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As a leader, your responsibilities are often numerous. You probably already appreciate that you need to manage and work effectively with others, set direction and ensure products and services are managed and improved over time. What you might not fully appreciate is the extent to which you must also be self-aware as a leader, especially in a clinical setting where people are often emotional or experiencing high levels of stress. We have some tips…

-Recognise your own values and principles and communicate them to others but also be aware that those might not be the same as those held by other individuals or groups. You may feel that some principles are critical to the performance of your practice but recognise that buy-in can be variable and not everyone will feel able to commit to the same extent. The less mainstream those values are, the more likely it is that they will engender fear or distrust from those who don’t share them. Recognise the impact this might have on any wide ranging change within your business. Being aware of where you and other team members are all broadly on the same page and where you differ widely from your team can help you judge the speed of implementation of any change.

-Identify your own strengths and limitations. If you are not a ‘people person’ but are brilliant at operational tasks, you either have to learn some new people skills or delegate responsibility for this aspect of management to someone else. Recognise how your limitations might affect other people in the team and impact on business performance.

-Know how you react under stress. Perhaps you lash out verbally or make impulsive decisions when stressed. By being aware of how you are going to react you will create an opportunity to reflect before you act or at the very least be aware of the impact your behaviour might have had on others around you after the event.

-Understand that you have emotions and beliefs that can affect your decisions and how you behave. While we would all like to believe that we are rational, objective scientists, there will be very few of us who do not let our own prejudices, values and personal likes and dislikes influence our judgements. Seeking someone else’s opinion and being self-aware enough to recognise these emotional responses can improve our decision making and ensure there is more fairness in the judgements we make.

-Understand your own leadership style. Psychometric tests, 360 degree feedback, guided mentoring, further learning and observing other leaders can all help you appreciate your style and learn from others that do things differently. Ask for and obtain feedback from a variety of sources and develop an action plan.

-Take care of your own health. While meeting your practice commitments is important, as a leader you set an example and need to show your workforce that you can be effective at work and also value your own wellbeing and quality of life.