By Dr Yvette Oade.
Chief Medical Officer, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
Reviewer: Dr Charlotte Michael, ST4 in Emergency Medicine and Clinical Fellow in Clinical Education.
Having trained as a medical student in Leeds Dr Oade, went on to complete paediatric training and become a consultant in Halifax. Now back in Leeds, she is the Chief Medical Officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
During her management journey she has held a range of senior management positions within local NHS organisations including being Executive Medical Director at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust and Chief Medical Officer at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
Dr Oade shares with us some of her experiences as a senior manager in the NHS and reflects on what makes a great clinical leader.
Have a shared vision
The key to successful team leadership is for your team to have shared values and a joint vision for what the organisation is aiming to achieve. If team members are fully engaged and invested in this vision they will be more devoted in making it succeed. Having shared values creates shared and accepted behaviours At Leeds Teaching Hospitals this set of shared values is known as ‘The Leeds Way’. According to the Trust; it defines who they are, what they believe and how they will work to deliver the best outcomes for their patients.
Know your team
To successfully lead a team you need to know and understand your members even if they have limited experience and understanding of each other.
In an NHS Trust there is a wide spectrum of staff groups including those who work clinically and those in primarily more managerial roles. These different staff groups, although within the same organisation, may have very limited experience and understanding of each other’s day-to-day working lives. As a clinical leader you may have to mediate between these groups and encourage understanding of their different views, priorities and experience.
Some team members may be more proactive in seeking you out to share their thoughts and ideas on how you should best lead your team but others that may have equally as valuable insights may need more encouragement.
As a leader you need to understand the different groups within your team and encourage synergistic working between them.
Keep it personal
To lead a clinical team Dr Oade says you must ‘share a bit of yourself’. You must be a person not just a colleague and understand that your colleagues have personal lives away from work which impact and interact with their professional lives. We must be aware of this and be flexible where possible with ourselves and also with our colleagues. Acknowledging and understanding the complexity of balancing work and personal lives leads to better interpersonal relations and better team morale.
Know your problems and recognise opportunities
Large organisations, like NHS trusts present clinical leaders with a multitude of problems; some which are obvious to you and your team but others which may be less evident. Problem areas, once identified can present great opportunities for growth and development. To navigate your team through these problems and maximise the opportunities for improvement you must firstly identify your problem areas which Dr Oade calls ‘burning platforms’. By acknowledging these problems and facing them head on you can engage your team in finding solutions.
Bravery and resilience
To lead a successful clinical team Dr Oade says you need both bravery and resilience. To be brave you must be willing to take risks and move forward with opportunities even in unknown areas. She gave the example of new technology use such as automated electronic patient observation recorders being trialled in post operative surgical patients. If you are willing to try new things you must also be prepared to review and undo these decisions when things do not go as you would have expected.
Dr Oade believes that resilience often comes from within your own team. Clinical teams that work together and support each other show great resilience and Dr Oade cited the example of the Emergency Department consultants supporting their more junior team members by covering their clinical shifts in order that they could attend a local rally against the new Junior doctor contracts.
Take care of one another
Dr Oade explained that to be part of a great clinical team we need to; ‘take care of one another’. We must work to ensure that all team members enjoy their jobs and feel valued. Dr Oade suggests that this can be done by using the motto ‘everyone has something to teach and everyone has something to learn’ encompassing the idea that we should be working together to utilise all strengths within a clinical team.
Take away message
Dr Oade’s talk resonated with me on many levels. As a doctor in training and a woman it was inspiring to hear from a fellow female clinician who has risen through the ranks of medicine and taken the hospital management scene by storm. She gave a personal but relatable overview on clinical leadership. It was refreshing for someone from ‘the management’ to speak so openly about woFor me, the overriding message was that to be a great clinical leader is an achievable feat. It can be done using many of the same qualities that trainees are already developing to be successful clinicians.