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Doctors at Work Podcast.

Episode #92

How to be an authentic leader. With Ross McIntosh

Mat Daniel

29/05/2024

Leadership is a key quality that all doctors need to posses. But sometime it is challenging to lead in a way that sits comfortably with you, whilst accepting the external reality. In this podcast, Ross tells me that authentic leadership is about specifically choosing the best response for a situation, based on what matters to each person as an individual. We talk about values, psychological flexibility, and he shares his top tips.

Listen at https://matdaniel.net/podcast/https://open.spotify.com/show/1j8uLaUU1g5bYTRVuwUX7j?si=672ec26a73164d7fhttps://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/doctors-at-work/id1701284564; or watch on www.youtube.com/@dr-coach/videos.

You can find out more about Mat at www.MatDaniel.net.
Production: Shot by Polachek

Podcast Transcript

Mat: [00:00:00] Welcome to Doctors at Work. My name’s Mat Daniel, and this podcast is about doctors careers. It’s part of my mission to help doctors create successful and meaningful careers. Today we’re talking about authentic leadership. Now leadership is a key quality that all of us as doctors need to possess, but sometimes it’s challenging to lead in a way that sits comfortably with you whilst having to accept the external reality that is.

In this podcast, Ross McIntosh tells me that authentic leadership is about specifically choosing the best response for a situation Based on what matters to each person as an individual and we talk about values psychological flexibility And he shares his top tips for authentic leadership for doctors at work.

Welcome ross. Tell me a little bit about yourself

Ross: Well, thank you. Thank you very much matt. So I am ross mcintosh. I’m a freelance organizational and coaching [00:01:00] psychologist And i’ve been doing that for about 10 years You Before that I had a career in the civil service, in the UK civil service. I was ended up in senior HR roles in the department for business, but then I jumped ship and set up myself in private practice.

I specialize in the application of acceptance and commitment therapy to the workplace. And I’m in a. research practitioner partnership with Dr. Paul Flaxman at City University of London, where we co design and deliver different interventions based upon this ACT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. And a little bit more about me, I guess I should mention I also host a podcast.

And mine is called People Soup, and that’s aimed to bring this acceptance and commitment therapy to a wider audience, basically to adults in the workplace. That’s my thing, using behavioral science to support adults [00:02:00] at work, to help them in building their awareness, their authentic action, their adaptability, and their well being.

Mat: Thank you very much, Ross. And the topic for us today is authentic leadership. What is authentic leadership?

Ross: Now that’s, that’s a really, really good question and there’ll probably be many answers. And I see it sometimes in the workplace, Matt, that people say, well, they almost use it as an excuse. They say, oh, imagine we’ve got a boss called Bob.

Oh, that’s just the way Bob is. He tells it how it is. He’s blunt. He’s direct. and you can never change him. And that’s not what I mean by authentic leadership, just being yourself at one level and not really being aware of who you might be impacting upon or who you might be upsetting. It’s a more far more [00:03:00] nuanced thing.

For me, it’s about being mindful of the context around you, what’s happening around you, and adapting your authentic style to respond in a way that’s most appropriate whilst representing you. So that’s kind of part of it. There’s a researcher called Dr. Fiona Beddows Jones who said, who summarized it really nicely for me, She said it’s doing the right thing whilst being yourself.

And I quite like that as a starting point for what is authentic leadership. Because the way I conceptualize it, and we’ll probably come on to this through, through acceptance and commitment therapy or ACT. is by building three specific skills that I think can really help us show up in the workplace as the best version of ourselves.

Mat: Well, we’ll come on to the three skills in a moment. But I can just rewind because you know, for me, I would have said, authentic leadership, that’s about you being [00:04:00] yourself. And you know, and if you are stroppy, and if you are bad tempered, or if you’re altruistic, or if you have high expectations, That’s kind of what I would have said also.

So I suppose it begs a question of, what does authenticity mean? Maybe that’s where we should be starting.

Ross: Yeah, but maybe, maybe what it doesn’t mean, I don’t think it means just being your irritable self, if that’s your kind of one of your, your characteristics, or being your altruistic self also, because altruism can go almost too far sometimes at the expense of the individual.

