.

Doctors and medical professionals have always faced interruptions from beepers and phones, and multitasking is simply a fact of life for many medical jobs. What has changed, doctors say, especially younger ones, is that they face increasing pressure to interact with their devices.” Matt Richtel – New York Times (ref below)

It’s this pressure; the urge to react and respond that interests me. Some of my clients, especially the Secondary Care Consultants, explain that it is a huge driving force in their working lives. It can result in people feeling really quite powerless and can compel them to behave in a very reactionary way.

I have no evidence to discuss whether this affects patient care, but I do know it affects working relationships and task management.

I believe that face-to-face human contact, powered by emotional and intellectual attention is the most important form of communication. (See link to Hallowell’s article below). The trouble is, with our over-reliance on electronic communication we miss key components of effective communication such as body language and empathy. My guess is that when seeing patients, most clinicians are still doing this, but it’s our other working relationships that can be dramatically affected.

And staying focused during tasks is also a challenge now. The ever-distracting ping of another email or text disrupts our attention and pulls us away from what we were doing, thus making the task exponentially longer. Having the discipline to stay focused and resist the urge to react is a crucial habit to re-establish.

Perhaps the answer is choice. What would you prioritise as important enough to interrupt what you are doing now or who you are currently paying attention to?

Contact me on 0754 0593476 or email me on alexishutson@yahoo.com


Recommended links to further reading:

Matt Richtel  – As Doctors Use More Devices, Potential for Distraction Grows – New York Times (2011)

Tony SchwartzThe magic of doing one thing at a time (2012 most read Harvard Business Review blog)

Edward M. Hallowell The human moment at work (1999)

Daniel GolemanAn antidote for workplace ADD (2013)


Delivering the right kind of communication approach to different people or groups

One of the tools I often use with clients is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). More info – Click Here.

It’s a really useful way to identify how individuals differ in the way they prefer to use their minds.

Do doctors communicate differently?

One area the indicator highlights is communication style. It shows whether people prefer to communicate in a systematic and factual way, or, in a way that explores opportunities and patterns. This was investigated in research published in Medical Education in 2004. The researchers argued that medics differed significantly from the general population and that intervention was needed early on in medical careers to support trainees in developing their ability to ‘flex’ towards the communication style of their patients.*

Well, the doctors I work with are well-established and highly competent communicators well used to communication adaption with patients. But what they are able to reflect upon when reviewing their MBTI results is how their communication preferences affect other parts of their professional life. That is, how they communicate with other team members, managers, commissioners and other clinical colleagues.

Crucial communication skills developed in the consultation room are transferable to other professional relationships, and the MBTI (and Emotional Intelligence) tools I use help doctors realise what they have got and how they can broaden their use.

Call 0754 0593476 or email me on alexishutson@yahoo.com to book your online MBTI test.


*An awful lot of work has gone into the communication development of medical trainees in recent years. For interest, the paper also shows the preferences of male and female doctors. Click Here to visit link.

The idea of coaching for Doctors can seem a bit strange. They are highly educated and well trained over many years; surely they are finished with learning? The trouble is, at some point in a medics’ career (often when first joining a GP practice as a partner or getting that first consultant post in a hospital) they might begin to realise that their professional performance goes way beyond being a great clinician.

During UK speciality training Doctors do have the chance to learn and develop their non-clinical skills in team-working, communication and leading others for example. But evolving skills and learning from experience whilst on the job as a senior clinician is different. Cast off from training programmes I think sometimes Doctors can feel adrift when the realities of leadership styles, group dynamics and internal politics start to play a bigger role in their working life.

What I seem to be working with currently with Doctors is supporting them to develop personal style, qualities, attributes and skills as a leader and manager once past CCT. It works, and adds value, as  one of my medics said to me last week –

 I was a bit cynical at first thinking, what could she teach me? I now realise it is a lot.

GP East Midlands

I often have Doctors say “It’s nice to talk about myself”. I see that as a healthy and productive use of time.

What can be really difficult about this though, is not the desire, but making the time.

Making time for coaching can seem like a huge and daunting commitment. It can also feel self- indulgent and a bit of a luxury which can be challenging for people that have been trained and educated to put others first.

What I see happening when working with Doctors is the realisation that by investing in yourself, you can reinvest back into the healthcare environment. Rather than being a victim of the system, swept along by the current and overwhelming volume of work, people can become more a-tunned to how they can cope with improved resilience and a greater sense of control.

The quote below struck me when I read it recently. All the Doctors I coach have goals and aspirations associated with the non-clinical parts of their work. They typically want to focus on task/time management, leading a new project, developing their skills with colleagues/group dynamics and improving their personal performance. Talking with friends, colleagues and family members can help. But only with a skilled coach can you really focus your thinking, outcomes and plan a course of action.

Studies comparing superb leaders with mediocre ones have found that the competences that distinguish the best from the worst in human services have little or nothing to do with medical knowledge or technical skill, and everything to do with social and emotional intelligence. Of course medical knowledge matters for health care leaders – but it’s a given, a threshold competence that every health professional must have. What distinguishes leaders in medicine gets far beyond that knowledge, into interpersonal skills like empathy, conflict resolution and people development.”

Daniel Goleman – Social Intelligence, 2007.

Call me on 0754 0593476

Email me on alexishutson@yahoo.com

Quick download of brochure