A team’s reflections on leadership

Shortsmoor Leadership Training September 2018

The following blog combines a number of personal reflections from different people – all within the same team – following participation in a Shortsmoor Leadership training course together.  KQuIP is supporting leadership training for all Quality Improvement leads across participating renal units.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. We were in a team meeting and one of us said “we should go on this course, so we know what it feels like…”

Leading up to the course, I felt a little anxious. I had heard that previous delegates found it quite hard work, and some had become emotional.  There was definitely the fear of the unknown, but also excitement. I was looking forward to spending some time with my team, whilst still hoping I wouldn’t do anything to embarrass myself… I was afraid I would not like what the mirror would show!

On the first day, I arrived at the venue and the course leader gave us a warm welcome – I immediately started to relax. He had set up the room in two areas – one for an informal talking zone, and the other where we would watch presentations. The style was relaxed, and questions were encouraged. I really enjoyed moving about and the time flew by. I was completely engaged from the start.

We were tasked with some observed activities – these were fun but I was aware of being watched by my colleagues and although I tried to relax, I found myself not wanting to push myself forward in-case I came across as bossy. As it turned out the activity was just a distraction. We received feedback from those observing us which provided a unique opportunity to allow individual reflection based on group interactions and environment. This made it a safe place to really explore an individual’s understanding of themselves as a leader, providing an opportunity to seek out areas to improve.  We all took turns to be ‘observers’ and it was quite hard – it can be difficult to find negative things to say to your team.

After we had completed these activities, the course leader told us that the filming had finished – well we had completely forgotten we were being filmed! On the second day we had to watch some excerpts of the film which we were all dreading, however once I got used to seeing myself on film, I was OK with it – in fact, I was really pleased with what I saw – I came across more confident than I expected, and found it a really positive experience – from which I was able to learn about myself, and how I come across to others. I have an internal dialogue when I speak publicly, which makes me feel like I am not doing a good job, and watching the film has made me feel more confident.

I really enjoyed the two days – it was great to undertake the training with other members of the team – and I didn’t ever feel uncomfortable, or that I was out of my depth. I came away feeling more confident in my own abilities, and keen to let others know how positively I felt about the course.  It gave me a lot to reflect on both from a personal perspective but also from the perspective of understanding my colleagues more. This has certainly highlighted the differences in personality within our team and the most effective approaches I should use when being a leader to really utilise and harness these different characteristics .

During and after the course I gained a deeper understanding of my self-perception and how I might be perceived by others.   It really was a rare and fantastic experience and I’d highly recommend it to those involved in leading any improvement initiative.

The lesson for me is reflecting and self-assessment.  Although sometimes uncomfortable at the time, this is necessary in order for individuals to change and improve.   Change starts with me but unless I have insight into what I need to do to change, I will be forever in the same place – never moving on.

I came away from the two days feeling energised and expansive but also a tiny bit wiser about the impact words and deeds can have on others around me. The real challenge is to keep reflecting on this regularly, putting into practice behaviour change that inspires others but also develops me as an individual – it is so easy to go back to default behaviours under stress. As a team having had this opportunity we want to support one another to be ready to challenge poor behaviours and strive to develop as a team. We are incorporating reflection into our team meetings and developing a safe space to have direct and honest conversations as well as seeking out mentoring and coaching. We can’t let this opportunity go to waste and as quality improvement leads we need to support other teams to develop and grow.

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