Leadership; Not Just for Managers

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Leadership; Not Just for Managers

by Christina Butterworth


I recently attended the NHS Health At Work Network’s annual conference to talk about leadership and was please with the feedback I received from delegates. Hopefully I have inspired a few more people to harness their leadership role on a day to day basis. The presentation highlighted that as nurses our ‘Code’ includes a standard on leadership: Provide leadership to make sure people’s wellbeing is protected and to improve their experiences of the healthcare system and that I have adopted the ethos of leadership in various aspects of my career. Hopefully some of these will resonate with you and we can start to build a professional that is proud to lead.

  • Career – I have viewed all of my occupational health nursing roles as career enhancement, ensuring that I learn from my experience, gain new skills and not be afraid to move on to other roles when an opportunity arises. The most important thing I learnt was that it was my choice to do what I did. Whether you aspire to be a specialist in one area of practice, move into research or take on a strategic role, you need to be lead your career.
  • Project – I have been told from day one that nursing is all about continuous improvement and therefore have had to lead on a number of projects, having learnt the skills from my managers and peers. I like structure and good project leadership has clear steps to follow; define the purpose, develop the baseline plan, engage with your team, set clear accountabilities and adjust your practice based on the role.
  • Service – Leading a OH services can be difficult as occupational health can be viewed as a ‘nice to have’ or a ‘cost to the business’


The focus is therefore demonstrating the value of the service and the effective use of the resources:

People – investing in performance of your staff

Budget – targeted to the health needs of the organisation, with investment in some innovation

Time – to develop the service

Change – Leading change is all about managing the three C’s – communication, collaboration and commitment

Process – Health and wellbeing at work is continuously changing and therefore so do the processes we use to deliver. One of the most common management methods is PDCA (plan–do–check–act or plan–do–check–adjust) used in business for the control and continual improvement of processes and products. I have added 2 other steps to take it from a management tool to a leadership tool:

Vision – the impetus to deliver to the best of your abilities

Celebrate – achievements


Like any other aspect of work and life, leadership is hard work and that is why I am planning my retirement and taking care of me.

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