How To Lead In Challenging Times

Being a leader in the NHS is never easy.  Just ask anyone who has ever done it.  At the same time it is important to recognise that challenging times raise the bar.  When faced with challenging times it is all too easy to lose sight of what is to be delivered.  The pressure to deliver short term can easily result in a knee jerk reaction.


Yet it is often during the most challenging times that the real leaders emerge.  It is all too easy to believe that one person has all the answers when this is never the case. It really is a team effort that delivers success, even if one person is being the figurehead.


So what should leaders do differently when leading in challenging times?


Face Up To Reality


It might be hugely tempting to pretend that all is going well and problems will disappear.  This might make you feel good short term.  On the other hand it is not a long term recipe for success.  Sooner or later you will have to face up to reality.  If you leave it too late you may well end up missing the opportunity to put things right.


Work Out Priorities


You might have heard the term it never rains but it pours.  In the context of leading this probably means that there are multiple things that need attention.  It would be nice to tackle everything right now.  Yet you know that this is never possible.  Some things will be the real priorities, while others will be things that score points but don’t tackle important issues.


Don’t Pretend You Have All The Answers


You probably have many good ideas and some answers.  On the other hand if you fall into the trap of believing you have all the answers you are deluding yourself.  You have your strengths, others have their strengths.  The important thing is to recognise when others have better ideas and answers than you.


Be Realistic


Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Organisations don’t become brilliant overnight.  Have your vision, have your plans and have a reality check.  People will get behind you if they think what you are proposing is achievable.  If they think your plans are pie in the sky they will simply switch off.


Listen A Whole Lot More


Listening is the way you get real contribution and engagement.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can talk your way to engagement.  People want to be listened to.  They want to feel like they have their say, even if they know not every idea will be implemented.


Set Milestones


Success is a series of small steps rather than being one piece of brilliance.  Milestones are a great way of measuring progress.  They also give you the basis of taking corrective action.


Test Before Rolling Out


Anything new or different needs to be fully tested before rolling out.  It is always better to do this on a small scale, assess the impact, adjust as necessary and then act.


Take Care Of People


There are plenty of organisations who talk about people being their most important asset.  Few back up the rhetoric with action and behaviours.  Yes people will have their worries and anxieties during periods of uncertainty.  You are a leader because you have learned how to continue to thrive no matter how challenging things are.  If you look after your people they will go that bit further to help you succeed.


Goals and Achievements help healthcare organisations deliver great performance through people.  Learn more here.