Alicia Ridout, Conference Programme Committee member for the 2016 College of Occupational Therapists annual conference, on management and leadership development. Follow Alicia on Twitter.
Some years ago I was part of a year-long leadership course that had a massive impact on me, my view of the world, and my responses to things that were happening at work – it challenged the comfortable groove into which I had slipped.
I was ploughing the same furrow, in the same way, over and over again, day in day out. The furrow was not bad by any means. It was straight, had consistently good characteristics and delivered all that was asked of it.
After a fairly gruelling residential and lots of psychometric tests, I returned to the real world less sure of my sense of direction. I listened to ‘experts’, read the books on the reading list, evaluated new strategies and approaches.
I changed my response to challenges at work and tried to better understand others view of me, taking more responsibility for improving my own communication. I was time poor (studying, kids, work and the dog!) but the support of colleagues in my action learning set helped me to make lasting changes.
The course gave me new tools and opportunities to try out new things, evaluate the outcomes and get others feedback on my progress. Love it or hate it, we all found ourselves standing looking at each other’s furrows, supporting each other to test new approaches to ploughing!
Farming techniques aside, I want you to step back from your furrow for a moment.
Consider a leader you admire and have a think about what they would observe.
What sources of challenge and support do you actively seek to improve your practice?
Are these translating into improvements/changes you feel are positive and visible to others?
The challenge provided by others’ viewpoints is essential for me to keep a balanced perspective; service users, carers, clinicians, academics or those directing the ‘business’ of health and care, together with their views help me sense check and rebalance my approach. Looking in the mirror is not always easy, but it’s a starting place.
The Rt Hon Alistair Burt, MP and Minister for State for Community and Social Care will be addressing the COT 2016 conference. He recently launched Future in Mind which aims to support improvements for young people with mental health needs. He highlighted the need for leadership locally and nationally and our profession are well placed to pick up such challenges, our dual training proving that much needed holistic approach. As we face significant resource changes in all areas of our work, we can lead the way with technology and other innovative approaches to care.
Ploughing the same furrow is no longer an option if we are to optimise the skills and expertise we have as Occupational Therapists to help the ever growing needs of people accessing services. We need to be able to communicate this and define new routes to delivery.
For those of us due to meet in Harrogate in June, it is an opportunity to support each other, to reflect on our practice, learn from others and see what opportunities there may be for ploughing new furrows.