For me, as an Allied Health Professional (AHP), leadership means striving to make a difference in the lives of others. It means believing in yourself and those you work with, loving what you do and inspiring others with energy and enthusiasm.
Until “LETS TALK ABOUT DEMENTIA”, you have probably not heard too much about AHPs. Our endeavours and accomplishments don’t feature regularly on the national news. Yet AHPs are making a difference in the care and treatment of people with dementia every day, not just in the National Health Service but in local authorities, the voluntary sector, educational systems and governmental departments, volunteer groups, huge cities and rural communities.
When most people think of leaders, they recall great historical figures such as Florence Nightingale or Sir Winston Churchill or they think of “big names” in the news, such as Nelson Mandela, who still commands a spotlight even after his passing in 2013.
Yet there are leaders working in every organisation, at every level, large and small. Leadership is all around us every day in all facets of our lives – our families, schools, universities, communities, churches and social clubs as well as in the world of health and social care.
I am working with allied health professionals who are dementia champions, who are looking to see how we work with the link workers for post diagnostic support, who are integral to Alzheimer Scotland AHP dementia expert group, have become a “dementia friend” and are leading on small test of change within their own sphere of influence.
The qualities that make AHPs good leaders can be effective whether one is leading a strategic multidisciplinary group, a uniprofessional team, an integrated clinical team, a group of undergraduate students or a clinical group intervention.
Definition of Leadership
Leadership is an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes and outcomes that reflect their shared purposes (Daft, 2008)
The Hallmarks of Great Leadership
Rudy Giuliani (2002), the former mayor of New York, reflected on what it takes to make a great leader. Some of his principles include:
- develop and communicate strong beliefs
- accept responsibility
- surround yourself with great people
- study, read and learn independently
Giuliani makes the key point that leadership does not just happen. It can be learned and developed through practice as well as by studying the leadership ideas and behaviour of great leaders.
The best leaders, at all levels in any organisation, are those who are genuinely interested in other people and find ways to bring out the best in them. In addition, today’s leaders value change over stability, empowerment over control, collaboration over competition, diversity over uniformity and integrity over self-interest.
Coaching has emerged partly to help people through the transition to a new paradigm of leadership. Coaches encourage leaders to confront their own flaws and hang ups that inhibit effective leadership, then help them develop stronger emotional and interpersonal skills.
This brings up an interesting question: how do AHPs become effective leaders? My experience is that leadership depends on self-discovery. So I ask: are you prepared to look inward, to confront your own flaws, and learn?
Daft RL 2008 The Leadership Experience
Giuliani RW 2002 Leadership Time Warner Paperbacks
Shelagh Creegan – Associate AHP Director for Mental Health and Learning Disabilities
As an occupational therapist working in the National Health Service in Scotland, Shelagh has 31 years clinical experience working with adults with severe and enduring mental health conditions. For the past 10 years, she has been professional lead OT in the Dundee General Adult Psychiatry Service. Shelagh also has 4 years experience in an overarching strategic AHP leadership role in NHS Tayside’s Mental Health Service.