Over the next few weeks we will be hearing from people around the organisation on the topic of leadership – in particular how do we define leadership? what are the qualities that make a good leader and who are the leaders we admire and why?
We begin with Doctor John Keanley, Clinical Head Plastics Department who explores the question:
What is Clinical Leadership?
Most discussions around this topic focus on the clinician (in its broadest sense) as a leader but often fail to be clear as to what is actually meant by this. This lack of clarity within an organisation may result in much talk and no action.
I was talking to a friend the other weekend who is involved in leadership development in private industry and has worked in an number of large organisations. It became clear, after a while, that the model that she worked with was somewhat different to the one we currently see in healthcare. The private business models she worked with assumed all staff in management positions were leaders and sought to improve their leadership skills. Hence leadership development, in this context, is relatively easily targeted as there is a preselected group to work with.
This is quite different to the position we find ourselves in, as many clinicians who are clearly leaders will not hold management positions. So how do you reconcile this discrepancy?
Perhaps we should define/redefine clinical leadership? Perhaps clinical leadership should be leadership in matters clinical, rather than specifically by clinicians. Though they will be well qualified to be leaders in this regard, non-clinical managers could also show leadership in matters clinical. They may need to seek expert advice, but isn’t that what a good leader does? Surrounds themselves with individuals with the skill sets necessary to achieve their goals and motivate the team to achieve them.
I am concerned that the current focus on “leadership by clinicians” risks allowing non-clinical managers to dissociate themselves from “matters clinical”. At the end of the day we are all in the business of delivering clinical care to patients. Whether we are a clinician or not, we are all, in one way or another, “caregivers”.
Dr John Keanley
Check out our leadership quotations.