I’m May, a foundation year 2 academic trainee doctor in the leadership and management programme at East Midlands. In this post, I will be briefly going through my experiences and reflections so far on the discovery of ‘leadership’ journey . Please take a moment and ponder question before moving onto next.
What springs to mind when you hear about the phrase “being a leader”?
This is my google images search on “leader.” Does it correlate with your own vision?
Photo credit: Google image search
Photo credit: Google image search
There are multiple definitions of leadership and qualities of a leader; and are nearly 5000 PubMed journals on “leadership skills.” A few examples of leadership skills are as follows: motivation, communication, confidence, delegating, responsibility and transparency.
Photo credit: PubMed search
Imagine yourself in a class/conference/lecture room and you have asked to raise your hand if you agree with this question,
“Do you consider yourself as a leader?”
I have been in that scenario and felt a bit reluctant to confidently agree to that statement without any condition or situational clause attached to it. There were only a few people in that talk who put their hands up and not surprisingly, majority of those were consultants. As a junior doctor, we often see ourselves as a role player among the team and consultant as a leader. I was talking to with my consultant about the topic of ‘leadership’ and he suggested one might feel like a leader or person of importance as we go along the medical school then as a junior doctor, somehow this feeling and enthusiasm has reverted to square one. He mentioned that as a consultant, you are then expected to be embodied a leader, so it can be a big jump for some people.
I resonate with what my consultant was talking about. As a final year medical student, I was loaded with confidence in my leadership, having involved in a number of societies and organising teaching sessions for junior medical students. However, beginning my foundation year 1 felt like starting school for the first time. Even though there were three years of clinical experience as a medical student, it was never the same type of responsibility, stress or time-pressure.
It is hard to feel like a leader when you are in the lowest rank in terms of clinical/medical ladder.
It was a huge learning curve; from learning how different computer systems in your hospital work to how to prepare rigorous questioning of a radiologist to get a MRI scan that your consultant ask for. Not to mention, the challenges of working effectively with multi-disciplinary team members who have different clinical experiences and might have different priorities and circumstances for their jobs.
Doing the leadership and management course has made me reflect and realise that we have all been in situations where we have taken the lead among the team members at work to achieve a certain outcome. Due to the complex and multi-facet nature of leadership, I personally believe that the skills of a leader can be considered as nature as well as nurture.
Sure, some people have innate abilities or skills of a leader but it is also important to develop and nurture them.
One of the things that I was surprised to learn in the programme is the importance of self-awareness and self-development in leadership. It makes sense to find out exactly what our strengths and weaknesses are, to better ourselves and able to guide or lead others. I also believe that leadership skills should be learned or developed from early in the clinical career. We don’t have to be a consultant to be a leader at work and equally, we cannot expect those skills to suddenly appear with the title if we don’t nurture them prior!