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Building confidence

After the earliest wave of Covid-19 in 2020, Amanda provided pro bono leadership support to the NHS. Her client, a Director at the frontline in the NHS was overwhelmed in a vast role that she admitted “at times feels too big to manage – or perhaps to manage my way!” Although, before Covid, she had turned round the in-patient service and recruited and retrained staff, she had been forced into crisis management in a sometimes toxic environment.

It was, the client confirmed to Amanda before their first virtual coaching session: “already an extremely challenging patient environment. Then the Coronavirus struck. Staff and patients in one ward were affected and we had to set-up two new wards, one for isolation and one for Covid. Doctors went off sick and nurses needed to manage current care/Covid with very low staff numbers and a lack of necessary equipment. I used my skills to redeploy staff, called-in retired friends to rejoin, joined the Covid work myself and worked 70 hour weeks. We did a great job, but now feel burnt out, affected by the trauma and the loss of a patient, the fear of a new wave. Post Covid, we have so much left to do.

“I feel overwhelmed and need guidance to enable me to start to prioritise. I want to achieve a sense a calm around all of these areas, whilst continuing to provide a quality service. Above all, I want to feel I have a firm grip on the task in hand.”

Amanda’s coaching objectives were to enable her NHS client to survive in the role at this crisis moment, by developing and amending management and leadership skills in ways that allowed her to cope and care for own wellbeing. “She needed time to stop and think and to work things out for herself.·I added the tools and tricks of the trade: how to give difficult feedback; time management and delegation techniques; dealing with loss of a sense of her own power and finding confidence again; getting clarity around action plans and breaking what seemed overwhelming into small, manageable steps.”

Alongside that, Amanda provided challenge and feedback, inviting her client to think what might be ahead for a second or third wave of the pandemic – reviewing lessons learned, empowering her team, managing upwards.·“She also wanted to think strategically about her long-term career and where best to add value. So we also looked at limiting (self) beliefs and how the overplay of perfectionism was holding her back.”

Thanks to these pro bono sessions to date, the client is now acting like a leader and owning her position – which raises her professional profile with others. She confirms she delegates more and is less anxious and more assured in her role, with increased levels of self-awareness. “It’s such a relief,” she says. “I feel empowered, less reactive and much more confident, with the tools to be more robust in conversations with difficult people. I am in a much better place and can protect myself more. At a personal level, I have more order in life and am getting home earlier!”

With all that have come more ideas for developing and managing her people, cascading ideas and techniques through the teams. In turn, this supports the patients and ensures that her key aim of providing better service to ensure quality care is being delivered. And this case study, she confirms: “really summarises my journey with your support to move from that rather fragile, chaotic manager to an ambitious and effective leader”.

NHS Director, community care

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EIA Senior Practitioner