Clinical Psychology and Leadership

With changing service provision and changes to how we support people who experience psychological distress, leadership is becoming increasingly important for clinical psychologists. Below is an essay written during clinical psychology training which provides advice for clinical psychologists who want to develope their leadership skills. The first two parts of the essay provide the historical context of leadership and its relevance to clinical psychology. In the second two parts of the essay, their is consideration of how clinical psychology training is a solid foundation for leadership and how psychologists can engage in new ways to lead. Each section provides a brief summary and some practical advice for clinical psychologists and other people considering their role as leaders. I hope that you find some of the information useful.

Developing your leadership skills as a clinical psychologist

Theories of leadership have developed over the past 150 years and have now begun to focus on engaging people in the leadership process. There are numerous guidelines for how to facilitate these types of leadership and the most relevant to clinical psychologists is from the British Psychological Society’s (BPS) Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP; Skinner et al., 2010). This framework provides structured guidance that can enable you to better understand how clinical psychologists can provide more leadership, to consider what clinical psychologists bring to leadership and how you can develop and apply these skills. However, some argue that these reductionist frameworks are unnecessary because the systems in which we work are far too complex i.e. the NHS. As clinical psychologists, you have a number of interpersonal skills and knowledge of systemic approaches, that enable you to be an effective leader and you can and we can use these skills more broadly to lead in different contexts.

The first piece of advice I would give to you, as a clinical psychologist, is to relax. Relax because you already know how to lead and have all the foundations in place to be a great leader. This essay will help to improve your understanding of leadership skills and how to develop them. There are four separate sections. ‘Part one’ will give an overview of the definitions and key theories of leadership. In ‘part two’ leadership in the National Health Service (NHS) for clinical psychologists is considered. ‘Part three’ gives consideration to the specific skills that clinical psychologists bring to leadership and ‘part four’ provides suggestions of how clinical psychologists can use these skills to lead in new, creative ways. Throughout, I will include examples and practical advice that have informed my views of leadership in clinical psychology.

My first reflection on leadership came when I was 14 years old after watching the film ‘Braveheart’ (McEveety & Gibson, 1995), which depicts the story of William Wallace, a 13thCentury leader, who liberated Scotland to become a free nation in opposition of English tyranny. William Wallace is a clear example of outstanding leadership. The film made very clear that he was no ordinary man; he was a great man. The Great Man Theory of leadership (Carlyle, 1888) became popular during the mid 19thCentury and, until the mid 20thCentury, remained dominant. The idea that these ‘hero’ leaders are born, rather than made, was a dominant discourse across cultures (Hirsch, 2002). Other notable examples of Great Man or ‘hero’ leadership include Abraham Lincoln, who ended slavery after the American Civil War and Muhatma Ghandi, who maintained the peaceful alliance at the turbulent time of India’s independence. You will have your own personal reflections of leadership through direct experience, music, film or literature. These leaders can sometimes seem mysterious lead us to ask ‘why are these people such great leaders?’

Part one: no more heroes

There are multiple definitions of leadership, and each varies in relation to the purpose, method and individual style of leadership (The King’s Fund, 2011). Kotter (1996) provides one of the most popular definitions of leadership, distinguishing it from the concept of management. He describes management as concerned with organisation, planning, budgeting, staff issues and problem solving, whereas leadership is described as the process of motivating and inspiring people, establishing direction and enabling people to work together (Kotter 1996). Kotter’s definition is useful because it helps us to understand what leadership is and is not. The difference between leadership and management has been also described in the following way,“management is doing things right … leadership is doing the right thing” (Skinner, 2011 pp. 13). In my experience, some psychologists who I have seen in leadership roles across different sectors have been ineffective leaders because they have, for various reasons, prioritised the managerial responsibilities of their role. In these settings, leadership is sometimes viewed as a luxury in a competitive and demanding work environment and increasing pressure for efficiency leads to more management and less leadership.

