Developing your leadership skills
Different leadership skills will come more naturally to some than to others, but everyone can develop their skills through a range of learning opportunities and reflection. These skills can develop through experience and supervision, and through feedback from our own leadership actions and behaviours at work.
More formal leadership development can be undertaken as part of a course, but also dipped in and out of through accessing on-line learning, coaching and mentorship and less formal continuous professional development.
The principles of quality improvement or PDSA cycles can be useful in honing leadership skills.
- Plan: Consider your choices about what is possible in your work environment
- Do: Try something small – have a difficult conversation, chair a meeting, step up, offer support, “follow” or support a leader
- Study: Reflect, seek feedback and notice the response of others
- Act: Decide what to do differently next time (more of something, less of something, a different choice of words or behaviour?)
A note about getting it wrong
Developing new skills or amending the way you behave is difficult. We know this as behavioural scientists. When you learnt to ride a bike, you fell off; when you first had to put in a cannula, you trembled and messed up. Recognising and acknowledging that you may have “got it wrong” is a stepping stone to getting it right, not a reason to give up. Take care with your leadership gestures, seek feedback and use others to reflect with or seek help via coaching or mentorship.
“I’ve not failed, just found 10000 ways that don’t work” (Thomas Edison)
“A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new” (Albert Einstein)
Leadership can be difficult, being brave and trying out new ways of being can sometimes go wrong or be painful. Getting support from others around you, seeking feedback and leading together is safer and much more fun and in line with the emphasis on shared leadership outlined in the MLCF. There are many potential sources of this support, from psychiatric colleagues in your peer group, to colleagues from other disciplines, through to formal mentoring or coaching arrangements. Leadership courses tend to focus on group dynamics and action learning sets as a way of ensuring that attention is paid to this aspect of learning.
Below we've suggested some resources to support you develop your leadership skills wherever you are in your career.
Become a RCPsych Student Associate
You’ll be invited to free events designed for medical students, and get discounted rates to the College’s International Congress, the biggest psychiatry event in the UK attended by psychiatrists worldwide. You get free electronic subscription to some fantastic magazines (BJPsych, BJPsych Bulletin, and BJPsych Advances), receive e-newsletters and copies of the biannual Associate magazine, Future Psych. You will get free access to Trainees Online (TrOn), our online training module, which includes modules on leadership.
Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management Medical Student Group
The Medical Student Group (MSG) is an active section of FMLM working to reach out to all medical schools across the UK, to promote clinical leadership through changes to the curriculum, engaging with societies and promoting the work of FMLM.
RCPsych Leadership and Management Fellow Scheme
This Scheme supports the formation of a national network of emerging healthcare leaders and combines a bespoke, high impact leadership development training programme with an apprenticeship model. Fellows proactively engage in local leadership projects and are mentored by senior medical leaders within their organisations.
A central consideration for the structure of the taught programme is that there is significant benefit from the development of the learning community. Encouraging shared experience and sharing best practice has been considered key to the success of previous delegates and is therefore a central underpinning of this scheme. Senior members of the programme team will support you throughout. Recruitment is in the spring for a programme staring in September annually.
Find out more about the scheme
Leadership and Management Study Guide for higher trainees in psychiatry
This study guide has been prepared to provide resources to support you, the psychiatric trainee, to develop the leadership competencies you need to meet the demands of your advanced training curriculum. We recognise that trainers (educational supervisors) will also use this guide; so to help them we have included ‘tips for trainers’.
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Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management Medical Student Group
As well as being tomorrow’s senior leaders, trainees are powerful agents for change today. Their place at the heart of most clinical microsystems and their regular rotation between different providers gives them a unique perspective on the challenges facing services as well as the possible solutions. Since its formation, the TSG of the FMLM has established a strong foundation and is now building on early successes to better engage the entire membership.
Covid-19: why compassionate leadership matters in a crisis Suzie Bailey and Michael West of the Kings Fund examine why compassionate care matters now more than ever, and how leaders can support workers risking their own health and wellbeing.
COVID-19: organisational wellbeing RCPsych guidance outlining key ideas and measures intended to support organisations during the current crisis, and is applicable at individual, team and organisational levels.
How does the NHS in England work? An alternative guide The King's Fund's whistle-stop tour of how the NHS works and how it’s changing in England, outlining the roles of commissioners, NHS England, with the development of Sustainability and Transformation Plans and Accountable Care Systems.
The NHS long term plan In January 2019, NHS England published a Long Term Plan for the NHS in England. This set out how the NHS would allocate its funding and what its priorities would be for the next five to ten years. The College provides a summary of the key mental health commitments and how they will be implemented.
Implementing the NHS long-term plan The NHS long-term plan sets out an ambitious programme for change and improvement across the NHS. In its written submission to the House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee The King's Fund argues that successful implementation of the plan depends on adequate funding for social care and public health, NHS education and training, and capital investment.
What is commissioning and how is it changing? Commissioning is the process by which health and care services are planned, purchased and monitored. Here The King's Fund looks at the commissioning process in more detail, the organisations involved and how it is changing.
Healthcare Leadership Model (PDF) The Healthcare Leadership Model is to help those who work in health and care to become better leaders. It is useful for everyone – whether you have formal leadership responsibility or not, if you work in a clinical or other service setting, and if you work with a team of five people or 5,000. It describes the things you can see leaders doing at work and is organised in a way that helps everyone to see how they can develop as a leader. It applies equally to the whole variety of roles and care settings that exist within health and care.
