Why is leadership in a non-clinical setting often hard to establish and maintain?

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I’ve been running a few leadership sessions over the summer and it’s also a regular issue that comes up for individual coaching clients.

You may be a divisional director, leading a research team, be a senior partner, managing an educational programme or part of a national project.

Whatever the context, I hear the same difficulties regularly:

  • How can I engage others more effectively?
  • Why don’t people do what they say they will do?
  • How come everyone has a slightly different view of our goal?
  • Why isn’t this more straightforward?

Leading in a clinical setting can be less complicated. The lines of accountability are often clearer and as a Doctor, you are often the final decision-maker. But outside of this setting, it can get foggy.

So what can you do?

If we remember that leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal, then we are reminded that leadership itself is mostly about managing relationships. And in order to do this well, you have to manage yourself first.

So any decent leadership programme requires self-development and reflection on your personal preferences. This is important because a crucial part of leadership is managing the balance of Context v Personal Preference.

For example:

  • The context may be nebulous and ever-changing, but your preference is to get things decided and actioned quickly?
  • Your preference is to consider the impact in the long-term, but the context is to get value for money immediately?

Here are a few points to remember when you get bogged down in the nitty-gritty of messy leadership:

  • Remember that your personality preferences will affect the culture of the team – are these enablers or blockers to the context?
  • Remember that you can’t just focus on the task of the team – the individuals and whole group need leading too.
  • Remember that your clinical leadership skills are transferable – just make sure you reflect and review on how you use them.

 

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

 

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When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier. Roy E. Disney

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 08.08.09I’ve been writing these blogs for two years now. Looking back over the subjects I’ve covered, it strikes me that I’ve never written about personal values. Time to put this right. It is important because if you can identify what really matters to you, and how you want to lead your life, then it makes the choices and uncertainty that you will inevitably face, easier. Most of us assume we know roughly what our values are, but rarely do we actually think it through and identify why those values are vital for us.

When I do this with Doctors I use multiple values that are written onto cards and ask the them to gradually edit down to around five cards. The process of doing this means that the person is reflecting and internally discussing what those words mean for them and why they are important. Of course we will all have different interpretations of these words. One person’s ‘Happiness’ could be another person’s ‘Health’. But what matters is that that person knows what it means for them.

It can sometimes be quite an emotional experience for people because if identified correctly, these words hold great personal power. Like a compass, they help guide and ground you at times of uncertainty, but they can also help you overcome anxieties or fears that are unhelpful. For example, I’m scared of flying, but one of my core values is ‘Courage’. It is this value that gets me on the plane because it is more important to me to live by this, than to succumb to my fear.

Values influence every aspect of our lives: our moral judgments, our responses to others, our commitments to personal and organizational goals. Values set the parameters for the hundreds of decisions we make every day. Jim Kouzes & Barry Posner

Sometimes this process highlights for people that they are not living by some of their core values, or that some values contradict each other. This insight into our personal drivers can help us identify why we are unhappy or uncomfortable with decisions or situations. It’s worth thinking about.

Tips for identifying your values:

  • 1. Find as many value words as you can and write them down individually on post it notes or scraps of paper.
  • 2. Gradually edit them down so you are left with 5-6.
  • 3. Talk them through with a friend who can test and challenge what those words mean to you.
  • 4. Test them out when faced with a decision and see how the values play a role in your processing.

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

 

 

 

‘Know thyself’ is as relevant now, as it was in ancient Greece.

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I recently ran a session for the Leicester Faculty of the RCGP for their First5 group. It was an evening session on a very cold and windy March night, but we had a full house. I used the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) to give attendees insight into their personal preferences about how they naturally interact with the world, plan and organise their lives, make decisions and cope with change. Whilst we had a lot of fun, it was really interesting to see how individuals came to terms with some pretty intrinsic truths about themselves and how these might affect their transition from training programme to independent practice.

When I attended the session I did not really know what to expect- but afterward I feel like I have got to know myself so much better…In the busy world that is general practice and with the increasing pressure it was a breath of fresh air to be able to take a step back and assess my personality not only professionally but also personally. I feel that I have the tools to deal with future tensions better and also to be able to recognise when that is also not the case.” GP Attendee.
Knowing thyself and managing yourself are so important in the challenging and pressurised environments Doctors function in. Taking time to read your emotions and review the affect you have on others is vital for your development, as well as fundamental to your leadership and management effectiveness.
But it’s not easy. Doing things that come naturally or are habit can be straightforward to you. But doing things that you find difficult or are outside of your comfort zone are a different matter. And when you have to do something like this then your internal battle is tough. Knowing yourself and finding ways to out manoeuvre the urge to avoid things that you have to do, is a powerful self management tool.

