Allies, champions and critical friends

I have been delivering training sessions for the wonderful Annie Barr (  and I have been so impressed with the delegates. Most of the delegates are working as health care assistants (support workers) in primary care and they are SO motivated and committed.

We have a fabulous resource in skill mix but we need to value and recognise everybody’s contribution.

Can you spot a theme emerging?

I have learnt over the last year that without allies it doesn’t matter how committed and skilled you might be effecting change and improving practice is IMPOSSIBLE. No leader can be successful on their own.

In changing hearts and minds in health care practice and encouraging an improvement/development mind-set you need folk who champion the journey. Without fellow travellers you will only manage one step forward and two steps back – if you are really unlucky you will have colleagues who actively sabotage your work and seek to make sure your best efforts are resisted in an orchestrated and malevolent way. Believe me if people don’t want to change there will be few lengths they won’t go to, to make sure you leave before they do.

It might be tempting to surround yourself with those who agree with your every word and hang on to your wisdom BUT you do need people who will ask questions about issues. Curiosity into motivation and responses to experiences is healthy and can be the route to self-compassion and flourishing. In my recent experience if I had not had such a colleague I may not have walked away when I did – I may have been “tempted” to suffer – after all I might have thought I deserved it. I had a very wise colleague who listened and was not afraid to suggest that I might need to pay attention to how I was feeling. Emotions at work are frowned upon and we are expected to be level headed and detached – this can lead to fear and mistrust of emotional outbursts at work. I was fortunate to have someone who advised me to pay attention to my emotional responses, listen to what it was telling me and  trust that my well-being was more important than staying in post.

I am eternally grateful to that wise advice and that because it resonated with my inner adult rather than the victim child I was able to walk away.(

I will reflect more on this but I needed to share as it is guiding my recovery and I can now see possibilities for the future rather than feeling a dismal failure .


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