Professor Hughes is an occupational psychologist who works with large corporates and rugby and football teams, was formerly a Director of HR for Unilever and is a supporter of a youth club in Manchester (www.liquidthinker.com). Dr Peters is a psychiatrist who works with the GB and Sky cycling teams, as well as other sportsmen and the corporate world, and is also the Undergraduate Dean at Sheffield Medical School and author of the bestselling book, ‘The Chimp Paradox’. Both were able to offer amazing insights into the world of high-performing individuals and teams as well as much more basic ideas we can all use in our day to day world with ourselves and our teams. As an added bonus, the session took place at the National Cycling Centre at the Manchester Velodrome and we were able to see a cyclist cycling at 56 mph.
Though there were too many take-home messages to list here, here is a selection:
- The importance of your team agreeing their behaviours and ways of measurement.
- The immense commitment to being the best you can be.
- The value of regular team feedback on progress.
- The importance of asking people what has gone well today.
- The importance of enjoying oneself.
- The significant added value of teams setting their own targets.
- The improved performance levels obtained when people truly believe there is an animal inside you (‘the chimp’) that needs your help and management (this is something Dr Peters talks about in his book).
This was NHS Top Leaders at its best in terms of learning world class knowledge to help the service on a day to day basis. However, it will take the six members of the impact group a long time to make a nationwide difference. The service needs to be exposed to the likes of Dr Peters and Professor Hughes on a regular and systematic basis so that staff performance can be transformed and with it the state of the NHS. If it’s good enough for the Olympics and major corporate organisations then it should be used by the NHS.
There is a danger with the new reforms being introduced that their introduction becomes an end in itself. Instead, we need to be able to look at life positively and examine our behaviour to try and be the best we can, rather than saying and doing the same thing relentlessly and every day in every exchange and in every intervention and discussion. This is just the beginning and so we need a fundamentally different approach to how we lead and how we behave. Dr Peters and Professor Hughes show us extraordinary ways of doing this which should be encouraged to become commonplace.
When undergoing the NHS Top Leaders Core Programme, participants form ‘impact groups’. In these groups Top Leaders can support each other’s development and learning and collaborate on innovative ways of working.
Mike Harris, Director of Forensic Services for Nottinghamshire Health Care NHS Trust, reports on his impact group’s visit to Manchester Velodrome.