So I think it’s Being yourself. Now let me, let me try that again. It’s being, it’s being the most appropriate version of yourself to suit the context in which you find yourself, where you’re not overly influenced by perhaps that unhelpful stuff that the mind produces, and you can really let your authentic light shine.

[00:05:00] As I say again, depending on the context. That’s very important for me in this definition of authenticity. You’re not just this one note. That’s almost like put up as an excuse. Oh, this is just how I am. I’m really irritable. Oh, this is just how I am. I’m really altruistic. You can modulate that to respond to the context in which you’re in.

And keep your own personal values uppermost. Keep, keep what matters to you really uppermost. And acting as like a beacon for how you’re behaving. Because we’ll all, we’ll all face different contexts throughout the day, particularly doctors. Goodness me. You’ll go from Various, many, many events throughout the day, and with each patient, or with each colleague, or with each, I don’t know, each interaction, we don’t often afford the time to think, well, how could I best respond in this, this moment?

Quite often [00:06:00] in the workplace, we’re on autopilot. We’re responding in the way we’ve always responded to that particular stimulus. And it’s just helping us become a bit more aware of how we are showing up and how we are impacting on others. Because sometimes you can lose sight of that.

Mat: Okay, so I’ve got the idea that that every person is multifaceted, you know, I can be bad tempered, I can be altruistic, I can be nice, I can be short, um, et cetera.

And I think most people are capable of doing all of that, but I like this idea of choosing, you know, what, what’s the best for me. response. And you talked about earlier about this idea of, you know, an unhelpful thoughts turning up. So tell me how, how does that get in the way of good leadership?

Ross: Really, really great question, Matt.

Yeah. That in our world going on between our ears, those thoughts like, um, I’m not sure if I [00:07:00] trust that, that colleague, or I’ve got stuff going on outside of it, that’s really preoccupying my mind. Or perhaps, Maybe I’m not good enough to do this. Maybe, maybe I’m not clever enough to do this next thing. All of those thoughts can show up.

Quite often, as humans, we experience those thoughts, and those thoughts like that are typically designed, or we’ve typically evolved, to have thoughts like that to protect us. But sometimes they can show up and really derail our behavior. We can give them our full focus and attention and treat them as, as if they’re 100 percent true and 100 percent worthy of our full attention, which can derail us from our Hopefully, more authentic style behavior, we can lose sight of what matters to us.

I mentioned personal values, we can lose sight of what matters to us, those personal [00:08:00] values that can be our beacon during, during tranquil times and during turbulent times. We can really lose sight of those and be, be gripped or overly influenced by this unhelpful stuff that our minds produce.

Mat: So I mean, how does one deal with that?

Because let’s say I’m imagining a situation where. So, say I’m involved in a project. Yeah. Yeah. I’m very, very, very passionate about. Um, and I like sort of this idea of a best response, but let’s say there’s something I’m really passionate about and then something else happens related to that project that kind of kiboshes it takes it in a different direction, sort of threatens it.

Um, and I guess, I mean, I’ll tell you what would go through my mind, what would go through my mind. I’m going to say, Oh, you know, why do I bother? This is just too much like hard work. Like, you know, I’m going to leave you guys to it. And, you know, I’ll go and do something else. Yeah. Um, and that’s. But that’s a bit weird because it’s something that I’m kind of passionate about.

So I’m passionate about this, but then some [00:09:00] other stuff turns around and I kind of say, oh, this is too much of my hard work. So I’m going to, I’m going to leave you to it. And is that, is that, I think that’s kind of those unhelpful thoughts that contradict that, you know, my value might be, this is I’m passionate about, but the fact that things are not going the way that I think it should be going, then that would be, I might be tempted to say, you know what, I’m just going to leave you to it.

Yeah. So I very much understand those. And I very much understand the idea of, you know, you talked about choosing the best response and the best response still might be walking away, or the best or best response might be, actually, this is something I’m really passionate about. And yes, all of this stuff’s a bit shitty, but I am really passionate about it.

Therefore, you know, I will do X, Y, and Z. Is that sort of the kind of thing that you’re talking about?

Ross: Yeah, yeah. I think you’ve summarized, I love that example because I think you’ve summarized it beautifully. So let’s just unpick that a little bit more, if I may.

Mat: Yeah.

