REFLECT: Leading your team

Whether you supervise a student, lead your own research or clinical team or head up a department or organisation, there are many additional things to consider when leading your team through a time of great change and challenge. The challenges we have faced with our teams have allowed us to reflect on our approach to leading people. Resources gathered here can support you through the immediate challenges, as well offer useful tools to implement in our leadership now, and in the future.   


[Page last updated 09 June 2021]


Dr Shoba Amarnath is an Academy Springboard awardee and mentee, and a Newcastle University Research Fellow in the Faculty of Medical Sciences. In this video, she talks about the roadblocks she faced during COVID as a researcher transitioning to independence, from laboratory shutdowns and having to lose members of staff, to anxiety around the pressures of building a career in a competitive field. Dr Amarnath explains how she has led her group to a more flexible research programme, making the most of her connections with other researchers and doctors around the UK to pivot to new possibilities. 


Dr Virginia Newcombe is a Health Foundation and Academy of Medical Sciences Clinician Scientist Fellow. She works as a Consultant in Critical Care and Emergency Medicine at the University of Cambridge. Here, she talks to the Academy about dealing with uncertainty as a clinical leader, the difficulties of communicating while wearing PPE, and the importance of staying calm in a crisis.


Dr Neil Hill, consultant in diabetes and endocrinology at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, shares his thoughts on leadership

"Hello. I'm a consultant at Charing Cross Hospital; I specialise in diabetes and general medicine and I’m going to briefly discuss my thoughts about leadership. I guess I was asked because I was in the Army for a while. I feel slightly embarrassed speaking to people about leadership. I don't think I have any unique insights other than to tell you a bit about my thoughts on leading an on-call team or a ward round. In spite of the military background I think my principle and formative experience of leadership training was being in my school rugby team when we were really terrible, and we got thrashed pretty much every week. Anyway, in Baz Luhrmann “Sunscreen” style, my main message would be to always buy your team coffee (or other refreshments). It seems to work.

"Other things – Sometimes I email to say thanks to the juniors I worked with on call, afterwards. I think they are looking for someone supportive and willing to do things that they (and usually I) don’t really want to. A friend who was an engineer in the Army before becoming a doctor told us once about excavation. Usually (obviously) big holes are excavated by large plant vehicles but sometimes in the military they need to be dug without machinery. You want to be one of the people in the hole, getting muddy, shovelling out dirt and grit; not leaning on a spade peering in. I guess that's a loose analogy to the model of leadership which I aim for.

"The other thing I try to do is flatten the clinical hierarchy before the ward round – I ask everyone to call me by my first name (which of course they never do, but it’s worth trying) and to chip in if they think I'm making some dreadful mistake or completely on the wrong
track. And when I’ve finished speaking to a patient, I ask my team if there is anything I have missed, or that they want to ask or if they have any points to add.

"Thanks for reading."


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