WHY Fronts: 12 Steps to Leadership

Published: 17 February 2020 Ezine

Why do you think you should read about leadership? Mainly because I think any of you can lead; either small projects, or teams, or large projects and teams. As more and more services are looking at becoming accredited to the QS, some understanding of leadership skills will be useful for you all.

After reading an article on the Girl Guiding website, which was updated in February 20191, I was intrigued to see that leadership doesn’t change no matter who you are leading.
I have amended the points in the article slightly to fit imaging, but I was impressed and I thought you might like a look too.

Believe in yourself: you are awesome. By staying positive, trusting yourself and not being afraid to ask for help, you can set a great example. Keep in mind that it’s OK to fail – it’s part of learning. Why not encourage others to acknowledge when they’ve tried and fallen short and get together to find some learning outcomes? Remember, we learn more through failure than we do through success.

Embrace opportunity: good leaders make an effort to constantly brush up on their abilities. Why not see what leadership training is available; the NHS Leadership Academy has courses which may help develop your skills and the SCoR has its own Training for Future Leaders. Why not use the QSI to look at what is expected from a leader & ask at your next appraisal for some development?

Be open to everyone: an effective leader brings people together, regardless of their background or training e.g. in meetings use inclusive language and not ‘jingoisms’ or ‘medical terminology’. Being inclusive is a good retention strategy for your team.

Work together:being a great leader isn’t about taking on everything yourself – which is a relief! Knowing when to delegate a job is a valuable skill. For example, you could ask your team to help you identify each other’s strengths and decide who is best suited to a task. By tackling things together, our lives can feel easier and more fulfilled.

Aim for the sky: young or old, there really is no age limit on learning. Want to improve on safeguarding or quality? Why not ask who would like to expand their horizons; you never know where it will lead. Lifelong learning can be a lifelong pleasure, not a chore!

Support each other: leading from behind the scenes, providing support and reassurance.Try to listen carefully and respectfully, give constructive feedback, facilitate rather than direct, and provide pep talks when needed. Enabling others to take on responsibility is an important part of being a great leader. You could consider becoming a mentor or a trainer. 

Be inspired and inspiring: what makes you ‘you’? Consider your talents, the struggles you’ve overcome and the dreams you aim to achieve. These make you unique – and a great leader. Self–reflection isn’t always easy, but it can be rewarding – and being ourselves can inspire others.

Keep up to date: having the latest information is key to leading well, are you connected to good sources of information, are you part of a network, do you take time to reflect on what is happening within the NHS?

Jump right in: a can–do attitude is a quality that strong leaders have in spades. When someone is excited to try new things, meet new challenges etc. others will want to come along for the ride.

Take some me time: when you’re leading a team or a group, it can be all too easy to burn out – so it’s important to take care of yourself. Practise saying no and being polite but firm. Your wellbeing is just as important as to whatever else needs doing, and chances are someone else could do it instead (see ‘Work together’, tip number 4). It’s also key to find something that makes you happy and that you take the time to enjoy this – you deserve it!

Find the fun: in tough times, a sense of humour gets us through and it’s extremely useful for teaching those you lead/mentor new skills and tackling challenging issues.

See the bigger picture: you are part of a bigger whole, whether it be your organisation or health provision across the nation, others have been where you are. The reason we do what we do is our patients, without them there would be no service.

QSI is a great opportunity to get your foot on the first rung of the leadership ladder. You don’t have to be a manager; that is something completely different (although if they can’t lead it does make their job harder).

Why not ask at your next appraisal what opportunities exist for you to develop your leadership skills?

Christine Woodgate, MSc, PgD, PgC, DCR(R)
QI Partner RCR/SCoR