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.
I have spent most of my time this year giving Doctors time to think.
I have done this through one to one personal development coaching, and working with groups of people in workshops and facilitating training. I have really enjoyed it and it has been my busiest year yet.
What seems to characterise my work with people is providing the time, space and structure to think through challenges, ideas, and opportunities in an environment that is free from the pressure and restrictions of our normal working day. Supporting people to have a more transformationalrather than transactional approach to problem-solving or decision-making is truly rewarding.
So here are some of the headlines that I think sum up 2016:
Doctors really value being listened to and having the space the think things through.
Doctors can make rapid progress towards realising their objectives if given this space.
Doctors are resilient people but they need to invest in themselves more.
Doctors are thinking about their careers more proactively and with greater ambition.
Doctors are increasingly interested in coaching/mentoring both for themselves and for supporting others.
Doctors can access coaching/mentoring through a variety of methods or organisations* – more so than ever.
And here are my professional delivery headlines:
I’ve delivered 181hours of one to one coaching in 2016
I’ve delivered 44 workshops / facilitated training sessions in 2016
Favourite quote of the year from a coaching client:
Sleeping better, waking refreshed and ready for work. Have already regained a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm. Thanks for your help.
The end of the year is a natural time to look back, and think about the future. Make sure you make time for yourself and invest in your future.
* Find a coach through the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management HERE. Access a mentor through your NHS Trust or professional body. Ask your Local Medical Committee to see if they have a scheme.
If you would like to talk over your, or your teams development goals for 2017, call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you want to set up or boost an existing mentoring scheme?
Increasingly organisations are setting up mentoring schemes and I’m often asked to support the training of mentors and mentees for them. This is great news, but developing a successful scheme is not straight forward and many have fallen by the wayside through lack of resources or investment; even when a willing cohort of mentees and mentors exists.
The Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS) has a well established scheme that has been running since 2002 and have freely published a wealth of resources on their website to support other’s in setting up a scheme. MORE HERE.
In addition, the AMS are running a good practice and development workshop on 15th September 2016 (13:00 – 17:00). They will showcase their own scheme and have invited other organisations to share their learning and practice. This will include Nottingham University Medical School, Professor Lis Paice and I will be facilitating the afternoon.
Venue: The Academy of Medical Sciences, 41 Portland Place, London W1B 1QH.
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.
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.
What do you want to achieve in leadership?
Where are you now with this goal?
What are your options?
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:
What qualities and attributes do I possess that are important in leadership?
What experiences have I had that are relevant?
What is my current context and what opportunities do I have to have a positive influence?
This should help you consider your next move.
If you would like to talk over your leadership development, call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at email@example.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.
I am working with a number of doctors at the moment who are considering alternative careers or managing careers that don’t follow a traditional path.
Although the education and training pathway for medicine is narrow and long, people don’t necessarily want their whole career to be prescribed or predictable. And what I often find is that people who are considering doing things differently are very anxious about how this may be viewed or valued. The investment both financially and personally in becoming a doctor is significant, so to potentially challenge this position is hard. And of course there is a whole section of the workforce who are now considering leaving medicine altogether due to the unrelenting pressures and personal challenges they are being made to face.
In this blog I’ll address alternative careers (actually stepping away from medicine) and different career paths (doing things differently, but within medicine).
So what could you do? There are lists on the internet that give options and ideas for doctors; what their medical degree and experience might lead to. I’m not sure these are that helpful though. If you are lucky enough to spot the ideal career for you in a list, then great. But if you are uninspired by the choices, you can still feel rudderless and frustrated.
As well as the practical and financial considerations, I think that one of the most important reflections you must consider is what kind of life do you want to lead. Family, health and wellbeing, time to think and create, opportunities for volunteering – and many others. In addition, what kinds of skills do you enjoy using. Not necessarily healthcare delivery, but perhaps people development or writing? What do you really get engrossed in and energised by?
See the link below for the national conference in April on ‘Alternative Career Paths for Doctors’.