Here I will highlight four theories with different approaches to leadership: the trait approach, the behavioural approach, situational leadership and transformational leadership. The Great Man Theory of leadership (Carlyle, 1888) relates to the trait approach, which attempts to establish the personality, motives, skills and values that make great leaders. In review, Stogdill (1974; Fig 1), found that there was some consistency in traits but no combination of traits could guarantee leadership success. Other researchers adopted a behavioural approach to leadership, attempting to identify what leaders do that results in success. For example, McGregor (1960) suggested that there are two types of leaders. Theory X leaders believe that people dislike work and want to avoid it, so coercion and control are necessary to ensure effective task completion and an autocratic style is preferred. Theory Y leaders believe that work comes naturally and that workers will seek responsibility, so there is potential to enhance the employees’ capabilities and a democratic style is preferred (McGreggor, 1960). These reductionist approaches gave little consideration to the dynamic factors of leadership i.e. the followers and context. In the mid 21stCentury, there was a move away from the ‘hero’ model of leadership which is captured in one of my favourite quotes: “if you have a hero, look again, you have diminished yourself in some way” (Kopp, 1976).

With a more integrative emphasis, ‘situational leadership’ is concerned with establishing how the environment interacts with the leadership style. Fiedler (1964) proposed that leaders should be chosen depending on the task in hand as they tend to be either task or relationship focused. Clinical Psychologists are, by virtue of their training, relationship focused. Hersey and Blanchard (1969) found that the individual could adjust their style of leadership in response to the context of decision-making. Lewin et al establish three key styles of leadership decision-making: autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire (Lewin, Lippit & White, 1939). The most effective leaders will adapt their approach using each of these styles when appropriate (Hersey & Blanchard, 1969) and depending on how much consultation and guidance is required. Ideally the leader’s style should enable them to balance three elements of leadership: the goal, the group and the individuals, to ensure ‘action-centred leadership’ (Adair, 1973; fig 2). Leaders should identify the task requirements and communicate these to the group, plan the task with the group whilst delegating responsibility and monitor and evaluate group progress (Adair, 1973).

Burns (1978) emphasised the importance of the leaders in empowering and motivating followers enabling both groups to achieve higher levels of motivation and morality. These ideas were developed into transformational leadership (Bass & Avolio, 1994). The term ‘transformation’ has been negatively associated with efficiency savings and organisational restructure in recent years. This is not the context of the term in when discussing transformational leadership, which aims to“transform people and organisations in a literal sense … to change them in mind and heart; enlarge vision, insight, and understanding; clarify purposes; make behaviour congruent with beliefs, principles, or values; and bring about changes that are permanent, self-perpetuating, and momentum building” (Bass & Avolio, 1994 pp. 408). Transformational leadership been successfully implemented by a number of different health care organisations (Bolden, 2004). It differs from more traditional, transactional leadership, where leaders gain support from followers through an exchange of pay for reliable work (Covey, 1992).

Transformational leadership has been shown to be successful, but achieving this type of leadership can be difficult. Two approaches have been employed to varying rates of success: the charismatic leader and engaging leadership. The concept of the ‘charismatic leader’ became popular towards the end of the 20thCentury (House, 1976). This approach was a combination of the trait theory of leadership and transformational leadership. It was commonly accepted that a charismatic leader was self-confident, had a desire to influence, role-modelled behaviour, could articulate goals well and had high confidence in and expectations of their followers (Northouse, 2004). However, the charismatic leader has been associated with arrogance, narcissism and disloyalty and difficulty in building a support team (Badaracco, 2002). Some think this type of leadership, in part, lead to the corporate scandals that contributed to the failings of the Lehman Brothers and the Royal Bank of Scotland, triggering the financial crisis and recession of 2008 (Alimo-Metcalfe & Alban-Metcalfe, 2011). In many organisations, the charismatic leader has been replaced with engaging leadership.

