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Dr Lisa Ayers | My CSO WISE Fellowship Journey

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Having recently returned from maternity leave, the WISE CSO Fellowship came at a perfect time in my career.

31 May 2018

Many people experience concerns when returning from an extended period of leave and I was no exception. Due to a major restructure in my department, I returned to a more senior role, which in itself brought additional challenges. I also felt the common experience of ‘imposter syndrome’ when trying to re-establish my clinical skills and learn new processes that had been introduced during my absence.

The Career Development course provided in the initial months of the fellowship gave me an exciting opportunity to evaluate my current role and responsibilities, as well as considering different leadership, communication and presentation styles. This course made me question my leadership style and show me ways I could develop, whilst staying authentic to the person I am. The course also provided some great techniques for shifting that feeling of ‘imposter syndrome’ and acknowledging the skills that I had.

The feedback from the 360 Leadership model also set a benchmark for assessing my current leadership style, as well as providing a great opportunity for self-evaluation and reflection. The feedback I received was very useful in terms of understanding how I am perceived by peers, team members and managers, and provided clarity in the areas I particularly need to develop.

An additional benefit of this Fellowship has been meeting, spending time with and getting to know the other Fellows. They have been a constant source of support and advice throughout the last few months. They are an inspiring group of women who face similar work and life challenges with strength and resilience.

Many individuals working in the NHS, both women and men, have additional caring responsibilities outside of work. Instead of these responsibilities being considered a hindrance to their career, they should be embraced as they provide valuable skills transferable for those working in a caring profession. These skills may not be listed in a traditional job description, but they are still vital to the success of many healthcare teams.

Working for the NHS brings a whole range of challenges including constant changes to standards and a drive for improvement, with the constraints of limited funding. I have always found this to be an incredibly inspiring environment to work within, however it requires strong leadership in order to engage everyone. The WISE CSO Fellowship has given me the opportunity to develop and move closer to the type of leader that I ultimately want to be.

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