Ross: So you’ve got this project you’re passionate about.

It really has [00:10:00] purpose and meaning for you. And then, as ever, during projects, The landscape changes, the context changes, and maybe someone makes a suggestion and everyone adopts that, whatever it might be, and it feels like you’re no longer aligned with it. So the thoughts are, oh this isn’t what I thought it was, this is too much like hard work, I’m going to step away from that.

And that could mean, if you were just, Following those thoughts that you do step away from that project, and sometimes that will be the right thing. But sometimes what happens is we haven’t really thought it through. We’re not really bringing our full awareness to it. So sometimes it’s good just to stop and pause and think well, let’s just revisit this project to think what was it that really ignited me?

What gave it that passion for me? And think about, well, are there [00:11:00] ways I could adjust how I am to respond to this adjusted context of this project? Can I represent that in small ways in how I show up? And can I, can I find a way to re engage that still gives me that, that passion and still gives me that That personal meaning.

And it might be yes, and it might be no as well. It might be that you think, gosh, this has changed so drastically that I no longer feel aligned, so I’m going to step away. And that’s, that’s the difference. It’s bringing more awareness to it and noticing with a level of curiosity and a level of kindness to yourself.

Because if you’re just driven by that unhelpful stuff, like, oh, This is too much. It seems like too much hard work. It’s really misaligned with how I see this project. You might miss out on something that could. [00:12:00] once again become really meaningful for you. So it’s just becoming a bit more aware because life is so hectic.

Projects and workplaces are so hectic. I can’t imagine a role more hectic than a doctor, to be honest. And it’s just taking that moment to pause, which can be really useful for us. And also pausing to catch ourselves in the moment as well.

Mat: How does How does one pause? Yeah, because it’s it sounds really easy to say, oh, you know, Just don’t jump to conclusions.

Don’t say anything. Just sleep on it. Don’t send the email, you know, sort of Email sort of before you send it that kind of sounds really easy to do but but presumably it can’t possibly be because people do All the time, don’t they? You know, we’re in meetings all the time when people jump to conclusions or people make instant decisions or people fire emails that clearly are You know, from, from a place of anger slash disappointment, whatever it might be.

So, so, I mean, why is it so difficult for us to pause and [00:13:00] consider and be aware and make decisions consciously? It’s so much easier to just be an autopilot, isn’t it?

Ross: Yeah, an autopilot can save us time. Okay. We, we are connecting the dots based on our previous experience, our beliefs, our personal values.

And sometimes you’re missing out pieces of the jigsaw though. So how can we pause? It’s, it’s building a new habit. And I would distinguish between a macro pause and a micro pause, and they both take practice. Because quite often in workplaces, we are rewarded for how quickly we’re going, how many things we achieve in a day, or how many patients we interact with a day, perhaps.

Or what’s the waiting list like? We’re driven by speed and pace. So we’re not automatically directed towards that pause. A pause can seem a little bit like, well, pauses for softies. I just keep going. [00:14:00] I just keep going. That’s how I manage. But in a pause, say if a doctor engages with a coach, for example, that is kind of like a big pause where a doctor can consider who they are, how they want to be, how they want the future to be, and what they need to do to start making those changes.

Uh, a micropause is more catching yourself in that moment, like you say, not pressing send on that email, or in a meeting before you go, ah, that’s ridiculous. Just pausing yourself and thinking, is this the topic I need to raise now? Is this the way I need to raise it? And just getting more adept at creating a bit more agility about how we’re showing up.

Mat: And, you know, I think this, this. This, I think, is an issue for us as doctors, and if I think how, how we trained as doctors, you know, when you first start training, you don’t understand everything’s hard work, sort of, you have to think [00:15:00] and consider, so your thinking’s very slow, and then as you become more and more experienced, you do get used to thinking very quickly, and as I say, making decisions very quickly, and I think, I think that happens in, in all areas of medicine, that huge chunks of medicine, maybe not all, but lots of medicine, it’s all about pattern recognition.

It’s all about sort of, you know, that kind of the heuristic, the shortcuts, you know, the, they’re asking a few pertinent questions, you know, doing a few pertinent tests and, you know, that kind of, you know, confirms the refutes. And, you know, there’s algorithms we have in, in our minds that, that sort of, that we automatically work to, that’s very, very quickly sort of help us, you know, reach a decision.