Different Career Paths
Just because someone hasn’t done it before, doesn’t mean it is not possible. Everyone’s medical career is different and comparing yourself to others can be very unhelpful. What is also frustrating is that it can appear unclear how people have developed their careers; its often invisible how people have created their working arrangements and interests. But medicine affords people the opportunity to be a part of a clear and defined role, but also the opportunity to specialise and diversify in many different directions. It can take time and exploration to work this out, so be patient. If there is one trait that I see most often with doctors, it is the desire to learn and keep developing so taking risks, keeping your options open and trying out new things is key to capitalising on opportunities.
The most important part of this process is to approach it from the right direction. That is, don’t consider stepping away from medicine, focus on what you want to step towards, and perhaps medicine might play a role in that. As some educationalists are now approaching young people differently with ‘don’t ask a student what they want to be when they grow up – ask them what problem they want to solve’, then perhaps we should apply the same to ourselves.
Useful Links and resources
There are more, but here is a selection for you to access:
Spotting when you might be getting stale and how to freshen up.
Renewal is an important part of personal development and it seems to be a theme for many of the people I work with. There is the very real potential to get slightly bored with doing the same things, or run out of ideas at any stage of your medical career, despite how busy you are. Obviously there are huge challenges at a day to day level for doctors currently, but it is important to recognise when you need a refresh in order to avoid starting to burn out.
Some of the signs that people describe having are; low energy, lack of interest and a feeling that they are not fulfilled. Left un-checked this can descend into low esteem, poor morale and unhappy working relationships.
This is difficult because Doctors are expected to manage their own careers and develop the non-clinical interests and ideas away from their clinical base; whether it be education, management, research or organisational development. But there is no clear pathway or training and development to access. On the flip side, as doctors you do have relative autonomy to explore options, as long as you priortise yourself.
In order to access the right opportunities or spot the potential in new areas, you need to know what matters to you and what is of interest.
Take time out to establish:
Your personal values
How you like to learn
What you have learnt about yourself and your work
What skills you have gained
What you would like to get better at or improve
What you would like to be a part of
Clarifying for yourself the above will help you identify what you are and are not interested in, and how you would like to make a change.
So, here are some of the things that people I know have undertaken in order to refresh:
Start a new activity (teaching/research)
Get involved in policy or strategy development
Take on role in professional society or college
Investigate roles in medical education (post and undergraduate)
Get involved in mentoring or appraisal
Join a ethics committee or NICE
Become the lead for a local service
Get involved with your Local Medical Committee or CCG
Join your Clinical Senate
Take on a quality improvement task/role or pathway redesign
Write articles / newsletters or a blog
Use social media to connect with people who have similar interests as you
Every single cell in the human body replaces itself over a period of seven years. That means there’s not even the smallest part of you now that was part of you seven years ago.” Steven Hall
If you would like to talk over your development call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at
Doctors are increasingly being asked to get involved in mentoring both formally and informally. But why do it?
I think Doctors like supporting other doctors. They like to pass on their experiences and help others to avoid mistakes and difficult situations they’ve encountered. The medical profession is a long career and there is a lot to learn, so the chance aid others is a powerful driver for most Doctors.
So what is it and why might Doctors be really good at it?
“Mentoring is a distinct relationship where one person (the mentor) supports the learning, development and progress of another person (the mentee).” Julie Starr.*
Mentoring (and coaching) is different from training because it aims to ‘draw out’ learning rather than push in information. It aims at reflection and experimentation that leads to individual development, rather than at direct influence that leads to presupposed outputs.
Why could Doctors be good at it?
Doctors are used to listening to people’s concerns and anxieties confidentially
Doctors have a caring and empathic approach to other people
Doctors are used to remaining objective and impartial
Doctors are used to spotting patterns and making connections in problems
What can hinder Doctors being great mentors?
Doctors are used to listening for clues that can help diagnosis – mentoring conversations require you to listen with an open mind and follow the mentee’s train of thought within a supportive structure
Doctors are used to being in pressurised conversations where time is limited – mentoring needs to be free from rush and should give people time to think freely.
Doctors are used to directing junior colleagues – mentoring is not about solving the other person’s problems, but rather enabling the mentee to explore their own solutions.
If you have access to a mentoring scheme through your College, Training Programme, Hospital or other organisation, get involved.
