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Scholar's Report

Leadership Scholarship: Becoming a leader: A journey of leadership discovery

2016/76 - Ione De Brito-Ashurst

Abstract

Introduction

The award of a year leadership development scholarship was amazing but at the same time frightening. John Quincy Adams said “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”. Leadership requires the ability to critically evaluate the involved process and outcomes of a team on the path to achieve a shared goal. These qualities and traits I felt I did not possess. The question was: could a year of this leadership development give me such abilities? In this report, I describe my goals for the year and how these were achieved through courses, networking and practice. I report on my experience, gained knowledge and a project to improve patient care. 

Background

I am a dietitian by profession and my current role is Nutrition Lead for the Trust, my work involves developing strategies, policies in line with National Health Service and leading the dietetic team. I recently started a new role in addition to my Nutrition lead position. I became the Governance and Safety (G&S) Lead for the Rehabilitation & Therapies directorate. Consequently, my main aim for this leadership development was to improve my confidence as a leader and to explore my capabilities to its full potential. To achieve this aim my objectives were self-awareness, social awareness, ability to delegate and being more perceptive. 

Learning and development

I attended a series of courses throughout the year. The first course was the Leading Change and Organisational Renewal (LCOR). This was also when I met all the other scholars. The LCOR course was a holistic approach that although focussing on leading changes, it helped me to see how I can improve my leadership style. This was followed by the Co-consulting groups. This day meeting was an opportunity to see all the scholars again all the scholars and catch up with our progress. 

My third experience was the Westminster Experience. This day was based on communication and its impact. The day was stressful but you felt energised for working at such higher level where your voice was heard. This was followed by the RADA – Communications Skills Training. This was an enjoyable course about improving your communication skills with an actor. We were reminded that central to communication are the interpersonal skills of listening with empathy, focusing upon your ability to be persuasive and delivering interpersonal feedback amongst others. 

Equally amazing was the Authentic leadership - Purpose to Impact Plan. I thoroughly enjoyed the course. As part of the course we also had coaching sessions. 

My final experience was the Leadership in patient safety Programme and my visit to the Massachusetts general Hospital in Boston, USA. The Patient safety program was impressive and I have learned a lot about safety. Although a very intensive course over the weekend and long hours, it was a memorable experience. 

Patient care improvement project

In the Trust, we have started rotation of junior dietitians (band 6). This rotation is not well planned and thus, not conducive to learning. Therefore, my patient improvement project was to develop a “Competency-based training program for the band 6 dietitians”. My chosen approach for this project was Action Learning.

A dietetic group of 5 senior dietitians was formed, the action learning set team. The set members discussed their views on current training but it was decided that the team needed to hear from the trainees. Therefore, a focus group with the band 6s dietitians showed essentially that they felt they were not learning and there was poor teaching, organisation and planning of the year. Subsequently, compiling all their views and planning from the set team members a competency-based training program has been written for the dietitians. This will be implemented in January 2017. 

Reflection and shared learning

This year has been a constant learning with opportunities for leadership development. I have attended numerous courses and feel that I have improved enormously. Personally, I do feel more confident in my ability to lead. Interestingly, colleagues and members of my team have also noted the change. I frequently remember the RADA motto “decision makers make decision with decision makers”. My learning has not only contributed to improve my work but has also being shared with colleagues and my team. I have run a leadership half a day session for my team. In addition, we also have an annual dietetic team meeting away day. I took this opportunity to share with the team my purpose to impact plan. This was something to help them think about the future and make plans to achieve their dreams. 

Conclusion

Receiving the award for the leadership scholarship was a major achievement in itself. I felt apprehensive about interacting with other scholars that I thought were leaders and confident in their ability. My leadership question was: Am I capable of being a leader? Can I inspire people? That was my aim for the year. Now that the year is finished, I feel that I have personally had a huge amount of personal development. I feel privileged and very proud to be a Florence scholar. I have achieved my aims. I feel energised to continue. Interestingly, before this year I was very reluctant to leave dietetics. I felt that my strength was clinical and I would no longer contribute to patient care. My thoughts are changed. I feel ready for further challenges and I am now seeking more responsibilities and new roles. As a leader I feel that my contribution to patient care will no longer be individual but it can have an impact at national and even higher level. I am ready to progress in the leadership ladder.