“A free, online programme to develop aspiring leaders? Yes please!”

Posted by: Samantha Gillett - Posted on:

Samantha Gillett is a governance support officer at NHS Trafford Clinical Commissioning Group. In her blog, Samantha talks about her experiences of NHS leadership and how the Edward Jenner programme taught her to use power positively.

I began my NHS career as a team secretary in 2006 when I was employed by Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in community mental health services. It was a few days before my 19th birthday when I began the role and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I “grew up.” I quickly realised that working in the NHS was something that I not only enjoyed, but took great pride in. The contribution of each role to improving patient care is amazing and being part of an organisation that’s internationally recognised as being one of the best employers and providers is very special.

Throughout my NHS career, I’ve had varying experiences of leadership and fortunately many of them have been positive. I’ve worked with managers that have been supportive, empowering and inclusive and this is when I’ve seen staff thrive and grow, including myself. By encouraging staff to pursue their personal and professional development to offering support in difficult times, these leaders were inspiring and motivated me to continue my learning and better myself. I found that the environment I was working in flourished when managers engaged staff and promoted people using their individual skillset, supporting the team to achieve our goals in the most efficient and positive way possible.

I was fortunate that the trust allowed me to make use of the Apprenticeship Levy on two occasions and I was able to obtain an ILM Level 2 qualification in Team Leading, and this year I completed a Level 4 Diploma in Business and Professional Administration. While completing my diploma, I was encouraged to incorporate some aspects of self-study to develop new skills that would support me in achieving future goals. I aspired to hold more leadership responsibility but was limited in the role I had at the time. I found the Edward Jenner programme by chance. As I read the programme content, I felt it allowed me to consolidate some of the learning that I was gaining as part of the diploma but also to develop further leadership skills within a healthcare framework. I was excited that the NHS had such a great function available to staff – a free, online programme to develop aspiring leaders? Yes please!

Learning with the Academy has been a great experience. The programme is set out with short videos, articles and reflective exercises that were engaging and interesting and at no point felt overwhelming or too intensive. I enjoyed the variety of the programme and the breakdown of topics allowed me to reflect and think about how I could use the skills within my role and also at home. Having reflective exercises in place of the usual quiz or assignment typically used in e-learning was refreshing and a nice change from the usual mandatory training!

I appreciated the community feel on the Academy’s online forums and reading other people’s reflections broadened my thinking on a variety of topics. It was great to read posts from participants on other career paths and see how they developed. I was also able to use the skills developed on the programme in many aspects of my role. I felt more assertive in a constructive manner, speaking out when I felt that a process could be improved or built upon. Although I’m not in a management position, I’ve been able to lead some changes for the improvement of our patient journey. This includes developing a flowchart and template letter for use by the team during the referral triage process. I’ve also tried to promote the Edward Jenner programme to nurse colleagues undergoing the revalidation process.

The Edward Jenner programme has given me greater confidence. It’s helped me to look at what I could be achieving and prompted me to further-develop my skills and experience in another role. I’ve recently joined NHS Trafford CCG’s Governance Team which is very different from my previous organisation. I’m looking forward to the challenge of a new role and any fears I had before about changing career after such a long time are muted by the excitement of joining a team that’s growing and thriving, and being able to contribute to that is a big motivation.

Summarising what the Edward Jenner programme has taught me is quite difficult – there’s so much! However, some things that stood out were:

  • Adapt and don’t avoid! I think it’s natural to avoid things we find difficult and most of us want to “keep the peace” but this isn’t always the most productive way. Sometimes we need to challenge to make processes more efficient. The programme has taught me that choosing to adapt rather than avoid is a much healthier and more productive way of working. A temporary hardship could make a dramatic and positive impact on patient care if we learn to adapt.
  • Be a host, not a hero: When working in a team we should always be looking to support our colleagues. Teams are made up of a skill mix and when this is recognised and empowered by a good leader the impact on productivity, efficiency and staff engagement is something special.
  • Use power positively: Before the programme I’d never really thought about how power could be used. Power usually has a negative connotation of micromanagement, but the Academy taught me that despite my feelings of being “just a secretary”, I did have power and it could be used to a great effect! Utilising the power from people in your network and combining this with your own power can be productive and useful and the Academy’s positive, helpful viewpoint on this was really interesting.
The Edward Jenner programme is your first port of call if you’re looking to build a strong foundation of leadership skills that can help enhance your confidence and competence in your role.

Find out more about the Edward Jenner programme and apply today.

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