Saturday, 15 March 2014

Drive and Determination (or 10 Top Tips x 3)

Years ago, when I was a regional manager for the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme, one of the 4 competencies that we assessed candidates for was ‘Drive and Determination’. Despite reading many accounts of Duke of Edinburgh treks gone wrong, where our valiant applicant overcome all odds of the broken ankle/foraging for food/wrong map/no compass variety to lead the winning team, this was the competency that stood out for me.
A few years later, I wrote a Masters dissertation on what it took senior NHS leaders to get to the positions they had achieved. I loved it and what came out of a qualitative melange of career development (mostly self directed), management development and leadership development was, again, drive and determination. Many leaders I interviewed had successfully dealt with quite significant career set backs and become stronger as a result.
I think that today, we would call this ‘emotional resilience’ and Ian Pettigrew @KingfisherCoach recently tweeted an article from the Telegraph by Sarah Rainey, where it was suggested this is the ‘armour you need for modern life.’  

Top tips ending the article are:
Ten ways to build your emotional resilience
-       See crises as challenges to overcome; not insurmountable problems
-       Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends and family
-       Accept that change is part of life, not a disaster
-       Take control and be decisive in difficult situations
-       Nurture a positive view of yourself - don’t talk yourself down or focus on flaws
-       Look for opportunities to improve yourself: a new challenge, social situation or           interest outside work. Set goals and plan ways to reach them
-       Keep things in perspective: learn from your mistakes and think long-term
-       Practise optimism and actively seek the good side of a bad situation
-       Practise emotional awareness: can you identify what you are feeling and why?
-       Look after yourself, through healthy eating, exercise, sleep and relaxation.
I have to say that that these are fabulous tips in my view, but I am not sure they are new, and I think the current concept of ‘emotional resilience’ is a new badge for having the determination to succeed, self belief and the ability to keep learning from experience. Or simply the ability to bounce back…
I have also been very struck recently by the excellent advice given by Angela O’Connor at @TheHRLounge, written for International Women’s Day last week, but with advice that everybody who may feel that they face insurmountable challenges, should find useful.  Again there are 10 tips, that even though I am a woman who holds a leadership position, I have favourited this and will return to it again and again. The summary of these is:
Believe in yourself
Leadership always take vision, courage and determination. It means being resilient, it means doing the right thing and being brave and it sometimes means walking away. You need to know when to fight and when to concede.
Finally, for this blog, I was lucky to be invited recently to a guest lecture by Sara Thornton, the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police. She also gave us 10 top tips. As I was busy actively listening, I didn’t write them down, but a number overlap with those above, and those I have retained are below (my words and order):
·      Toughen up, but don’t lose sensitivity
·      Don’t take it personally
·      Work hard and practise, practise (I think she mentioned the 10,000 hours…)
·      Don’t use self limiting language
·      When you need to, disagree well and positively, in a constructive way
·      Be brave and keep trying
·      Career ladders aren’t linear
·      If every day you have to eat a live, slimy frog, eat it for breakfast
The reason I have written this blog, recommended the article and blog above and noted some tips from the guest lecture is that, as people who know me at work will understand, colleagues and I are facing an exceptionally challenging time at the moment, have been for some months, and this will continue for several months to come. Events beyond our control take place every day and situations regularly change within a few days, if not hours. It would be easy to succumb to all sorts of self detrimental feelings and behaviour. Some days it is hard not to, and we are all human. I am however, going to keep working on my own drive and determination – after all it has got me this far - and keep referring back to the advice above whenever I am tempted to feel negative.