#Physio17: Leadership is the way ahead, say health experts, and inspire audience with thoughts and ideas

During an inspiring panel discussion at this year’s Physiotherapy UK conference, three health leaders advised delegates on how to develop good leadership skills.


Public health expert Sir Muir Gray and consultant physiotherapist Victoria Dickens. Photo: Simon Hadley

Public health expert Sir Muir Gray said that the profession needed to develop a culture of stewardship that encouraged future leaders.

He told the audience: ‘Leadership differs from management because leadership is about changing culture and management is about working within a culture.

‘For me, a health service consists of three elements: structure, system and culture. I think physiotherapy leaders should be thinking about cultural change.’

Understand your impact

Meanwhile, CSP chief executive Karen Middleton emphasised that everyone has the potential to become a leader.

‘Anyone can be a leader and anyone can exhibit leadership skills, but I think some training and education to help you understand that leadership is important,’ she said.

Delegates heard that, in her own career, Ms Middleton benefited from both formal and informal leadership training, as well as reading many books on the subject and making use of a coach and dlfferent mentors.

‘The key is understanding yourself and the impact you have on others,’ she said.

‘If you don’t do that, you will constantly see the fault in others and not appreciate the part you have to play when things go wrong. Or appreciate the contribution you have made when things go well.’

She suggested that the best leaders were able to adapt their leadership styles to different situations and influence people by telling good stories.

‘Anticipating the future is vital for a leader. And that ties in with creating a vision of what that future should look like and creating a narrative that you are trying to lead people towards.’

Advice from a clinical director

Victoria Dickens, a consultant physiotherapist and clinical director of trauma and orthopaedics at Salford Royal Trust, shared her top tips for becoming an effective leader.

She told delegates: ‘Make sure you have data to back things up. Sometimes you need to tell a story and make it personal, but don’t go into meetings with only anecdotal evidence.

‘Be resilient, bounce back and don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Talk to people, communicate and use other people’s experiences. You can’t do it by yourself – you need a team, so surround yourself with people.

‘And remember that if you have happy staff, you’ll have a productive workforce.’

She said it was important to lead by example and she never asks someone to do something that she wouldn’t be prepared to do herself.

Author: Robert Millett

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