Um, and usually sort of that’s fine. But if I think in terms of, you know, in the clinical setting, I guess. what also happens as you become a senior doctor, you, you learn, if we’re going to talk about pattern recognition, you learn to recognize what, what isn’t typical of a pattern. Yeah. So, you know, if somebody comes in and, you know, I don’t know, you know, they’ve got [00:16:00] headache or chest pain or a rash or whatever, you’ll, you recognize a pattern as to what’s typical, but you’re also very quickly recognize what doesn’t fit into that pattern.

So that’s kind of quite, quite quick thinking. And the problem with that is we’re so used to thinking very quickly. Then when it comes to leadership, and if I use that example with a project that’s at risk of being derailed, that, that, that slow thinking, slow decision making, I think that, that just isn’t normal for us as you, as you’ve kind of highlighted, because most of us that are clinicians are just so used to running all the time.

That’s sort of the idea of slowing micro pauses or even macro pauses, sort of that, that is so very, very far removed from, from how, you know, we, we typically work, but I like, I like sort of the, you know, the, the comments you made earlier about best response and still being you, because again, and if I work with that project example, it’s, you know, an okay, sort of, [00:17:00] there’s a, there’s a derailer and, you know, and I can, I can either opt out or not.

And I guess, I think. If we talk with the idea of authenticity, do I accept that as a derailer? That’ll depends on how that sits with me. So, for example, you know, if it was something with me, you know, equality and justice, they’re really big things for me. So if the derailer was something that that meant that things were not just, um, then you know, that, that there’s no way that I would accept that.

You know, I would walk away from a project like that. ’cause that would be. That would be something that would align with my value. Um, but if it’s kind of something that, that I don’t know, that, that maybe had a bit of a financial implication, um, you know, I probably wouldn’t care particularly about that. I can say somewhat, it costs a bit more or a bit less because you know, like it just, that just doesn’t matter to me.

Is that sort of what you mean about that kind of me adjusted and doing the best response that means that I can live with myself with whatever response I’ve chosen?

Ross: Yeah, yeah, [00:18:00] absolutely. Because it’s that awareness that if there’s something that kind of violates what really has meaning for you, what really matters to you, like equality and justice, and that enables you to make, it might be easy, it might be a difficult choice, but it enables you to potentially walk away from that project, and explain why.

And if it’s more about financial bottom lines, but you can still see the core qualities that are important to you, that equality, that justice, and others, I’m sure there’ll be, and you can engage that passion again, then, then it’s just resetting that trajectory for you, as the way you, you lead in that project.

Mat: I hope you’re enjoying the show. Please click subscribe so you’ll be notified when new episodes become available. This podcast is part of my mission to help doctors create successful and meaningful careers. You can be part of that mission too by forwarding this show to one person who you think [00:19:00] might benefit from listening.

Thank you. Now on with the show.

So we use the term authenticity. I mean, how, how does somebody know what matters to them and how does somebody know what values are? In fact, what are values?

Ross: Yeah, good question. Let’s, let’s take that last question, because this is one of the three core skills from ACT. I’d call it authentic action. And typically, with either a coaching client or a group of people, I’d be saying, what are the personal values that matter to you in your career, for example?

My definition would be the qualities of behavior that you most want to bring to life in your everyday interactions. Or in your everyday behavior. So the qualities of behavior that you’d [00:20:00] most like to bring to life every day. They have some resonance and some meaning for you. And there’s a distinction there in personal values.

It’s not, oh I must be that, or I should be that. It’s about thinking, well what really does matter to me? You mentioned justice and equality. Using them as a beacon for how you behave and how you show up in different environments. This is what I mean by authentic leadership and taking time to explore what your personal values might be.

Because we might say, oh, it’s this, this and this really quickly to say, but I’d like to go a bit deeper. I’d even maybe sometimes ask people a question. Imagine it’s your retirement party and the laws of physics and time have been suspended. And there are people at this party from throughout your career.

And a number of people make [00:21:00] different speeches about that. who you are, what you stood for, what would you really like to hear them say, what would you really appreciate and have meaning for you in what they say about who you are. And getting people to pause and think about that can really give some insights in my experience into what matters to them.

