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Leadership Event for Occupational Therapy and Allied Health Professions

Posted Feb 12 2010 6:25am

If anyone has ever felt slightly out of their depth then read on…… Today we have had Andy Burnham (Secretary of State for Health ) speak to students, staff and external guests about his experiences of leadership and his views on what it takes to be a leader in the NHS and social care settings.

Andy was the opening speaker for a seminar series which will continue with speakers related to healthcare in its widest sense but also some speakers specific to occupational therapy and the way in which leadership is essential for occupational therapy to move into the future.

I should clarify that Andy Burnham wasn’t out of his depth during his seminar (!) but he referred to the feeling of progressing in your career into leadership positions and that feeling of being unsure of your position and feeling out of your depth but suggested that in those situations where you are challenged and where you are interacting with people in new circumstances that you are perhaps in the perfect place to develop your skills and confirm your leadership potential.

Andy talked about his experiences of challenges throughout his career and the difficult situations he faces in his current position and made reference to a particularly challenging week. Andy spoke of facing all situations with integrity and speaking about what you know and reinforced that you should never speak about ‘what you don’t know’.

I should also clarify how this came about as to have The Secretary of State for Health to open a seminar series may seem a little incongruous but Andy is my local MP (MP for Leigh) and agreed to come and speak on his constituency day. I completed a leadership development course as a clinician before moving into lecturing and he spoke to my group then when he was a junior MP and it felt right to have him speak as part of leadership programme that I am developing.

I have to admit to feeling a little out of my depth as the event grew nearer due to the status of the speaker but as Andy confirmed in his talk if you have passion for a subject and act according to that passion you have the components of success. I feel passionately that occupational therapists must develop their leadership skills with an awareness of the particular characteristics of the profession. That occupational therapists need to be encouraged to lead but that they should have greater awareness of the types of challenge they face in the NHS and Social Care so that they lead consciously and effectively overcoming professional and gender discrimination.
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