The nature of leadership

Karen Middleton has been thinking about the nature of leadership recently, looking at the classic question ‘where is it?’

CSP CEO Karen Middleton
CSP CEO Karen Middleton

Leadership is a major topic of conversation relating to national and international politics of late, and it also on my mind with voting opening for the CSP Council elections on 6 June. As with local and national political elections, it is vital we all cast our vote for the members who will volunteer their time to lead the profession and govern the organisation. Who, in your judgement, has the experience and expertise to perform those functions but also has the drive and passion that means physiotherapy and the CSP will continue to evolve and adapt under their leadership? Who will bring lived experience and different perspectives on the choices and decisions that need to be made? And who can demonstrate leadership?

I have said many times that leadership is not about a position or job title but about a mind-set and a set of behaviours – there are many definitions, but that is how I think of it. You can become a leader through many mechanisms – simply by behaving like one, by being appointed, or – as in the case of the CSP Council – you are mandated to lead. We mandate those who are elected to make decisions on behalf of the membership – we might not always agree with their decisions, of course, but whist democracy might not be perfect, the other forms of governing might be a lot worse!

I have also been thinking about leadership in relation to the longevity of HM The Queen, our patron, as she celebrates her Platinum Jubilee. Many of you will be monarchists and many of you definitely will not be – but I have been reflecting on the woman who, through no fault of her own, was born into a position where she leads the nation as our head of state. And, whilst there are significant limitations to her leadership, I do see her as a leader. For me, the nature of the Queen’s leadership is in her ‘containment’ as she remains steadfast and consistent, and she exhibits one of the leadership qualities that is rarely talked about and that is when to say and do nothing.

As an extrovert physiotherapist, my skills in doing and saying nothing are sorely put to the test, but when I have managed it, it was for the best. This is not about avoidance but about a thoughtful and intentional choice that it is the best option. 

So as we celebrate our patron’s Platinum Jubilee, we could reflect on what can be learnt from her leadership, and think of the attributes we want to see in our next council members, so remember to make your vote count. How to vote.

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