And it won’t just be that, well I should say that, or I must say that because I’m a doctor, or because of this is how it is. This is about thinking what personally What values personally really resonate and ignite you, for you, and those values can change. Typically, I find working with people, there’s a kind of a rich seam of values that go throughout their whole lives.

But sometimes with different life events, values can change. So it’s worth checking in on them to see whether they’re still appropriate for the, the context in which you’re in. [00:22:00] And then the challenge is how we use them to guide our behavior.

Mat: So it’s not like personality that’s fixed. That’s always the same, you know, talk about values.

You have many of them and they, and they change and they come into focus and disappear depending on the circumstances or something much more fluid than saying, you know, I’m an introvert and I’m always an introvert.

Ross: Yeah, I think, I think it’s fluid. I think, like I say, there may be some values I’m guessing.

And only guessing that your values of justice and equality have probably been with you a while, and they’ll probably be with you for a long period in the future. They, they feel like they’re really important to you. But other values we might want to introduce for a particular situation, a particular tricky interaction.

We might think, I’m going to bring in this value to of clarity, or I’m going to bring in this value of courage. So we’re just constantly reflecting on what will help be sharp [00:23:00] as the. the best version of myself. And sometimes we need to dial those up and down. For instance, one of my values is humour.

Humour. Bringing humour into training, into coaching, to help reframe different things. And I’m not saying I do like a comedy stand up routine. Sometimes humour used quite. sensitively can really help someone get a different perspective on something. But say if I was having a really serious conversation with a colleague where I was providing maybe some feedback on their behavior which wasn’t, um, really helpful in, for the team that they were working in.

If I introduced humor there, that would be really confusing and inappropriate. So it’s, it’s learning how to dial our values up. up and down in the way we behave. And similarly, it’s not always easy to move towards values that are important to us. Taking those [00:24:00] steps towards what matters. We might think that’s easy because it’s aligned with who we are.

Sometimes that’s really difficult, but it has that meaning and purpose for us.

Mat: So I’m thinking now, again, if we work with, with values, you know, most people would know that, that NHS is, is very stressed. And let’s sort of say, That, that, that a really high quality connection is really important to me or somebody else in medicine.

But the reality is that how it works is bang, bang, one in, one out, sort of trying to get people processed in inverted commas as quickly as possible. So some of these value might be, you know, high quality personal attention, but they find themselves working in a system that means that that’s just isn’t possible.

I mean, what, what happens then? Um, Transcribed

Ross: It’s difficult because it’s quite an individual thing, but I’d say There’s probably ways you could represent that value of connection in a small way. Okay. We’re not going to build deep relationships with [00:25:00] each person you see. So it’s balancing, but there’ll be ways that I would suggest only that individual could really identify, and that’s why maybe a coach could help them identify small ways to represent that value of communication that would serve them and help them feel that they’re exercising that value of connection, and also enhance the experience for their, for their patients, for the people they’re working with.

So I’d say it might be small ways, it might be really small things, like taking a pause before you go into the next room, just to kind of reset your own awareness.

Mat: What about conflict? So I mean, I said, I talked earlier, the dichotomy between something that was about justice and money, you know, let’s say that I find myself, you know, Um, in, in, in a project and, you know, I can’t, I can’t leave the project.

I have to stay there. Um, and, and, and, you know, and that, that project, let’s say that money’s important, [00:26:00] delivering stuff on time and on budget’s important, but, you know, equality is also important. And now it turns out that in a project, I can’t, I can’t deliver it financially and I can’t deliver it equitably at the same time.

I can only do one or the other equity, equities, equitableness. Equality, that’s, equality is important. Yeah. Projects on time and on budget, that’s important to me also. I can’t do both. So how, how do I, I’ve got these two values that now seem to be conflicting against each other. How do I handle that?

Ross: Yeah, I think it’s, again, just reflecting and thinking, is there a, is there a flex in your value of, um, equality?

Yeah. Could you flex that slightly? What you’d be, what you’d be prepared, you might say, prepared to tolerate or what you’d be content with in terms of equality. Maybe you’re not getting your 100 and percent [00:27:00] equality, but maybe you’re getting sort of 89. If it’s 89, would you still be prepared to move forward with that, or is that just an absolute no.

