John has a senior leadership and clinical role in the NHS. In 2018 his employers identified him as one of the rising stars and put him on its programme for developing future leaders.

One workshop, delivered by the alitus team required the group to understand their own individual Myers Briggs profile and to explore why they each reacted in certain ways to particular situations. Afterwards, John also shared this learning with his peers and his team, helping them to understand why they act as they do. It helped him to understand the strength of working with people with different points of view. It also proved useful when recruiting new team members as he recognised that he needs people with different personality traits to create a strong team. For example, he could match his own strength of creativity and blue sky thinking with someone who was strong at paying attention to detail so that collectively, all the required skills and personality traits were within the team.

One of the outputs of this workshop was a pictorial of the MBTI ‘stress’ heads – one upright (an MBTI Type Head) and the other upside down (MTBI Stress head). The Stress head portrayed the things that will create stress for him, or get him in a spin, such as spreadsheets, details, micromanagement etc; the Type head showed what he enjoyed and his strengths such as creativity, curiosity, sociability etc. John displays this with pride in his office and it often proves a good talking point, helping people to understand where he is coming from and to discuss their likes and dislikes.

Later, John also attended an alitus confidence workshop looking at self-awareness and self-management. It encouraged him to become more self-aware and to notice what he needed to function well, his working style and how he could get the best out of every situation. He was encouraged to notice his approach and become more intentional. He recalls that he realised that sarcastic comments are not always helpful so he is much more mindful of what he says and how he says it now. The delegates were also encouraged to request feedback from people to help their continual development. John became clinical lead just before Covid struck and in his previous role he hadn’t needed to chair meetings. In his new role, chairing meetings effectively was crucial, and particularly in the online virtual world. He asked his trusted experienced PA to give him constructive feedback, on how he performed in meetings and together, they ensured that the meetings were effectively and efficiently chaired. Now John is able to pass this knowledge onto the next leaders coming through so he is also able to develop others.

John also had 5 coaching sessions with Bridget which he found extremely useful and insightful. The timing was good, they built an excellent rapport and he was able to be totally open about his challenges and how he was feeling. Together, they explored various issues and discussed solution options. He became conscious of the importance of self-care and came to understand what he needed to ensure he is in a good place and to notice unhelpful patterns, evaluate and take action. Examples of when he is looking after himself are that he takes a lunch break every day, he keeps his car clean from mud (as he has time to do it) and as he loves cooking he prepares his own lunch the night before. These are all markers of when he is in a good place. Exercise is also important for his wellbeing so he makes time to run at least twice a week. After starting the couch to 5K a couple of years ago, he progressed to a half marathon and had planned to do a 70km challenge in September. This event was cancelled due to Covid so he ran it in three separate sections. He loves running as it a good way to relax and unwind after a full on day at work. Obviously it has been a tough year for many people, particularly in the health service, and people often say to him, “I don’t know how you keep going, with everything that is thrown at you”. The answer is that he has learnt how to practise self-care.

Another aspect that was covered in his coaching sessions with Bridget was his leadership role in the department. His goals were to be an authentic leader and to create a strategy to develop a culture that would ensure the department’s success and efficiency.

Bridget helped him realise 3 key aims of leadership. Firstly, he needed to get the dynamics of the team right so there were complimentary talents and personality types to avoid stress and burnout of the team members. Over time, he has been able to turn an inadequately staffed department into one which is fully staffed with a good mix of traits and skills. Recognising this has made a huge difference to the functionality of the department.

Secondly, in order to make the team work better, they need to share some high level goals and views. They all bought into the strategy that was to offer a quality diagnostic service and they are making good progress.

Thirdly, although John has always had a good understanding of peoples’ strengths and weaknesses, Bridget helped him develop this further, whereby he encourages team members to play more to their strengths which will help them be happier and more effective. A key enabler of this was the personal StrengthFinders exercise he did, helping him to understand his own strengths and how he can use them to best effect. For example, when he walks around the department talking to his staff, finding out all about them, that’s actually his nurturing strength working in practise. John was so impressed with the StrengthFinders book; he’s even been known to give a copy to one of his team for Christmas!

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