This week I had the pleasure of a dinner meeting with a couple of senior female NHS leaders. We started with discussing work, of course, but as the evening progressed we went on to families, children and then ourselves. These are fabulous, really successful women and yet much of the time we were talking about all the things that riddled us with self-doubt, how we weren’t living up to our own expectations at work, at home, with our families and friends.
We asked ourselves if we were really demonstrating everything we wanted to see in NHS leaders? Were we good role models, mentors, managers and colleagues? They wanted not just to be doing things brilliantly effective, but it was so important to them how they worked, the impact they had on those around them and what they needed to do to be better. These two women who have achieved so much – are really valued by those around them, but just couldn’t see the success of who they were themselves. Is it a woman thing? Just an NHS thing? (Or maybe just spending an evening with me?!)
Over the last few weeks, we have been sharing our ‘proud of the NHS’ badges and have a growing gallery of people sharing their pride in what the NHS does. But the NHS is only as good as the staff that make it what it is, and pride in the NHS is really about our pride in those that work with us. It would be understandable though if we all thought the NHS was full of complacent, uncaring, incompetent, lazy coasters who were corrupt and not interested in improving things for our patients and communities. We know that this is not true. We know that every single day most of us are delighted in small ways or others by the care, compassion, intelligence, resilience, innovation and commitment we see from people in the NHS. Our staff are an enormous testament to how important it is for us to provide care for those who need it and to do so with professionalism and real compassion.
It is so important to recognise that in others. Yes, we could all do things better and yes, many of us make mistakes. But most of the people you work with will deserve praise not criticism. It is not just important to tell people how much you value them – it’s important occasionally to make a more public statement of thanks which reassures everyone in the NHS that there is much more to celebrate than to rebuke, and reminds us that we are appreciated for what we do and how we do it. So, I am going to recommend both my wonderful female colleagues from this week for a recognition award. And, I would love you to do the same right now for someone who you recognise to be fabulous at what they do. Let’s spend a little bit of time and energy saying thank you to those who work in the NHS for what they mean to us – let’s remind them that however hard they might be on themselves, however frequently they feel criticised or vilified for what they do, there are people around them that are grateful every day for having them work in our wonderful NHS. What better way to end the week!