#Blogtober: Learning from Mary Seacole

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08 / 10 / 2014 12.01am

By Zoe Nicholl

#Blogtober Day: Wednesday 8 October

I found myself replying to the chance of writing a blog for DoOD quicker than I could think rationally about it.  And as petrified as I felt when I got a reply I was excited to give it a go. So heart racing…hands shaking…I begin my first ever blog.  The next challenge – what to write about?!  I was inspired by the DoOD Project group's ‘safe place to stay sharp’ initiative which really got me thinking about what kind of practitioner I want to be. Cycling home from work on a Wednesday night my cogs started turning and I realised the possibilities of what I could write about were endless!

I’m nearing the end of 12 months studying on the Mary Seacole Programme – Leading Care 1 with the NHS Leadership Academy and with my final assignment looming I am in full reflective mode about the leader I want to be.  My biggest challenge at the start of the programme was getting comfortable with the notion that I am a leader; I don’t line manage a team of people which in the past to me seemed a pre-requisite for leadership. I’m quiet, I have a natural preference to work collaboratively rather than compete with others. How can I lead?  But then I had an epiphany – it went by the name of ‘distributed leadership’.  This is what I learned…

We are all leaders

Distributed leadership argues that there is no such thing as ‘ordinary’ people and no place for heroic leaders. Rather there are simply lots of people with unique skills.  When we are the appropriate person to lead on something we lead.  This has completely changed my thought processes!  If leadership is to have an awareness of the skills and strengths that I can contribute and to use them effectively that doesn’t seem so scary.  It’s exhilarating!  I suddenly feel free in my thinking and confident I can do this.  So I’ve been practising; steeling confidence to put myself forward in my role, voicing my thoughts and ideas, and questioning and challenging where previously I may have stayed quiet and frustrated.  I feel more effective at work, stronger and clearer on the responsibility I have in service of ensuring patients get the best care possible. I feel confident and it is noticed by my colleagues in the way that I behave and how I contribute at work, and it is appreciated. 

I am a leader in the NHS

Zoe Nicholl is an ODIL Facilitator at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and can be contacted via Twitter @zoe_nicholl, or via email address.

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