Jim (Learned helplessness) was faced with what seemed an overwhelming task. 

This is quite a common experience for clinicians presented with managerial/leadership challenges; after all, they’ve rarely been trained how to deal with them.   But, in my experience, it is perfectly possible to think of managerial issues (notice the use of the word ‘issue’ rather than problem – sounds less negative!) as if they were clinical ones.  In other words,  use the clinical, diagnostic skills that have been learned over many years and apply them creatively. 

For example, when faced with a patient, the clinician will apply a tried-and-tested diagnostic approach, namely, history, examination, investigations, treatment.  ‘History’ means gathering information about the ‘presenting complaint’ (in Jim’s managerial case the ’18 week’ policy).  So, in the same way that patients’ relatives and GPs  can give vital information about the patient, there will be other people in the organisation, or wider health community (e.g. PCT, SHA, etc), who will already know a lot about the 18-week issue.  There will also be information on the Internet, e.g. the 18-week website.

Jim is not alone in his task.  He can utilise others’ help.  I’m surprised how often clinicians try to ‘go it alone’.  There’s usually no need, indeed, it can be quite counter-productive.  Tips on collaboration


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