An employee who is engaged in the transformational process understands the business and works with others to improve performance for the benefit of each other and the organisation (Robinson, Perryman & Hayday, 2004). Figure 1 illustrates the components of engaging leadership model: leading individuals, the organisation and moving forward together (Real World Group, 2011). With engaging leadership, responsibility is dispersed and all members of the team are encouraged to nurture engagement through their relationshipswith stakeholders, where they are remaining sensitive to differing agenda and needs (Raelin, 2003; Robinson, Perryman & Hayday, 2004). There are no formal leadership roles and leadership is everyone’s responsibility (Alimo-Metcalfe & Alban-Metcalfe, 2011) so that staff feel empowered as they are able to express themselves physically, cognitively and emotionally during the role (Kahn, 1990). Engaging leadership occurs through creating a culture in which curiosity, experimentation, empowerment, learning and challenge of the status quo are valued by leaders (Alimo-Metcalfe & Alban-Metcalfe, 2011). Engaging leadership has been shown to relate to high levels of wellbeing, improved customer service and commitment as well as reduced absence and staff turnover (Alimo-Metcalfe & Alban-Metcalfe, 2011). This model has become dominant in many organisations, including the NHS.

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Figure 1. The model of engaging leadership, taken from Alimo-Metcalfe (2011).

Summary: no more heroes

  • Leadership is theprocess of motivating, inspiring, establishing direction and enabling collaboration.
  • There has been a shift from trait and behavioural approaches to transformational leadership. Engaging leadership has shown success as a method of achieving transformation.
  • The engaging leader enables staff empowerment through dispersing the leadership process. This model is the foundation of the current guidelines in a number of organisations.

Advice

  • Consider your own experiences of leadership and how they relate to the models of leadership discussed here.
  • Engaging leadership is most relevant in the current context of health care; have you notice this style of leadership?
  • The models presented here highlight the variety of factors that contribute to successful leadership. Finding the framework that best fits your skills will help you to consider your own leadership style, which will help you to relax and lead confidently.

 Part two: leadership, the NHS and clinical psychology

This section will move away from theory and explore how our understanding of leadership has been applied in healthcare. There are often difficulties translating research findings from well-controlled environments into complex systems that exist in healthcare (Weisz et al., 2013). The NHS is particularly complex, being the fifth biggest employer in the world (Guardian, 2010), which sees over 1 million patients every two days and spends £2 billion per week (King’s Fund, 2011). From 1999-2009, NHS staffing increased by 30% from 1.1 million to 1.43 million (Office for National Statistics 2010). However, growth has been disproportionate as the number of professionally qualified staff (including psychologists) increased by 34% whilst the numbers of managers increased by 84% (Office for National Statistics 2010). This disproportionate increase has been the subject of much criticism as administration and bureaucracy appeared to be of a greater priority than patient care (King’s Fund, 2011). Under the austerity measures of the Conservative government, there is pressure to reduce spending and increase efficiency; improving leadership is an essential part of this process (King’s Fund, 2011). Effective leadership behaviour enables organisations such as the NHS to “not only cope with change but also to be proactive in shaping the future” (Skinner, 2011 pp. 13)

The leadership model that an organisation employs has a direct effect on processes such staff recruitment, staff appraisal, performance management, and most importantly, the development of leadership frameworks (Alimo-Metcalfe and Alban-Metcalfe, 2011). Leadership frameworks are most important as they often form the foundation of other organisational processes. One recent and important example of a leadership framework is the NHS Healthcare Leadership Model (NHS Leadership Academy, 2013). This model has nine components, which focus on engaging transformational leadership. The components were developed through a combination of the existing leadership research (considered above) and identifying what needs were specific to healthcare, the NHS, and the NHS in the current economic environment (NHS Leadership Academy, 2013). The nine components are: “leading with care, sharing the vision, engaging the team, influencing results, evaluating information, inspiring shared purpose, connecting our service, developing capability and holding to account” (NHS Leadership Academy, 2013). They are designed to help professionals explore their strengths and areas for development using an engaging leadership approach. The importance of each dimension will vary in accordance with your role and the context of your work (NHS Leadership Academy, 2013).

