Leading during ill winds

Investing in relationships can build both team and leadership resilience, says Karen Poole

Karen Poole
Karen Poole consultant therapist (rehabilitation) for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.

I had a discussion with a colleague recently around how we keep our rehabilitation strategy and transformation programme moving forward, when every conversation I’m in is dominated by increasing demand, the need for urgent responsiveness, and colleagues with no more energy or headspace left to think about the future. 

As a consultant leading a programme of work in my trust, I, like everyone else, have been asked to reduce non-essential activity. To do it needs the wisdom and experience of my colleagues, shared in a collective dialogue, with leadership support.  

If you’re a leader, make sure that you have a good support network to help with your own resilience, as it’s hard to positively support others when you are struggling. 

I make sure I connect with peers and colleagues doing similar work – I have a great network of consultant AHP colleagues across the country that I regularly ‘drop in with’ – to know that you are dealing with similar stuff and sharing experiences can be helpful. 

I check in with my other leadership colleagues at the end of the day to ‘wind down’ and explore some of the ‘offline’ narrative – it helps me to really see and hear how others are feeling. These are often the colleagues where the urgent request comes from: how are they doing?

For colleagues I’m working with, I always try to make sure that I’m available for that soft, unplanned conversation. Be honest about the challenges: how can you work together most effectively in the face of them? 

The team I lead are working hard to innovate within our inpatient rehabilitation unit, and it’s hard – the push to move patients through the unit is relentless; and we are taking patients who may sit outside of our normal cohort in order to support acute flow. 

It’s tough right now: but when and wherever you can, try to share those moments of joy and sparkle. 

Find out more

A series of vlogs by Karen on influencing and leadership, produced in conjunction with the CSP influencer network. 

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