BMJ Leader BMJ Leader is co-owned by FMLM and the BMJ, has an international reach and gives access to the latest peer-reviewed articles and research reviews relevant to the many disciplines that make up leadership in health services.
The changing role of leadership in health care In this video, Dympna Cunnane, Organizational Development Consultant and Programme Director at London Business School, discusses her views on how health care leaders respond to the pressures of the job and their role in ensuring high quality, compassionate care for patients.
How do we become compassionate leaders? An excessive focus on systems, policy, and performance without talking about the people involved can exclude, undermine, and disillusion those we want to bring about change in the NHS, says Consultant Psychiatrist, Billy Boland.
The power of vulnerability In this TED Talk, Brenee Brown, research professor at the University of Houston, explores showing vulnerability. 'When we work from a place, I believe, that says, "I'm enough" ... then we stop screaming and start listening, we're kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we're kinder and gentler to ourselves.'
Talking Leadership: Advantage Blindness There is still a major concern with diversity and leadership. The King's Fund explores why it’s important for those in management and leadership roles to be aware of potential blind spots.
Breaking the leadership mould 'Being a leader in the NHS — it’s bloody brilliant as a job. It really is. There’s nothing like it. But imagine if we got rid of all the sh** around at the moment, with being treated poorly and being under constant pressure, how much more brilliant would it be?' Being a leader in today’s NHS is one of the most rewarding jobs going, but with this vocation, comes a huge amount of complexity, responsibility, and risk.
Life in the shadow of the snowy white peaks: race inequalities in the NHS workforce Past analysis has shown the people in the most senior positions in the NHS are overwhelmingly white and male. The King's Fund explored a phenomenon dubbed the ‘Snowy white peaks of the NHS’.
Using quality improvement An understanding of the language of Quality Improvement is an important aspect of many leadership and management roles. The College provides an introduction to the concept and guides you to quality improvement resources.
The improvement journey Much of the national policy discourse on NHS organisations has focused on how they perform against a core set of quality and financial targets. As a result, much more attention has been paid to ‘what’ providers have done than to ‘how’ or ‘why’ they have done it. In recent years, there has been a shift in approach looking beyond performance to the capabilities and capacity to drive improvement.
What's leadership got to do with it? Leading quality improvement is complex and demanding. It requires leaders to manage uncertainty, foster cultural and behavioural change, and manage implementation. We aim to develop leaders who are capable and confident of responding appropriately to the wide range of complexities and opportunities that they might face.
Making data count Want to understand more about the way in which we look at data and understand whether things are improving or deteriorating. Traditional RAG ratings can be misleading. Learn how to “plot the dots” using statistical process control which is increasingly used in the NHS to understand whether change results in improvement It is an important approach to understand if you want to understand operational management or assurance processes used by Boards.
Leadership in psychiatry
Dinesh Bhugra, Pedro Ruiz, Susham Gupta (Editors)
The psychiatric profession must ensure that its next generation of leaders has the appropriate skills to provide mental health services in the face of globalization and urbanization, new technologies, and competing demands for shrinking resources. Developing leadership skills and leaders is critical in order to optimise the use of resources, their application, service planning and delivery of services for patients and their families. This is the first book on leadership (rather than management skills) to focus on psychiatry and mental health care. The aim is to guide mental health professionals in general and psychiatrists in particular on how to gain the relevant skills and on how to utilise these skills and training to take on leadership roles in clinical and organisational settings.
The NHS explained: how the health system in England really works
The NHS explained is an online course run by the King’s Fund that will help you understand the building blocks that make up the healthcare system in England through videos with experts from The King's Fund, articles and quizzes. You will learn about the intricate parts that contribute towards the running of the fifth largest employer in the world. You will explore the challenges facing the NHS and how we can tackle these to ensure a health and care system that's fit for the future
The King's Fund Leadership Development Courses
The King's Fund offers a range of courses for leaders and aspirant leaders
NHS Leadership Academy
The NHS Leadership Academy provides leadership development for people of all backgrounds and experiences across health and care. Most need funding, although some bursaries are available. The Edward Jenner programme is an online, free course, which leads to an NHS Leadership Academy Award in Healthcare Leadership Foundations.
E-Learning for Health
E-Learning for Health is run by Health Education England and offers a range of free online courses, including a number that are relevant to leadership such as Leadership for Clinicians, Management and Leadership Skills, Leadership Foundation and Quality Improvement and Change Management.
Leaders Plus Fellowship
The Leaders Plus Fellowship programme supports parents with young children to combine ambitious career aspirations with caring for their young children. Over the course of the nine-month programme, participants have access to an external peer support network, training by experienced facilitators and coaches, personal mentoring by a senior leader who has combined a career with young children and inspiring role models who have combined successful leadership careers whilst raising young children.
RCPsych Leadership and Management Fellow Scheme
This scheme supports the formation of a national network of emerging healthcare leaders and combines a bespoke, high impact leadership development training programme with an apprenticeship model. Fellows proactively engage in local leadership projects and are mentored by senior medical leaders within their organisations.
A central consideration for the structure of the taught programme is that there is a significant benefit from the development of the learning community. Encouraging shared experience and sharing best practice has been considered key to the success of previous delegates and is therefore a central underpinning of this scheme. Senior members of the programme team will support you throughout. Recruitment is in the spring for a programme starting in September annually.