And that’s, that’s something that only an individual can ask, and similarly with the, the bringing it in on time and to, to budget, is, is there a flexible way you can respond there? Is there a, is there some movement there? So it’s just taking maybe a little bit more time to consider, because if, if say the equality, you felt it was coming down to sort of 89 percent, is that something you could still tolerate and still think, I’d be doing good work if I did this?

This would have meaning for me. And it might even be a little bit lower and that might motivate you to think well what can we do next on the back of this to keep moving forward to that equality because there’ll always be compromises to be made. And I think only we know the [00:28:00] sort of boundaries of that zone of compromise, really.

Does that, does that help? Does that make sense?

Mat: You know, what, what it, what mostly what I’m hearing is that, that I’m talking about things being very binary. I either have this value or I don’t, and I either can do it or I don’t. And I either have this one or the other one, but actually sort of, you know, what you’ve outlined, isn’t stuff that is as binary as that.

You’ve outlined stuff that’s much more nuanced because you talk about, can I have 2 percent high quality connection? You know, can, will I settle for 89 percent equality? Yeah. So, so I think that, that kind of what I’m really hearing is important. So it’s not, it’s not, it’s not, I must have it. but it’s about, you know, how they’re balanced.

And again, if I’m kind of thinking, you know, when it comes to leadership, because I’m sure that all of us, you know, all of us are leaders and all of us will find ourselves in circumstances where it’s difficult to meet our values and other people’s values and [00:29:00] organizational values and our patients values.

And, you know, and that happens all the time, all the time we’re sort of, we’re navigating this thing. But, but what, what you’re saying, it’s less about. yes or no and more about how can we balance and try and strike a compromise and you know what what’s what’s acceptable you know what what would what would I be content with I think that that kind of flexibility rather than the binary thinking I think that’s what strikes me is really important here.

Ross: Yeah, it’s interesting you used that flexibility word because this ACT approach, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, is designed to enhance something called psychological flexibility. So that’s, that’s exactly what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to say, can you, can you show up in this, any given context in a way that really represents what’s meaningful for you in this context and in a way that you’re not overly.

derailed by that unhelpful stuff that the mind [00:30:00] produces.

Mat: Tell me a bit more about this idea of psychological flexibility. What is it?

Ross: Yeah, well, acceptance and commitment therapy is made up of six processes, which are all designed to support this psychological flexibility. And there’s a lot of great, great, um, studies, RASI, Randomized Controlled Trials, around the application of acceptance and commitment therapy in many different human contexts.

And in the workplace, we can package those six processes in different ways. So as I said, given you a glimpse of for leadership, I consider it to be building our awareness, our awareness of what’s going on around us, the opportunities and the threats that are there, awareness of how we are showing up, because sometimes we don’t notice that, how are we impacting on others, and an awareness of that stuff that’s going on between our ears.

Then there’s the authentic action, which [00:31:00] is, can I just pause and think, what really matters to me in my role as a doctor? What really matters to me in this next Interaction I’m going into, and how can I bring that to life in my behavior? And then the third way I’d characterize it is adaptability. A doctor is going from many different challenges and interactions every day.

How, how can I adapt the way I am to suit the context in which I find myself without being derailed by that unhelpful stuff? And we can, we can teach some simple evidence based skills to help people with that. And overarching, there’s a, there’s a, there’s an attitude, an attitude of curiosity and kindness towards our own experience as a human being.

Because we know that quite often we are our own harshest critics. We can be very hard on ourselves. [00:32:00] And it’s adopting that It’s a more compassionate stance towards ourselves. And there’s research certainly for nursing populations that, that if you consider three flows of compassion, there’s the compassion from me to the people I work with, there’s my preparedness to receive compassion from others, and my preparedness to give myself compassion.

We find that typically in healthcare settings that you’ll not be surprised that the flow of compassion from the doctors or the nurses to others is high. Preparedness to receive compassion from others, not so high. And preparedness to offer compassion to ourselves, not very, not very, uh, prominent feature of, of the healthcare profession.

Mat: So the three things you mentioned earlier, three pillars, is that what you’ve just told me about? So you told me about awareness, is about authentic [00:33:00] action and adaptability. Is that the three pillars?