Understanding of leadership models does not ensure effective leadership. Other factors should be developed to improve your ability to lead. Previous research has shown that how you enact a competency (i.e. your leadership style) determines the effect that the leaders have on morale, commitment, engagement and performance (Bolden & Gosling, 2006). An effective leadership style typically includes “a combination of emotional expressiveness, self- confidence, self-determination and freedom from internal conflict” Bass (1992, cited in NHS Leadership Academy, 2013). These should be developed independently to enable professional to become effective leaders in the NHS (NHS Leadership Academy, 2013). I have experienced leaders who assume an emotionally detached, expert position; this created a closed, un-collaborative dialogue with staff. This led to my colleagues and I experiencing a sense of incompetence, which lead to anxiety. This experience enabled me to realise how I wanted to develop as a leader.

There are many examples of leaders within clinical psychology and perhaps the most notable and radical was Sigmund Freud, whose ideas had influence reaching far beyond psychology and medicine (Storr, 2001). Freud’s leadership was relevant for his time and context (Torres, 2013) but I doubt that Freud’s expert style of leadership would be successful in the current context in which clinical psychologists now work. Leadership has become a crucial part of the way in which you work (Lavender & Hope, 2007), which has led to the development of a Clinical PsychologyLeadership Development Framework(Skinner et al., 2010). This framework addresses how clinical psychologists can provide leadership “across all levels of the profession” (Skinner et al., 2010 pp.2) and there is a focus on clinical, professional and strategic drivers for leadership. The Clinical Psychology Leadership Development Framework helpfully outlines skills clinical psychologists bring to leadership, how to develop the skills and how to use them, with specific guidance for each level of the profession: trainee clinical psychologist, practicing clinical psychologist, consultant clinical psychologist and clinical director (Skinner et al., 2010). The role of a newly qualified clinical psychologist in leadership will be considered in more detail in section three.

The Clinical Psychology Leadership Development Framework(Skinner et al., 2010) also includes a Proposed Leadership Competency Framework for Clinical Professionals on which leadership skills can be developed and evaluated for clinical psychologists working in the NHS (Figure 2). The five areas of competency are: “demonstrating personal qualities, working with others, setting direction, managing services and improving services” Skinner et al. (2010). I have found the framework helpful in furthering my understanding as it mirrors competency documents for the leadership development of NHS staff. However, not all clinical psychologists agree that a specific professional framework is helpful as it can detract from our understanding of the complexities of leadership (Onyett, 2012). Onyett (2012) proposed that we should move away from the reductionist idea that ‘A’ (or A’s) gives rise to complex, context bound ‘B’, leadership (Onyett, 2012).

Onyett (2012) considered Glouberman and Zimmerman’s (2002) problem types: simple, complicated and complex. An example of a simple problem is cooking a recipe, where if you follow the steps, you’ll get the results time after time. A complicated system is like building a rocket ship in that you need experts and good coordination, but if you repeatedly get everything in place, you create multiple rocket ships. A complex system is like raising a child because it is incredibly complex and because of the number of variables and interacting factors and being successful once does not guarantee future success (Glouberman & Zimmerman, 2002). Health care is a complex system and we often attempt to apply complicated solutions, such as leadership frameworks, to these complex systems (Onyett, 2012). Rather than focusing on competencies, perhaps we should recognise the complexity of human systems and relationships within and between groups and build on our systemic understating of complexity to develop a flexible approach to leadership that can be applied to more complex problems (Bolden, 2004). During clinical psychology training we are first introduced to systemic thinking through family therapy, narrative approaches and formulation that could be used to develop this flexible response to leadership (Johnstone & Dallos, 2006). In my experience, when I have presented a systemic understanding of an individual case or team function, others have found it helpful.

