What Leadership (in Healthcare) Means To Me During The Pandemic

It's almost six months since I started my new role as a Ward Manager- my third managerial role in 3 years. Yes, so unlikely of me to change jobs this often, however circumstances compelled me to do so. Unfortunately, I was made redundant from the job that built my foundation as a manager in March last year, then difference in values made me quit the next job after that. But here I am now, finally settled in a place where I can say I am happy. 

I remember going for my interview amidst the second lockdown. I was asked to present on "How to Ensure the Right People with the Right Skills are in the Right Place". I really wanted to get this job, so I worked really hard for it although I was only given a few days to prepare. But you know what, I had a very good feeling about this job because every conversation I had with HR was positive. When I submitted  my presentation, she called me and said that the panel has seen my presentation and that they were impressed and couldn't wait to meet me. Apparently, I have answered all their questions through my presentation - exactly my aim whenever I am asked to present during interviews.

So, I decided to share bits of my presentation here because I have been reflecting on my experience in the last six months and realised that although I had a very challenging start, I believe that I have made a real difference as a leader as early as the first 3 months into my role. This was only possible because I have a good bunch of genuinely good people supporting me. The moment I finally built my own team was the moment things started to change positively. As a ward and as a team, we have received very positive feedbacks from our colleagues from other departments as well as from our patients. As a leader, my staff rated me 100% in the recent ward accreditation review. I know I am not perfect, but every positive feedback that I receive from my staff and my other colleagues on my leadership motivates me to do better as a leader. All this because I believe that I have the "Right People with the Right Skills in the Right Place".😉

One of the many things that I learned during this pandemic is stated in a quote by James Lane Allen, "Crisis does not build character. It reveals it." This resonates more so now that there is (still) a pandemic because the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we act and behave as individuals. It has massively impacted our healthcare system, too. And it is in these trying times that the true character of people is revealed.

In this current environment where people are constantly challenged, where risks are high and people are living in constant  fear and uncertainty, we need people who are able to adapt quickly and efficiently, therefore the more we need the right people with the right skills to be in the right place. So....

Right People

When I talk about the Right People, what do I exactly mean? For me, it all starts at recruitment and selection. During interviews, I specifically look for only three things: 
- The Right Qualification.
- The Right Attitude which for me, is the most important thing in the whole recruitment process. The right person with the right attitude should be able to demonstrate compassion, kindness and a caring attitude in their experience and intentions in applying for the role, as well as how well they respond to scenario questions during the interview.
- The Right Experience which is not always necessarily within the speciality but the right person should be able to demonstrate the ability to provide a safe and high standards of nursing care.

Right Skills

The right people will bring in their own skills, however to have the right skills, as a leader, I must empower then to communicate and identify the skills they posses and need to develop, the decisions they have to make, and allow them to be autonomous in performing their tasks. One good example I have for this was when I empowered and developed a junior staff who lacked self-confidence but showing a lot of potential to take on an Infection Control Lead role.

In addition to this, I motivate staff by maintaining open communication and infusing optimism in them. In my first managerial role, I implemented an award for staff of the month as a way of recognising the staff for the difference that they have made to the patients, displaying positive behaviour and going the extra mile for a patient, colleague or a member of the public.

I have always believed that empowered and motivated staff provide the safest and highest standard of care to patients.😊

I am also an advocate for staff development. I actively mentor and assess staff, supporting them in their training and development needs. As a manager, I facilitate annual appraisals, organise ward meetings and facilitate ward teachings. I also encourage staff to seek continuous improvements by encouraging them to attend trainings and take on extended roles such as link roles and participation in audits.

Right Place

I believe that the right place is nurturing and has a robust leadership and management. As a leader (first) and a manager (second), I deliver the best quality of evidence-based care to patients with integrity and always maintaining patient's dignity and privacy. Above all, I always prioritise patient safety. 

As a clinical leader, I am a pivotal source of information and of clinical expertise. As a previous Clinical Nurse Specialist and Nurse Practitioner, I have the ability to perform practical procedures and perform skilled assessment to patients.

In order to gain trust and respect from staff and patients, I believe that authenticity is the key. In addition to this, my team and my ward are a reflection of my leadership, therefore I have to be transparent even in times of failure, and hold strong moral principles.

Also, through my lengthy tenure as a nurse, I have developed confidence and initiative in communicating with other multi-disciplinary teams to ensure patient care is optimal during their hospital stay.

Resiliency is one of my greatest strengths as I believe that I need to be tough to be an effective leader.

It is also important for me to be sensitive to other people's emotions and concerns, and putting myself in other people's shoes. I am more understanding of staff with childcare issues, disabilities or illnesses. Personal reflection is also essential for my personal and professional improvement.

As a clinical leader, I have the ability to rise above challenges. Especially in this current environment, I have to ensure that I boost the staff morale and performance by showing that I care.



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