Leadership. What is it?



First of all the issue is what do we mean by Leadership?

This blog is in response to comments made on the medical forum GPs Down Under.

In  references in my article AFP Article here

I Referenced a UK Document  about a National Leadership Competency Framework for Doctors.   NHS Leadership Academy  page 9. has the five core domains of leadership.  Its a big document but page 9 is good.

Leadership was defined as a set of competencies    From the above document:  “The Medical Leadership Competency Framework (MLCF) is built on the concept of shared leadership where leadership is not restricted to people who hold designated leadership roles, and where there is a shared sense of responsibility for the success of the organisation and its services.”

We often do see leadership as a role and this may not be what is always required or desired.  So the comment from my colleague on GPDU is entirely appropriate and that is that “not everyone wants to or aspires to or can- participate in Leadership Roles. “ Very true.

The challenge in the discussion is what about those who do wish to have a voice in their profession, but who face individual, workplace or cultural barriers?  Whilst the desire to participate in leadership or not may not necessarily be a gendered issue- the barriers to express that desire may well be.

Way back in 2004 Dame Carol Black commented here about

The dangers of a feminised profession

Her comments were not unlike the recent O and G debate- stirred up controversy of course but were not anti-feminist.

Iona Heath Professor of GP ( and such an eloquent speaker) wrote  a response to Dame Carol Blacks comments.

Essentially the point of both women is that

“Continuing unequal status of women may reduce the influence of the profession”

Heath I. Women in medicine. BMJ Editorial. 2004;329(7463):412-3.

In other words:

Who argues policy and procedures for Medicine?  Will it only be from the point of view of a traditionally male stereotyped bloke who has the archetypal “wife” supporting his role and after hours political activism.    The issue is that part time medical practice is seen as a norm for “women” and not so much for men although this is changing.  Without representations form the diverse membership (and I hesitate to say female gender is part of diversity when it is 50% of the population) then diverse opinions and needs are lost. Carers are seen as “slackers” for not being full time in the work force.

It is every couples choice how they might manage this but a “choice” is a loosely used word and a National Child Care policy is long overdue in Australia.

Re thinking how we go about providing support for both men and women who are caring for others and bringing the domestic life into the work life and not the other way around would be a start.  The Domestic Life and its multitude of needs are absent and invisible in the workplace. Yet they save the country a fortune in voluntary labour and GDP.   Any gender can be unfairly  discriminated against as an individual family if domestic work creeps into the workspace too often.

So there are policy and procedures that this Country needs to have not just for the Medical Community but for all working families. Have a look at equity within the workplace as per Norway and other countries who are doing this much better than Australia.  Legislation changes discrimination.  With a national child care policy for example, we wouldn’t blame individuals and the choice would truly be one of choice and not of necessity reinforced by traditional gender roles.

I havent got time to clarify issues of

  • part time medical practice and its necessity for burnout prevention.

See here : 1.     Stevenson AD, Phillips CB, Anderson KJ. Resilience among doctors who work in challenging areas: a qualitative study. The British journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners. 2011;61(588):e404.

  • Nor about developing confidence for those (often women) who need practice and assistance in developing a voice.
  • Nor did I get time to say that technology can’t help women/carers attend after hours meetings if their time at home is not protected.
  • Nor did I get to discuss the role of women in politics and why that might not be a desired outcome by some supported by privilege -hence the rather aggressive at times push back against ‘feminism’.

Another blog for another day.

My point is we are all leaders and it’s important not to be silent or absent even if you don’t have a leadership role. At some time in your medical life or at home- life will ask of you to advocate.  Your privilege as an educated man or woman is to speak up on behalf of those who cannot.

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