Long term leadership

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A few years ago, in very similar weather conditions we’re having at the moment, a community nurse I knew braved around seven miles on foot so that she could carry out her ward round. After all, caring for patients couldn’t wait, and the patient doesn’t have the luxury of shifting their everyday routine around – so it’s down to the staff to do that for them. On that day, it was that particular nurses outstanding determination to the job and commitment to her patients care that resonated with me. I also happened to find it out by chance because she didn’t actually tell anyone. To work in the NHS, we know that patient care should be at the forefront of everything we do but we also know that on some days, it requires incredible resilience and tenacity.

Sharing stories such as this enables others to learn and use it to develop their own leadership. Achieving the right results in healthcare is a marathon, not a sprint, and the resilience required for this comes from understanding how to balance your everyday routines, both at work and at home. For me, many years ago, I learnt a difficult way to make sure I kept a balance between my personal and professional worlds. After missing a significant moment at home – which I have regretted ever since – I realised the imbalance could, and would, easily affect my job and therefore, my contribution to the care of patients.

In my previous experience as a senior manager and CEO, I have been blessed with countless encounters of staff who went the extra mile in order to deliver excellent patient care and, as in the story above, some quite literally. In today’s NHS, there is a huge pace of change, and particularly so in the next few days with some people seeing their colleagues leaving the service and new ones joining. This can often be a particularly difficult time and despite this it is very important that we all remain as focussed on our patients and on what we’re here to do. We know that satisfied staff deliver better care and over time this can build into a really positive and productive spiral which, in turn, builds resilience and commitment.

To implement leadership styles and behaviours and improve services, your resilience and that of others needs to be strong. We need leaders who are here for the long-term, who are willing to go that extra mile because they understand that the real outcome of what they can achieve is also for the long term; our NHS. I would invite others to share their own experiences of what motivates them and how it drives them in their roles on a daily basis.