*Julie Starr has recently published The Mentoring Manual and references Gandalf/Bilbo, Dumbledore/Harry, Yoda/Luke and other famous great mentoring partnerships.
If you would like to talk over mentoring call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at
How can Doctors improve their interview performance?
I’ve been pretty busy recently, some of which has been supporting doctors through interview processes for jobs. This has included people applying for training grade and consultant posts.
I thought it would be useful to note down some useful steps in managing the process, and anxiety.
My four stage process:
Be clear about your purpose for applying for this post. That might appear to be obvious for those of you in training grades, but it’s always useful to reflect and consider the speed of your journey and the variety of experiences it offers you. The drive to get to the next stage is strong, but the end goal is not your only consideration. If you are beyond training, then make sure your purpose for looking elsewhere is clear. You might too easily focus on ‘moving away’ from an undesirable situation, but it is equally important to ‘move towards’ something that is right for you and your circumstances.
Tip – do not underestimate the emotions this can generate.
Plot what you need to do and by when in order to be ready. Again, this may appear obvious but focusing too heavily on ‘the big day’ is a common mistake. Get the planning and organisation right and the actual interview itself is far less of a trial. Break down the known interview areas and plan out what your experience and knowledge is on this subject. Think about the meaningful examples you can talk about (animatedly) that are authentic and credible.
Tip – create a practical plan that you can work on steadily, within the timeframe.
Practicing your answers and talking through your ideas is crucial to making sure you produce a polished performance on the day. Doing this with friends or colleagues is good, but alone can also work. Hearing yourself articulate your responses is a great way to make sure that you are being succinct and specific. If you are required to do a presentation, practice it. Dress rehearsals help expose gremlins and it’s better to uncover these whilst practicing.
Tip – Don’t leave this till the last minute, have several goes at it.
Make sure you are in the right frame of mind on the day. This really matters but will be helped considerably by the previous stages. If you have got 1, 2 and 3 right then you should be feeling pretty good at this point. However, make sure that you are ready to display the very best version of you. Make a note of how you present yourself at your best. What does it look like and how does it feel?
Tip – Consider what impression you want to leave and how you will achieve that.
If you would like to talk over Coaching for interviews call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
What to expect in your first year; managing your transition from training grade to GP or Consultant.
“When I stepped through that CCT curtain, I expected so much. I’d worked so hard, for so long. I never expected my first year to be the start of another learning curve!” Secondary Care Consultant.
But it is. Your speciality training provides you with a structured pathway with identifiable goals and targets to meet, a supervisor as guide and mentor, and safety net for your clinical decisions. When you move away from that long-term structure, it is not replaced by anything equivalent. Its up to you and the team/department you are now working with.
And the surprising thing for many new consultants and GPs is that it’s the human element that is the biggest challenge. That is; negotiating your new role, a position within a team/hierarchy, developing allies, navigating the group dynamics and politics are all amplified when in it ‘permanently’.
So your performance and your sense of professional value is now associated with who you are and how you fit in, not just what you can do clinically.
Working with newly qualified GPs and Secondary Care doctors has given me a clear insight into what these first year challenges are, so I’ve designed a morning of practical tips and insights to help people anticipate and plan for this big change.
Designed specifically for those in their last 1-2yrs of training, those in their first 1-2yrs beyond CCT and for both primary and secondary care Doctors.
One year ago today, I started this blog about coaching doctors.
It’s been a great year and I’ve enjoyed working with all my clients. They have included people planning for their first Consultant post, women GPs managing part-time work & families and senior secondary care Consultants taking on new projects. Many clients have wanted to get better at managing time, projects and conflict, and just about everyone has had insights into how they could do things differently to get better outcomes. Whilst every one of my clients is different, I thought I would share with you my top five observations from the last 12months of coaching doctors.
1. Doctors need to be encouraged to prioritise themselves more.
2. Doctors value having time to think, reflect and consider their development needs with someone ‘independant’.
3. Doctors’ personal lives benefit when they improve their professional performance.
4. Doctors like understanding their strengths & weaknesses and developing them.
5. Doctors learn fast and make quick progress.
What do you think? Post your thoughts below.
Call 0754 0593476 or email me on email@example.com.