Marimouttou Coumarassamy (Coumar) is a General Manager at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and alumni of our Ready Now programme. In his blog, Coumar explains how the programme has supported his confidence, resilience and drive to become an effective senior NHS leader.
am a nurse by background, and I qualified in India in August 1994 before emigrating
to the UK in October 2003. After successfully completing the adaptation programme, I gained registration
with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and started practising as a Registered Mental
Nurse from April 2004. After gaining twelve months experience as a band 5
nurse, I was promoted to Deputy Ward Manager before working my way up to Ward Manager
over a period of several years. It was during this time I decided to do a one-year
secondment as a programme lead, reporting to the chief executive officer of my trust.
This helped me to break what I saw as the glass ceiling and I was successful in
securing the post of General Manager four years later.
the early part of my career I learned to be a good manager and I was able to
meet all the targets and expectations with the support of my team. However, I
struggled to be an effective leader and I couldn’t see that many willing followers.
My first leadership role started when I did my
secondment as a Trust Lead for the Listening
into Action programme (LiA). My main responsibility
was to influence key leaders in the trust to improve staff engagement and
empowerment. I needed to develop a relationship of trust for the success of the
LiA programme, something I found very challenging before my time on the Ready
Now programme. Other challenges the Ready Now programme helped me address include
having the right level of emotional intelligence to look for non-verbal cues
and unspoken expectations and the ability to influence others to achieve
results. With the help of coaching and mentoring I was able to trust my values
and leadership skills and deal with those challenges at the time. Being a
leader isn’t always easy, but you can effect mammoth changes and that’s what I
learned from my first leadership experience.
I began the Ready Now programme in January 2015. At
that time, I was looking for a leadership development programme for someone
like me. As a BAME leader in the NHS, I needed a place to share my anxieties
and fears and to learn from colleagues who had similar experiences and the
programme provided this space for me. I strongly feel that the lack of equity
and discrimination is very much prevalent in the system and I wanted to learn
how to deal with it successfully.
programme was a fantastic experience. I’m an introvert and it encouraged me to
challenge myself and my self-limiting beliefs. It helped me to gain more self-awareness
and unpick my unhelpful leadership behaviours and become more facilitative,
inclusive, engaging and outcome focused, without compromising my values. The
programme gave me more confidence and resilience, helping me to achieve my goal
of being a better NHS leader at the right level. Since completing the Ready Now programme in January 2016
I have been promoted to service manager in October 2017 and later again to the
role of general manager.
In my current role as general manager, I still apply my learning from the Ready Now programme, ensuring I role model positive leadership behaviours such as being inclusive, engaging, self-aware, emotionally and politically intelligent and resilient.
Ready Now programme helps to develop confident BAME leaders who feel empowered
to champion inclusive leadership, which positively promotes inclusive patient
care. The NHS workforce, especially at a senior level, isn’t always
representative of the population it serves. Programmes like Ready Now can help
to reduce the gap by developing BAME leaders to realise their potential and
secure senior roles in the NHS.
NHS needs inclusive and compassionate leadership. Our population is diverse,
and we need a leadership that places inclusiveness at its centre. The NHS needs
leaders who can look after its people (both staff and patients), caring for
them and helping them to deliver. As leaders of the NHS, we should all take
responsibility and ownership in making the NHS more inclusive.