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Compassionate leaders know how others see them

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Leaders must know when to adapt their style for others, so they respond appropriately to issues that are affecting their team

Moving into a new role is scary: fact! Your colleagues will all have stories of the anxiety they felt when taking on a new role or starting a project. Stepping out of a familiar and safe environment into an unknown one is bound to make you feel uncertain.

You should recognise the skills you have, then consider how you can apply them in the new setting. You are already doing a lot of the right things, but probably haven’t realised it. You already lead and influence your patients, colleagues, family and friends; you now need to become more consciously and emotionally aware of how you are doing these things.

How to gain awareness

● Get yourself a mentor or a coach - they will give you some “me” time to think about how you are doing and reflect on difficult situations and how you handled them
● When did you last get feedback on your performance? Have you had a 360° appraisal? These excellent tools help you see how people perceive your actions, will help to build confidence and identify areas for development
● Get a network - are there others in your organisation in similar roles with whom you could meet and collaborate?
● Do you know your employer’s objectives, vision and values? If not, check out its website, speak to an executive director or ask to observe a board meeting. Find out about the strategic direction and speak with your line manager to identify links between your objectives and those of your employer. This will help you become aware of your organisation, not just your department
● Look after yourself - show yourself some compassion. As a leader, you will need to be resilient
● Find a safe place to practise skills and conversations - your coach/mentor could help you. It’s often useful to rehearse and test these out in a safe environment before using them. All great leaders have taken risks and felt the fear of failure but, by taking risks, we learn and grow

It’s important to focus not only on yourself and your behaviour, but also on how others may perceive you. To be effective you may have to adapt your style for differing audiences. To do this you will need to build your awareness of what others are thinking and feeling.

Compassionate leadership is about treating people well. Being an emerging compassionate leader is not about developing technical skills - it is about understanding yourself and those around you.

If we are aware of what is affecting us and our teams, and respond to it appropriately, each team member will do the same for others and patients will ultimately benefit.

Fiona Holt is an associate for the East Midlands Leadership Academy. She manages its emerging leaders programme and assists with the aspiring senior leaders programme

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