Competency How it is demonstrated
Demonstrating personal qualities Developing self-awareness, managing self, continuous personal development, acting with integrity
Working with others Developing networks, building & maintaining relationships, encouraging contribution, working with teams
Setting direction Identifying context, applying knowledge & evidence, making decisions, evaluating impact
Managing services Planning, managing resources, managing people, managing performance
Improving services Ensuring patient safety, critically evaluating, encouraging improvement & innovation, facilitating transformation

Figure 2. Proposed Leadership Competency Framework for Clinical Professionals, taken from Skinner et al (2010).

Summary: leadership, the NHS and clinical psychology

  • The NHS is a complex system and the fifth biggest employer in the world. Efficiency savings mean that effective leadership is increasingly important.
  • The NHS Healthcare Leadership Model and Clinical Psychology Leadership Development Frameworkare useful documents. How you enact the leadership competency is crucial to success.
  • It may be that we are applying complicated solutions to a complex system and perhaps we should develop our systemic understanding of complexity to develop a flexible approach to leadership.

Advice

  • Read the NHS Healthcare Leadership Model and the Clinical PsychologyLeadership Development Framework, to consider your areas of development.
  • Consider alternatives to limitations and alternatives to the models proposed.
  • Consider how our therapeutic models might lend themselves to leadership approaches too e.g. narrative and systemic working as a way of managing teams.

Part three: you already know how to lead

            In readomg recent lecture about consultation and leadership, I realised that the qualities that were being discussed as relevant to good leadership were things that I endeavoured to do. For example, developing relationships with the team members, providing space to voice concerns and an alternative perspective on a client’s presentation. As a profession, clinical psychologists understand the dynamics of relationships and are required to continually evidence and develop these skills throughout our careers. As well as this, clinical psychologists are intelligent, reflective and have a well-developed emotional awareness (Skinner, 2012). Onyett (2012) parallels between the clinical practice of psychologists and leadership, and others have commented that our core competencies make for a solid grounding in leadership because it links to our personal qualities and values (Skinner, 2011).The New Ways of Working document states “Psychologists, by virtue of their training, competencies and experience, can lead and manage teams, and take ‘clinical responsibility’ while supervising more junior staff” (Lavender & Hope, 2007, pp. 39).So, you already have the skills that you require to lead.

The Clinical Psychology Leadership Development Framework (Skinner et al., 2010) outlines what clinical psychologists bring to leadership and different stages in their careers: doctoral trainee, practicing psychologist, consultant psychologist, and clinical director. Figure 3 shows what skills trainee clinical psychologists bring as leaders, how trainee qualified clinical psychologist can develop their leadership skills and how they can apply them. As a newly qualified clinical psychologist, these should all be experiences that are familiar to you. Leadership as a dispersed process means that it is inextricable from teamwork (Skinner, 2011). What is important is the relationship between leaders and followers – which creates a unified identity of both groups – turns you and me into us (Haslam & Platow, 2001). The DCP framework contains tangible examples of leadership and I have found this useful in my experience as a trainee clinical psychologist. Some courses have developed specific guidance for trainee psychologists to track their development of leadership skills. The University of Leeds, Clinical Psychology Training program has developed their own Leadership Skills Development Document (University of Leeds, 2013), which borrows from the Clinical Psychology Leadership Development Framework guidance and is assessed as part of the placement assessment throughout all course placements. Specifically, each placement encourages Leeds’ trainees to do the following:

  • Observe Supervisor or other colleague in a leadership role, influencing others in a service e.g. their approach or understanding of a client; providing effective feedback to a service
  • Taking a lead/supporting role in work with a colleague or another team/agency regarding a client/family/clinical situation
  • Taking a lead/supporting role in a discrete project or work to develop a service (e.g. service user involvement, investigating needs in a population/staff team) including Service Evaluation Project (SEP) work and Audit taken from the University of Leeds, 2013)

This form has been useful in orientating me to the different ways that I can lead as a trainee clinical psychologist. In observing supervisors, the most effective style if the leader who can switch between the autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire styles of leadership when it is appropriate (Lewin, Lippit & White, 1939). For example, when more defined tasks need to be completed and have not, an autocratic style is adopted. When there is more flexibility in the task, a democratic or laissez-faire style is adopted. Crucially, the supervisor was able to maintain a fair and consistent approach through the application of these various styles of leadership. I have facilitated formulation meetings where members of the forensic service team could bring a particular client to discuss. Through gaining an understanding of their professional perspective, I enabled them to consider the formulation of this person. I have also been involved in leading a piece of research with multiple stakeholders from a variety of professional backgrounds.

