Thinking OT

Thoughts from Harrison Training and the occupational therapy world

Posts Tagged ‘leadership

Online Training? Your Thoughts…

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I am looking at what people’s preferences are regarding accessing training online. Can you help?  The more information we have, the better we can tailor our courses to suit your needs.

There are 7 very short multiple choice questions here which will take literally seconds to complete.

Thank you.

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Challenge What I Think

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Changing What We Think

I thought was going to write about the NHS Confedration’s consultation paper, and looking in particular at the consortia that service purchasers, previously known as GPs, will be obliged to join.  I might get onto that later.

Instead I got distracted by a curious search that has come up on the blog stats.  It read;

“Challenge what I think”

Someone had searched for “Challenge what I think” and Google, in its infinite algorithmic wisdom sent them here.

That set in motion a chain of thought.  How readily do we open ourselves to being challenged in what we think?

The two topics are not entirely disconnected.  The angle I was contemplating on NHS reform was that it is easy to get stuck in resistance, anger and opposition.  We might rail against the system on the basis that it is

  • Wasteful
  • A broken promise
  • Unnecessary
  • Politically motivated
  • Unworkable
  • Meddling
  • Unwelcome change

or we can recognise that the march of this reform is inevitable.  Once we do that then the challenge is not to change the system or the political tide, but to look to ourselves and change how we are going to respond to it and engage with that change.

Note the word “Respond” as opposed to “React”

For those who are employed within the NHS, then we need to consider our roles within our teams.  How can we bring greater value, not just in pounds and pence, but in contribution?  What skills can we tap into to make our contributions more meaningful?

This has motivated the previous posts about self-effectiveness, or self leadership.  How can we position ourselves as being central to a team’s effectiveness, but not in a destructive way that undermines others, but constructively, helping to support and improve the whole.

For independent practitioners, how are you going to position yourselves in order to market your services to a larger number of smaller purchasers?  What do you need to do to demonstrate utility, effectiveness and ensure (to use the current buzzword) improved outcomes.

The current uncertainty needs us to remain adaptable.  It might mean getting to grips with social media – and the momentum that is now seen within social media and occupational therapy is very exciting.

It might mean, depending on how the consultation goes, that we need to be much more commercial in selling ourselves.

For some, let’s be realistic, it might mean looking for new roles altogether.

All of this needs us to be open to be challenged about the way we think.

We need to break the well worn patterns of X leads to Y and therefore Z applies. Experience shapes our responses so that if we find ourselves facing a situation we anticipate the outcome will the same as last time.  That can often drive how we respond.

And yet the outcome, to some extent, is shaped by our intervening response.  What if we choose, therefore, a different response?

What options have we got to select from?

What responses have we not tried previously and how might they serve us, and our service users and clients, better?

What new responses can we create for ourselves?

For more on this consider the issue of heuristics – there is a good summary on Wikipedia, right here.

Managing Conflict in Occupational Therapy

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Harrison Training rolled out their Managing Conflict in Occupational Therapy course earlier this week.  This continues the development of Harrison’s interest in NHS and health care management skills training.

It became apparent that we all experience conflict within our work.  That is not surprising.  Conflict is in all that we do, whether professionally or socially.  We need to recognise where the potential for conflict lies and what our likely responses to it will be.

The mindmap shown above is one of the training resources that we used.  We highlighted nine types of conflict and then explored how they might arise within healthcare work, whether between colleagues, different levels of organisational hierarchy or with our clients.

We were able to explore typical responses and strategies to unblocking conflicts and also explore how our own actions often contribute to the conflict at hand.  The language we use, how we perceive ourselves within a conflict and who we speak to about it can all shape the destiny of any given situation.

The shift from blaming one another to an appreciation of how we might all be contributing to a problem is often a very powerful.  It makes the conflict safer to discuss and resolve.

By providing conflict awareness skills, team members can understand and anticipate possible conflict and where it might arise.  The result is that when it does emerge we are not taken by surprise and we have a range of lenses through which to perceive the problem.  That, coupled with practical strategies for resolution can help to cut the cost of conflict within our teams and organisations.

The course was very well received and prompted a great deal of discussion – the whole day felt like one massive conversation.

NHS Cuts, Budgets and That Thing Called Leadership

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Leadership needs to be inside out, not back to front.

With the imminent election, and even more imminent budget, the future funding of the NHS, and possible NHS spending cuts is a real hot topic.

In my previous post I highlighted the NHS Confederation’s report on Rising to the Challenge.

I have just been recapping their fascinating series on leadership from Spring 2009.

The fact that there are going to be massive cuts and the need for efficiency drives within the NHS is a given.  It is going to be unavoidable, as it will be in any other public sector.  What is not clear is how the system, and the individuals within it, will respond to those changes.

It is a time for leadership to come to the fore on a corporate and individual basis.

Leadership needs to be inside out, not back to front.

What is back to front leadership?

