Being a medical leader is a difficult job. You want to make a difference and yet it’s so easy to get bogged down in operational issues, bureaucracy and management concerns. Your colleagues misunderstand you and your intentions, and you juggle multiple roles. Yet you have a vital role to play.
Where to ‘put the ladder’?
The classic metaphor of leadership versus management is that leaders know where to put the ladder, and managers put the rungs of the ladder in place for others to climb. When we’re preoccupied with detail, it’s much harder to see the bigger picture and what it is we’re seeking to achieve in terms of health outcomes, where to ‘put the ladder’. Knowing where to focus efforts to improve health outcomes and patient experience is vital to any organisation or system and needs clear and visionary thinkers who can steer the ship in the most appropriate direction. Knowing where to put the ladder isn’t enough, we need to be able to win the hearts and minds of decision makers so that they will support us in our endeavours.
Connecting with Decision Makers
I’ve spent my career in system medical leadership roles and I passionately believe in the value of clinical leadership. Understanding the complexity of the wider determinants of health and how the whole healthcare system fits together is one set of skills, but being able to combine this with the ability to ‘sell’ changes to Board members, politicians, and other senior decision makers is where some of the real benefits of clinical leadership are to be found. Through the conscious use of lived clinical experience, anecdotes and case studies, medical leaders can connect at an emotional level with decision makers- which is how most decisions are made at the end of the day. By connecting dry process documents such as business and financial plans with the difference it will make to real people, we can bring our vision alive – and get the green light to go ahead.
About half of the 25 mid-career and senior doctors whom I am currently coaching are in medical leadership positions. I help my clients to get really clear on their own personal values in and outside of work, to develop their skills in their leadership role, to plan their longer term careers, supporting them to develop and stretch themselves and also to make sure that they are caring for themselves at the same time. We know the UK health system is struggling and it needs its medical leaders more than ever. I can help you to flourish in your medical leadership role and to make a real difference to the people you serve.
Dr Fiona Day (MBChB, FFPH, Dip Occ Med, ILM 7 Executive Coaching and Mentoring) is a Leadership and Career Coach and helps mid-career and senior Doctors and Professionals to improve their careers and working lives, using evidence based psychological theory and behaviour change science. Download a free career planning workbook and find out more at www.fionadayconsulting.co.uk; to explore working with me please book a confidential half hour Career Consultation here.