What can clinical leaders learn from reality TV programme The Apprentice? Ann Elliott finds out

Last summer, Stephen Harrhy, director of corporate development for the recently formed Cwm Taf trust, set a 48-hour challenge in the style of the BBC programme The Apprentice to a group of nine clinical leaders currently undertaking the multidisciplinary clinical leadership programme.

The challenge was designed give the team a chance to use the skills they developed during the programme in the areas of leadership and team building.

“The team was challenged to form a partnership with the charity Crossroads”

The team was challenged to form a partnership with the charity Crossroads and was asked to:

  • raise at least £500, using at least three different methods;
  • raise the profile of carers and the Crossroads charity;
  • redesign the existing information leaflet and posters the charity uses to promote its services;
  • write a press release to maximise publicity of the event.

The team appointed a project manager and set about the tasks. This tested their problem solving and decision making skills and their ability to work outside their comfort zones.

Networking skills

They negotiated sponsorship and donations of gifts for a raffle and tombola and formed links with local stores and businesses. They used networks to the maximum, even obtaining the services of rugby player Matthew Rees.

All areas of the challenge were either exceeded or met. The team successfully raised more than £2,000 for Crossroads and learned some important lessons.

  • Effective planning, preparation and evaluation are paramount.
  • All team members need to be aware of their roles.
  • Set out realistic goals with specific timescales.
  • Effective channels of communication are a must to ensure success.
  • A back-up plan is needed.
  • A common team identity needs to be maintained, especially when the team is split between more than one site.
  • Flexibility of team members in their role is important to allow roles to be rotated if necessary.
  • Continuous review is needed.
  • Internal and external communication networks need to be used effectively.

The team concluded: “The experience of this challenge will assist us when leading our diverse teams.”

The monies raised for Crossroads enabled them to purchase a number of training packages to develop and further enhance the skills of their staff. In addition, they have bought a new DVD recorder which has enabled them to run other training materials to support staff.