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9 March 2023
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Reflection on my time in the Inclusive Leadership role with the Trainee Steering Group

Dr Josie Cheetham image

By Josie Cheetham.

Inclusivity should be at the core of everything a leader does. It is a pillar of compassionate leadership, of nurturing innovation, lifting team members and of maximising the power of collaboration amongst many other disparate elements of leadership.

As we move forward through 2022, the FMLM Trainee Steering Group is committed to continue in building upon this work, to continue to outwardly and actively listen. To challenge ourselves, each other and our collective vision, to embrace and champion our own diversity and the diversity that exists within the aspiring junior doctor leader community.

We still live and lead in times ridden with inequity all around us. Nevertheless, we can celebrate and propel ourselves forward for every step to alter inequalities and the pivotal role leadership – and the leadership community as a whole has in catalysing these changes. We can still do this whilst being aware of what we have yet to realise and that the equity already realised can be fast eroded without active efforts to stem this.

Being an inclusive leader and an inclusive team can be unsettling at times. To be inclusive is to be honest and transparent. To see the uncomfortable truths including self, team and organisation-reflections, to bear these, travel through the discomfort and drive forward the change towards a more inclusive future. To step out of the comfort zone we often instinctively strive to find and maintain, the feeling of being familiar and safe with the knowledge we feel to be the truth needed and the context surrounding us. Instead of this, the inclusive leader steps out into the realm of uncertainty, of questioning and of challenges and acknowledges being and leading in a state of there being many unknown unknowns. To be open to truly actively listening- listening then acting. Whilst perhaps not the traditional model of a ‘superhero’ leader, but we now know leadership is more powerful, more realistic and more human than this concept. Leadership is not always comfortable or predictable but the leadership journey towards inclusivity is well worth those uncertain steps forward. It is the morally right path to lead along and brings value for the leadership community in so many ways.

In recognition of this, a little over a year ago, the FMLM’s Trainee Steering Group unanimously decided to create an inclusive leadership role within our group. I was both honoured and excited to become the inaugural member to take up this role. This year has been made even more successful by the collaborative efforts of TSG members, each bringing their own unique insights, experiences, understandings and knowledge bases.

In a single year, the TSG now has an equality, diversity and inclusivity strategy, with a commitment to review and revise at least annually if not more frequently. Research into inclusive leadership fellowship recruitment processes is shortly to be published, a review of the TSG’s recruitment processes and a new inclusive recruitment strategy. We have hosted our first, highly successful Inclusive Leadership webinar, hearing from a diverse range of inspirational leaders, with webinars to come. The TSG have also crafted a Leadership Commitment which now has Trusts and Health Boards across the UK signing up/introducing which helps encourage the foundations for fostering inclusive leadership development.

The TSG’s Leadership Commitment, launched in Winter 2021, sets out feasible ways in which any Trust and Health Board can provide leadership development opportunities for all junior doctors in a way that does not require a junior doctor to invest their own non-working time, personal finances, is not dependant on stage in training, their self-identified gender, ethnicity, disabled status or other protected characteristics. We hope that all Trusts and Health Boards across the UK embrace this Commitment so that equity of leadership development opportunities exists for all junior doctors, regardless of location, career stage, working pattern and personal contacts. These are key steps to lift up junior doctor leadership development towards inclusivity- please join us on this journey towards greater equity.

Contact us at the Trainee Steering Group tsg [at]

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