Can you teach doctors emotional intelligence?

I come from a family of doctors and nurses but medicine wasn’t my particular vocation. I’ve always been more interested in how people communicate and tell stories which is why I firstly became a radio producer, and then a coach. Recently these two worlds have come together, and I will soon be working with doctors to help them develop their leadership potential.

I am currently working with academics and healthcare professionals on a new Executive Masters in Medical Leadership at Cass Business School to start in September of this year. I have immersed myself in reading about how doctors work and think and I’m pouring over research into physician leadership.

So I’m seeking out doctors to interrogate and asking them ‘What do you wish you had learnt about leadership before you did it?’ I’m also trying to understand how the NHS works, though that will be a long haul.

Based on the research of Dr Amanda Goodall who is Co-Director of the new Masters, the philosophy of the course lies firmly in the belief that the best people to lead the NHS are those who understand its core business, particularly doctors.

I am responsible for the personal development module, which means getting doctors to understand the need for emotional intelligence. That is: understanding yourself, managing yourself, understanding others, and managing your relationships.

The need to recognise and embody the value of EQ has arisen consistently in the research on medical leadership, and it is now seen as vital for doctors in the 21st century.

Gone are the days where a consultant can work as a ‘heroic lone healer’ who operates in a silo of his or her specialism. Today’s job calls for critical evaluation of one’s own strengths and weaknesses, an adaptive leadership style, reflective learning, negotiation and conflict management skills and the courage to speak out when standards or individuals are threatened.

All exciting stuff for those of us who are interested in developing expert leaders.