Ross: Yeah, that’s, that’s the way I’d characterize the six processes of act for a leadership audience.

Mat: How, how is authentic leadership different to other leadership contexts?

So how, how does authentic leadership fit into the whole gamut of different approaches?

Ross: There are many, there are many different leadership models and theories and styles and there’s some great stuff out there. But the way that really resonates for me from ACT is that it allows you to kind of create your own structure of who you want to be.

You’re not cramming yourself into someone else’s mold of this is, this is how a leader should be and you should have this quality, this quality and this quality. Boom. That can almost leave people feeling a bit trapped or a bit restricted in their behavior because they’re trying to think I must fit with this.

[00:34:00] So, it can help someone bring a different style to life using the, the, the skills from ACT. ACT is a very skills based approach, and often it’s giving skills that, in my education, both at school and higher education, I was never taught these skills. So I think it can help leaders just really reflect on who they want to be, what matters to them, and what might be getting in the way.

And also, it, it can really, these, these skills take practice, and when you practice them, the evidence is showing it can really contribute to the, to your own well being. It can, on a measure like, for instance, the General Health Questionnaire, with populations such as nurses, typically if someone comes to, uh, signs up to a group training of this type of [00:35:00] behavioral science, it We find that before the training, say, 40 and 50 percent are experiencing borderline clinical levels of distress.

And that could take the form of, um, anxiety, depression, for example. And then after four sessions where we’re sharing these types of skills, everyone was well below the threshold, which was maintained at the six month period as well. So it’s, it’s practical skills and habits that we can help people to support their own wellbeing in the workplace.

Mat: So I guess the key here is that, that sometimes people will think that this is what a leader looks like, and you’ve got to be perfect and you’ve got to have it all together. And the reality is that, you know, number one, who knows what a leader looks like, you know, number two, we’re all different. And then this idea of authentic leadership is that, that how I behave in certain circumstances will be different to how you behave and [00:36:00] somebody else behaves.

And, you know, that’s not that any of us are right or wrong. But it’s just, you know, we’re all human beings, and each one of us is making decisions based on our values and our context, you know, that that’s right, that’s right for us. And, you know, and that idea of, you know, finding a best response that that means that that it sits comfortably with me, I can live with that response.

And it’s something that’s appropriate to the circumstances. But then also that perhaps, most importantly, that this It doesn’t happen overnight that there’s, there’s, uh, there’s some practice and some thinking and reflection that’s involved, you know, to get to the stage where you are able to, to, to maybe to pause and, and to, and to notice what’s going on for you and then to make, make some choices and adapt yourself.

And that doesn’t happen overnight. So that’s a kind of, that, that’s a process that requires quite a lot of reflection and, you know, exercise training, et cetera, et cetera.

Ross: Absolutely. Yeah. Beautifully summarized. Yeah. [00:37:00]

Mat: Maybe if I could bring us to a close, Ross, and perhaps if I could ask you to summarise what we’ve talked about, you know, what will be your top tips for doctors at work when it comes to authentic leadership?

Ross: Yeah. So I think we can all get better in our leadership at becoming more aware of what’s going on, how we’re showing up. and what our minds are doing that could really get in the way. We can always usefully take a pause to reflect on our own personal values to use as a beacon for our behavior, something we can move towards.

And we can all get more accustomed to that stuff that happens inside our minds. So we can become more adaptable at where we focus our energy and attention, perhaps not so much on the the unhelpful stuff, but more what’s workable for me in helping me move towards where I want to go. And I guess a final tip from me would be, I really want to support people, but particularly doctors in the NHS and beyond, [00:38:00] thinking about How you recover from work.

It’s just equal importance to what you do in your working hours. And I’d really love to normalize the question in healthcare settings. The question being, well, what are you doing to recharge your batteries? I’d love it if that became more normal in NHS and healthcare settings to say, what are you doing to recharge your batteries?

To get people to, hear what each other are doing, and also normalize that we need to take that time to look after ourselves and top up our own tanks. So that would be my top tip.

Mat: Hopefully, Ross, what they’re doing to recharge their batteries is listening to your podcast and to mine. Thank you very much.

Thank [00:39:00] you.

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