What clinical skills do I bring to leadership? How do I develop them? How can I apply them?
Formulation skills from more than one psychological model to inform interventions.

Awareness/building/ maintenance of interpersonal relationships.

An understanding of the emotional impact of change (including resistance).

Self-reflection/helping others self- reflect.

Emotional Intelligence/resilience.

Able to lead on complex psychometric 
testing.

Comprehensive psychological 
assessment including risk.

Gain experience of leading on a psychological issue in teams, e.g. formulation.

Gain knowledge of other professional’s ways of working and service users views.

Scenario discussions with placement supervisor.

Seek training in supervision, mentoring, consultation, teaching and training others.

 

Take a lead in MDT meetings regarding psychological formulation of a client’s care.

Lead on psychological care planning for a client.

Lead on supervision or consultation
to a professional from a discipline other than psychology on a single case.

Monitor your own clinical practice including values and your ownwellbeing.

 

Figure 3. Clinical Psychology Leadership Development Framework: clinical drivers for trainee clinical psychologists, taken from Skinner et al. (2010)

From the Clinical Psychology Leadership Development Framework, I wanted to pick out some current issues in clinical psychology to be aware of in relation to the current climate in health care. Formulation is our unique selling point (Johnstone & Dallos, 2006) and often what we bring to teams is an alternative perspective and a way to conceptualise an individual or team difficulty in a different way using evidence-based approaches. We can introduce alternative ways to understand what is going on depending on what would be most suitable for that situation. In my experience, this type of everyday leadership has been most effective in changing the teams’ perspective and has led to changes in the discourse associated with this individual. Along with the use of formulation, psychologists use our understanding of interpersonal relationships and the emotional impact of change to understand the perspective of the person to whom we are providing information and that of the client (Skinner et al. 2010; Skinner, 2011). This approach can be helpful for the staff working in more intensive environments where the focus may be on medical care rather than a holistic approach that considers psychological distress and associated social factors. What’s more, we can encourage others to develop these interpersonal skills through formulation and our daily interactions. This way of working is related to the engaging leadership model and demonstrates how we can lead others and move forward together with a shared vision (Alimo-Metcalfe, 2011).

Summary: you already know how to lead

  • You have a wide range of skills that make you well positioned as a leader i.e. formulation, emotional intelligence, knowledge of interpersonal relationship
  • Some training courses have integrated the DCP leadership framework into their guidance for trainee clinical psychologists
  • We can use our skills to enable others to lead, in line with the engaging leadership model

Advice

  • Consider what clinical skills you have used in your leadership so far
  • Consider which skills are strengths and which ones you would like to develop further
  • Begin to develop your preferred style of leadership

Part four: new ways to lead

In this section, I will give some advice from my experience of the different ways in which clinical psychologists can apply their leadership skills more broadly. Some of these ideas entail being a psychologist outside of your standard working hours and will not be appealing to all clinical psychologists.

No psychology without psychologists. The widening use of psychological interventions means that psychology is everywhere. As a result, it is more frequently being adopted by professionals from other disciplines who are being trained to apply psychological approaches, such as social workers, mental health nurses, psychological wellbeing practitioners (Lavender & Hope, 2007; Skinner, 2007). We should lead teams using psychological approaches or provide consultation and supervision for professionals using these approaches. There is a risk that if we don’t provide leadership and guidance that the psychological foundations of many approaches could be lost. Skinner (2011) proposed that there should be no psychology without psychologists and that we have “done the right thing giving away psychological knowledge and practice but with that comes a responsibility to remain as a guardian of its use – not to walk away” (Skinner, 2011 pp. 14).