Back to front leadership is reactionary knee jerkism.  Back to front leadership only looks ahead at what is to come and reacts to it.

It is like reading the last page of a novel and guessing what might happen in the other 250 pages for yourself to fit with the conclusion you have just seen.

It is reactionary and often misguided.  The steps that are taken might match the predicted outcome (reduced costs) but may make no sense along the way.

Inside out leadership is different.

It still sees what the big picture is – there is no self deception or self comforting delusion here.  However it then works from the inside outwards to ensure that the necessary re-organisation fits the outcome and is consistent and coherent throughout the organisation.

This is much more challenging.  It requires the ability of managers and leaders (very different roles by the way) to be able to communicate, reassure, be honest and yet still move the team forward.  It takes courage to make those unattractive decisions.  There is no room here for procrastination or avoiding tough decisions and the subsequent conflict that will arise.

These leadership traits are not simply required in those we follow or look to for guidance and decision-making.  We can all develop leadership qualities ourselves and, as we do so, then we strengthen our own positions within our teams, employment but also within our personal lives and decision making.

Personal leadership also needs to be inside out, not back to front.

As we challenge ourselves to face up to several years of turmoil within the NHS , we have a choice.

We can read the writing on the wall and despair.  Maybe some will just give up, or others will keep a low profile hoping not to be noticed in any cutbacks.  That is the back to front approach.

The inside out approach to self leadership will be to look at ourselves.

What is it that we do really well?

Where can we improve?

What value and importance do we offer to our clients?

What value and importance do we derive for ourselves from what we do?

What is it that really fires us up?

Where do you want to be in say 3 to 5 years time, rather than where do you think the system will leave you in 5 years time?

These are all internal questions but they will have a profound impact and shape your external presentation.

If you are sure of why you do what you do, and if you have a vision for your career which is rooted to your values then you will be seen as someone to be kept hold of, and even promoted as and when opportunities continue to arise.

People will see you as bold, courageous.  You will be called inspirational.  People will turn to you for your opinion and guidance.

You become sought after and increasingly central to your team or organisation.

You will not avoid the tough times ahead but will be better positioned to roll with them, take the blows and carry on forward instead of falling into despair.  This resilience will, again, position you as a natural leader within your organisation as a result of developing your internal self leadership characteristics.

Here at Harrison Training we are continuing to expand our leadership skills training program for occupational therapists and other health care workers at all levels of seniority.  Let us know if this is something that you would like to bring into your organisation, or access personally, to help you and your people rise to the challenges that are to come.

The OT’s Role in Helping The NHS Rise To The Challenge

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If you have not yet read the NHS Confederation’s report “Rising to the Challenge” then take the time to do so.

The NHS Confederation is the voice for NHS leadership. Their report is a call to the vying political parties about how they should approach NHS policy after the imminent election.

The whole report is only 20 pages.  The report offers some reassurance that the right noises are being made by the professions leaders.  Of course, whether they are heard or not remains to be seen.

Consider, though, this excerpt;

“Patients and groups of patients need more support to manage their own conditions.  National policy can help by commissioning training and education, evaluation of programs and research to support new approaches.  however most of this has to be local and may be organised by patients or social enterprises.  It could include:

  • telecare and homecare services
  • faster procurement of aids and home adaptations
  • more responsive rehabilitation services that are more accessible to both patients and professionals”  page 12 Rising to the Challenge

With all of that in mind, it seems clear to us, that this call, together with Gordon Brown’s call for greater reablement service provision could place occupational therapy at the very front of health care reform in the near future.

Are you ready for that?

What Does Leadership in OT Mean?

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In an earlier article I wrote a review of other OT blogs that we, here, at Harrison Training read. 

One of my favourites is the Salford University OT Educational blog.  The blog works becasue it expands diverse thoughts into debates.  A great example is this article on a recent leadership event the University hosted.

The author, Heather, concludes that

“occupational therapists need to be encouraged to lead but that they should have greater awareness of the types of challenge they face in the NHS and Social Care so that they lead consciously and effectively overcoming professional and gender discrimination.”

The discussion, and debate grows within the comments attached to that blog and please do go and read them and contribute.

The challenge that is presented is trying to understand just what leadership means in an OT context?  What elements of leadership, if any, are relevant to NHS and Social Care in particular?

Indeed, what are we talking about when we talk about leadership?

Leadership is not something that only those in charge require.  We all display elements of leadership characteristics in various aspects of our life –  it would seem very difficult to have a successful therapeutic relationship without having a degree of leadership.  How can we, as a profession, further identify and refine those skills to benefit our clients, employers and also enable us to work in ways which are truer to ourselves?

I recommended, in my response to the original post, two books.

The first is “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey.  It is perhaps the book on leadership from within the individual. 

The second book I would recommend is “Self Coaching Leadership” by Angus McLeod.  This is a much slimmer and lighter introduction to the concept of leadership, but no less potent for it.