Learning to lead

Abi Burrows shares her experience of the CSP’s Leadership Development Programme and encourages other future leaders to apply

Abi Burrows
Abi Burrows improvement lead, improvement and transformation team, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

After dipping my toe in the water with a predominately non-clinical role in practice development, I knew I wanted to broaden my thinking and develop my skills away from clinical techniques, but I wasn’t sure how.

I stumbled across the Leadership Development Programme (LDP) on the CSP website, expressed my interest and applied as soon as applications opened. 

To my delight I was successful and soon found myself sat with 11 other, equally excited yet daunted physios and one orthotist who joined us on our journey. 

We all soon became friends and they’ve proved to be a huge part of my leadership story. 

They’ve been cheerleaders, critical friends and confidantes - each embodying many phenomenal leadership qualities I strive to achieve.

I have learnt so much about myself. I learnt you can’t begin to understand and lead others well if you don’t look inside yourself and understand yourself. 

On reflection I realised I tended to surround myself with people similar to me. It generally felt easier but it wasn’t always that successful. 

Learning how others may view my words and actions really struck a chord with me. I realised that there is no single leadership style that is necessarily better than another. 

It’s all about authenticity, integrity and adapting styles to a time and place. I’ve been so lucky to have been led by, and worked alongside some truly inspirational leaders. 

Leaders do not sit at the top, leaders inspire and empower others, recognise what they have to offer and push them frontward. 

Since completing the LDP, I have gone onto a new post as an improvement lead. Have I got leadership nailed? Absolutely not. 

It is a never ending voyage with many different opportunities when we open our eyes to them. 

As physios first and foremost, our skills in building trust, listening, problem solving, motivating and adapting are all invaluable in this ever changing landscape. We just need to recognise how best to utilise them. 

The LDP has not only pushed me past my perceived boundaries but it has encouraged me to share my enthusiasm and passion to others. For those looking for a challenge, this is one that you will never forget.  

  • Abi Burrows is improvement lead, improvement and transformation team, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

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