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Thriving in the NHS - five tips for healthcare leaders

Redundancies, reduced budgets and endless uncertainty. Being a senior manager in the NHS certainly brings its challenges. But there is a way to turn almost every high-pressure situation into an opportunity to shine, as Judith Krichefski explanis.

In a relentlessly evolving environment such as the NHS, leaders and senior managers need to be able to navigate changes, adapt at short notice and stay at the top of their game.

Mental toughness equips leaders with the tools they need to manage stress and pressure, optimise well-being, perform to a consistently high level, and effectively support the people around them – despite changing goal posts and environment.

Mental toughness transforms obstacles into challenges, and turns negative stress into positive energy. The good news is you already have the tools you require – you just need to know how to utilise them.

Top five tips for mental toughness

1. Focus only on what you can control 

Many people waste valuable energy and precious time trying to control too many things. Understand what you can control and you’ll feel in charge of your own life and career. Save energy by learning to let go of things outside your control. Think about things differently:

  • Things you can control
  • Things you can influence
  • Things you can do nothing about

2. Get better at saying no

Do you constantly agree to do things for other people, outside of your job? The more we say yes, the more we give away our time – and we allow ourselves to be taken for granted. Saying no is being assertive, but it does require a certain type of confidence. Learn to value yourself and what you have to offer. Find a polite, manageable way to say no, for example, “let’s see if I can help when I’ve finished working on this task”. 

3. Break down your goals into manageable chunks

When goals are too big to visualise, they quickly become overwhelming and even frightening. Try breaking each goal down into small steps – steps you can actually see yourself achieving. Work backwards and ask yourself: “what was the last thing I had to do to achieve this goal?”

4. Discover your courage

Mental confidence isn’t about mindless affirmations. But it is directly affected by the way you think about your potential. Find your top strength – one that proves you can achieve greatness – and combine this with the goal you want to achieve. Combined, this will create your identity statement – a positive declaration that will banish self-doubt and help you achieve your top-level goal.

5. Create your confidence biography

Past experiences will either strengthen or undermine your confidence. Creating a confidence biographywill help you to recall things in a more positive light. To do so, think back to past accomplishments at work and in your private life. Identify where you have excelled and where have you struggled. Understand how these experiences have shaped who you are.

For more tips on mental toughness, visit 

Readers' comments (1)

  • phil kenmore

    For anyone interested in Resilience more generally there is some interesting work by Andrew Shatte including a free self-score resilience inventory in his book.

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