Building Self Awareness

You can access a whole host of tools that can help you to build self awareness such as MBTI, Emotional Intelligence, Hogan etc and these are very useful. However I think it’s your inner voice and the relationship you have with yourself that is the greatest indicator of affective self awareness. I’m re-reading Dr Steve Peter’s (Psychiatrist) The Chimp Paradox at the moment. It’s really helping me train for the 10k I’m doing in July as my urge to not run is strong! But the book is supporting me to develop a more honest and realistic relationship with myself about running. See more about The Chimp Paradox HERE. We can be thankful that for most of us our brain is developable at any stage of our lives, so we can keep learning about ourselves.

If you would like to talk over Coaching to build self awareness call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at alexishutson@yahoo.com

NB, Dr Steve Peters is now working with the England football squad, so that should test the model…

Why are ineffectual teams so common?

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I hear clients talk about their poorly performing teams and the stress this causes frequently. People assume that as adults, teamwork should come naturally, especially in the health service where everyone has the same goal. However, finding a role in your team, contributing positively and leading democratically do not come easily. More typically, the group dynamics are poor, there is conflict around decision-making, low levels of trust or the leadership is weak. This affects everything and it’s really difficult to move the team to a better position.

It can be more straightforward in clinical teams where there is a hierarchy and focus that enable people to understand the shared purpose. However put Doctors into managerial teams, research teams, projects teams, educational teams, peers groups etc, then the dynamics can be very different, much harder to navigate and can be constantly shifting.

I think the reason that ineffectual teams are so common is because people assume teams can take care of themselves or it’s someone else’s responsibility. They can’t and it isn’t. It takes planning and action by all to make them work well.  Here are some tips to think about if you are considering starting a new team or reflecting on a poorly functioning team.

Starting a new team:

  1. Be clear about the purpose of the team and what its’ objectives are.
  2. Be clear about the roles that you expect people to play in the team.
  3. Be clear about your shared values for being a part of this team.
  4. Be clear about how you will work, meet and get things done.

Remember, managing peoples’ expectations is crucial to getting off on the right foot. This is all common sense, but don’t take it for granted. Make sure you don’t make assumptions about other peoples’ motivations or willingness to contribute. Remember that all groups typically will travel through Tuckman’s stages of:

Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing

Developing an existing team:

  1. Draw a map of the team to get a birds-eye view of all the members and their positions. What does this tell you?
  2. In order to build trust, practice empathising with other members and get to know them a bit better.
  3. Accept that conflict is a part of any team and develop a strategy to manage the conflict safely.
  4. Acknowledge that everyone has an equal role to play and should be heard.

Remember, poorly functioning teams are usually driven by negative behaviour and behaviour is driven by feelings. Observe what emotions appear to be present, and why. Consider your own feelings and perhaps talk to other members about theirs. If you are able to pinpoint what emotions are contaminating your team, you stand a better chance of identifying the problem and doing something about it.

It’s uncomfortable to face these challenges, especially if no one else seems to want to take it on. But if you really want to be part of a better team, then someone has to make a start.

Team building does not happen on away days, it happens every day at work.

 

You may find a recent article in ‘Advances in psychiatric treatment’ – Teamwork: the art of being a leader and team player useful.

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

Are women doctors as confident about their abilities as their male colleagues?

I was asked to run a session on Coaching & Mentoring at a conference yesterday. ‘Inspiring Women Doctors in Training’ had an emphasis on leadership and the keynote speakers all addressed why so many women doctors still don’t get to the top of the leadership ladder.

One theme that came out was individual’s ‘mind-set’. Whilst accepting that there will be many exceptions to the rule, all speakers spoke about an underlying lack of self-belief in many women doctors, an unwillingness to promote their achievements and a reluctance to seize opportunities.

So I wanted to share some research on Emotional Intelligence that was undertaken in 2011.

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is about intelligent use of our emotions. This requires being aware of our feelings and the feelings of others in order to manage our behaviour and relationships effectively. Underpinning all aspects of EI is our core attitude towards ourselves (Self-Regard) and others (Regard for Others).”Jo Maddocks, Occupational Psychologist with JCA.

JCA have been administering EI tests for over 12 years. They now hold data on over 12,500 people, across many professional sectors and covering 7 continents. What I found interesting about their findings is that there are a significant proportion of people in the healthcare sector who score low in Self Regard. In addition, women typically score low in Self Regard. This double-whammy means that women healthcare workers (including doctors) may be less likely to; rate their achievements, feel confident about putting themselves forward and feel empowered to do things differently.

Being a Doctor is a leadership role in its own right of course. Making decisions, taking action and leading others is a daily part of working life. But when thinking about the possibilities of further leadership in education, management, research, service development or commissioning, do women doctors believe “I could do that”? Or is there a saboteur in their heads saying, “I’m not good enough.”

To see the full JCA paper Click Here

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