Authenticated user menu

15 January 2014
Total views

The Big Green Door

Excited yet just a little daunted, Janice pushed open the big green door and entered the Department for Making People Work Harder. The horn-rimmed spectacles of the fearsome PA to the CEO glinted in the afternoon sun as Janice announced her arrival.

“I’m….Janice Goodstaff. Here to see Mr Amplewaist….about the leadership programme?”

The PA wordlessly looked from Janice, to her computer screen, and back to Janice.

“Mr Amplewaist is running late – he’s with Mrs Overspend in the Finance Refresh Committee. Take a seat.”

Fine. Janice didn’t want a tea or coffee anyway. Sitting on a very low leatherette chair outside the very large black door to Mr Amplewaists’s office, she idly browsed through a selection of very old, careworn HSJs scattered over a coffee table. On some of the articles, mainly those concerning culture and quality improvement, scrawls of red pen and occasional expletives enlivened the text.

After a very few minutes, Mr Amplewaist’s door groaned and clunked open, and the corpulent gentleman himself filled the entrance.

“Janet! “ he exclaimed, coming forward to shake her hand. “Sorry to have kept you. It’s that blasted financial refresh. Why are they haemorrhaging money I don’t have on services I can’t support that nobody knows how to commission? I should run that CCG myself. Anyhow – never mind all that big-boy stuff, Janet – come in. Now then, what was it I was seeing you about?”

Janice quietly opened her bag, and produced a small, neat sheaf of papers that described the leadership programme she wanted to undertake. There was a supporting letter from her line manager and a brief outline of how it would be accommodated in her job plan.

“I’d like to talk to you about this programme, Mr Amplewaist. You’ve probably heard of this initiative to get staff engaged in leadership development? It brings lots of benefits to the organization. For instance…”

“To be honest Janet, I’ve been so pre-occupied with this deep-dive around our operational challenges, I’ve had no time to look at any of this….stuff. Is it expensive?”

“There’s no cost to the organization, Mr Amplewaist. You see, it’s all funded…”

“Hettie! Hettie! Is that you I can hear out there?” cried Mr Amplewaist into the middle distance. “At last, here’s a course for staff which doesn’t cost us anything! Sorry, Janet, sorry….I though I heard Mrs Overspend out there. Now, where were we? Ah yes. This course… see, Janet…it’s like this. I think these courses are all well and good. I really do. But – well – we need you here. On the frontline, I mean.  You know better than I do – well, perhaps you don’t, but you know what I mean – you know better than I do how busy we are. We’re falling over on practically every known measure. And what the regulators tell me….time and again….is that I can only get us out of special measures if I really press hard, lean hard, on every staff member to give it all they’ve got. Because if we all work hard on this, Janet, we can get ourselves back in the black. I know we can.  Oh I know that leadership is the new big thing. I know there’s transformation-this and innovation-that. But we can do all that when we’re a bit more settled. What I need from valuable staff like you ,Janet, is your support to help me…well…lead us out of this. Will you do it, Janet? Will you help us do that?”

Janice quietly collected the papers together. It had, perhaps, always been a step too far. A leap of faith she was unreasonable to expect any sane boss to take in the current climate.  The horn-rimmed spectacles followed her as she left the offices and took to the stairs.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

This was a story that Janice delighted in telling her colleagues a few years later.  She never had liked that big green door, so as soon as she was appointed to the CEO position, Janice had it painted pink.  It certainly was an ice-breaker when excited yet daunted staff came to see her to ask about leadership development. The portrait of Mr Amplewaist on the wall was another. But only the cheekiest of visitors ever enquired if he’d actually worn those horn-rimmed glasses, or whether some later CEO with a sense of fun had added them in black felt tip.

 or  Register to add a comment

About the author

Darren Kilroy's picture

Darren Kilroy

Darren Kilroy FCEM M.Ed. Ph.D. is a Consultant in Emergency Medicine in Cheshire, and Director for Network Leadership and Development in Unscheduled Care. He is also Hon. Senior Lecturer in Emergency Care at Manchester Metropolitan University, and Clinical Lead for Unscheduled Care at NHS Stockport. His main areas of interest are the challenges of clinical and managerial engagement around emergent clinical commissioning models, and the role of clinical leadership within transformational change.


Array ( [0] => sitewide [1] => advert_external_leaderboard [2] => not_front_desktop [3] => advert_external_wideskyscraper [4] => comments [5] => comments_login_prompt [6] => jobs_content_pages [7] => node-social-accelerators [8] => node_blog [9] => related_content [10] => advert_internal_desktop )