Helping Medical Experts become Robust Leaders

As doctors in the frontline of the fight against of COVID-19, Medical heads of departments at UKZN not only carry a heavy clinical load, manage their departments and continue to teach but are also expected to inspire and lead with compassion ensuring overburdened staff are kept motivated.

With this in mind, the College of Health Sciences hosted a Leadership Development workshop for heads of departments and managers in the School of Clinical Medicine (SCM) led by renowned coach and consultant, Mrs Mariane Vorster.

Vorster’s interactive online workshop covered key aspects of leadership development, including management versus leadership, the leadership pipeline, self-reflection, multitasking, emotional intelligence, assumptions stereotypes, conflict, email etiquette and dealing with racism.

The aspect that resonated with the majority of participants was the constant need for self- reflection and “recognising one’s blind spots”.

Said head of Cardiothoracic Surgery Professor Rajhmun Madansein: ‘It’s so important to work on one’s blind spots and always encourage feedback. I intend to create a more supportive environment to allow feedback especially from junior staff. This workshop, which I thoroughly enjoyed, has given me the tools to do this through self-reflection.’

Head of Urology Dr Haroun Patel also found self-reflection key in leading others. ‘This workshop was very useful. It has reminded me that it is important to interact with your staff in a partnership. This is a very refreshing leadership style.’

Dr Linda Visser, Head of Ophthalmology for more than 15 years, found the workshop extremely useful. ‘I really learned a lot despite being in a leadership role for so many years. In fact, I’m amazed at just how much I learned about myself as well. A key lesson I learned is that I don’t delegate enough.’

Apart from developing key leadership skills, the group also held robust discussions on racism. Acting Head of Nuclear Medicine Dr Bawinile Hadebe commented: ‘I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop – the discussions around racism were powerful. It is an important but difficult and sensitive topic to discuss. This workshop has given me the tools to address it more effectively.’

Dean of the School of Clinical Medicine Professor Ncoza Dlova is determined to provide continuous development workshops for all her staff. ‘This was an amazing workshop. It presented us with the tools to reinforce what we already know and this is important as we often forget key skills. For me, the most important learning aspect was that people must be confident about seeking feedback from their staff and students. I also learned that it is important to control one’s self when sending emails to ensure that the message is not toxic.’

Words: MaryAnn Francis

Image: Supplied