Lead beyond your remit. At the Clinical Psychology: Beyond The Therapy Room (2015) conference, Jamie Hacker-Hughes, spoke about how clinical psychologists need to have a louder voice and be more visible. Specifically, wherever there is a psychiatrist, there could and should be a psychologist. The medicalised, expert position of psychiatry can produce an unhelpful narrative, which can lead those using services to feel disempowered. Hacker-Hughes encouraged clinical psychologists in the room to be more aware of how dominant discourse or government policy is impacting on mental health and to speak out against this. He proposed we do this by ensuring a psychological persists in the media, writing online blogs, engaging with other professionals, service users expanding our networks on social media platforms such as Twitter. In fact, it is through the latter than recent organisations, such as ‘Psychologists for Social Change’. This method of engagement offers an opportunity to connect and provide everyday leadership through a variety of platforms that can enable us to change the dominant discourses in society.                                                

Broaden your networks. Torres (2013) refers to the complex networks of decision-making because of the technology that we have available. She advocates diversifying our networks so that we are not insular as a profession and LinkedIn and other mixed media are useful ways to engage with a variety of people. We need to be in contact with people who are thinking differently. A previous supervisor of mine publishes his work as a clinical psychologist in non-psychology academic journals to diversify his network and position psychologists as leaders for a variety of professional groups. Another example of this is Cafe Psychologiquè, which takes place in various parts of the country. I am involved in the organisation of these events that aims to engage members of the public in conversations about topics related to psychology (i.e. feminism, mindfulness, treatment and punishment).

Be an everyday leader. Dudley (2010) posits that we have, in the past, made leadership into something that is bigger than or beyond us. However, Dudley advocated that whenever you change a person’s perspective, you have provided leadership and it should and does happen everyday. This talk is inspirational and changed my perspective on the impact that small examples of leadership can have on a person’s life. Moving forward you should developing your skills as a clinical psychologist as this will enable you to become a better leader, particularly if you’re mindful of how your clinical skills make you a better leader. My experience of those in more senior management positions who are better positioned to lead is that they are willing to look at different ways of work, considering ideas from other sectors i.e. car manufacturing (LEAN management), physics (non-linear dynamic systems theory) to consider alternative structures for organisation’s that can be developed through dispersed leadership.

Summary: new ways to lead

  • It has been suggested that we should remain a guardian of psychological knowledge
  • There is opportunity to lead in new ways and broaden you networks using alternative platforms such as Twitter, blogs, media appearances etc.
  • As part of engaging leadership, you can provide everyday leadership to change perspectives on a regular basis – leadership is something we all do!

Advice

  • Ensure psychology clinical psychology is more visible in the media, blogs, engaging with other professionals, and service users on Twitter. If you have an account you can follow @profjamiehh (Jamie Hacker-Hughes, BPS president), @peterkinderman (BPS president elect), @jacquidillon (service user and academic), @BPSofficial (the British Psychological Society) and Psychologists for Social Change (@PsychSocChange).
  • It is likely that there is a network of professionals and service users in your area discussing current issues and sharing ideas about how to lead on changes in a number of areas relevant to clinical psychology.
  • Remain open and curious to new ways to develop and apply your leadership skills.

Final thoughts

Through consideration of the leadership theory and guidance discussed above, you can improve your understanding of how you can develop your leadership skills and find your own leadership style. As a clinical psychologist, you already have the foundations of an engaging leader and I hope that you can relax into your own style of leadership. As a profession, clinical psychologists are fortunate to have the variety of skills and new ways to lead considered above are some ways that you can apply your skills more widely, to have an impact beyond your clinical work. I hope that you find this prospect as exciting as I do. We don’t need any more ‘Braveheart leadership’, as we can all be encouraged to develop our potential as leaders on a daily basis in a variety of ways. So, no more heroes, empower others to lead and move forward together.

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