Tuesday 18 February, 2020
Living our values
Last year, as some of you know, I was privileged to be awarded an honorary doctorate by Nottingham Trent University. In accepting it I knew it was really a tribute to the many thousands of exceptional people with whom I have been lucky enough to work over my NHS career. I would not have been able to do what I have done without all of you; you have made each role such a joy and pleasure.
At the degree ceremony I was asked to say a few words and chose to share some brief reflections on what has been important to me in my leadership roles. These are a few of the things I shared.
I am a firm believer in visible leadership. To do my job well, I believe, I need to be accessible and approachable. I want people to know that it is ok to tell me what they think and I try to spend as much time as I can out and about in the organisation, to see for myself and, above all, to listen to what is important you.
I know that I do not have all the answers, far from it. I have always sought to surround myself with people who know more than me, in whom I can place trust and to whom I can go for advice and support. At all levels in the organisation I need people who will tell me the truth, not what they think I want to hear. Thank you for being some of those people.
I hope I have also always tried to keep my roles in perspective. I am one of a team, no more, no less important than every other person working in the organisation. Carolyn, my wonderful partner (of nearly 40 years!) and our two daughters are among the people who help me keep it real and ensure I keep my feet firmly on the ground if ever I show signs of getting carried away with my own self-importance!
Respect for everyone
There were many more things I could have shared but I stuck with two very simple truths. One is the importance of valuing everyone, of treating people with respect and as they would wish to be treated. The other is the importance of ensuring people know how much they are valued both as an individual, and for what they contribute. You cannot say thank you enough in my opinion. A person who feels appreciated will, in my experience, always do more than expected.
Compassion in action
I will not pretend for one moment that I always get it right. Far from it. But I will always try to have those values at the core of how I approach what I do. The way we behave to each other, and to the people who depend on our care and support, has a fundamental and powerful impact on how we are able to go about our business and the success we achieve.
As the wonderful Maya Angelou once said: ‘I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel’.
Finally on this #RandomActsOfKindnessDay, take a moment to check in on someone who may be struggling. You can find out what help is available for you and for others through #EveryMindMatters. www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters
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