Understand the silent majority and what they want from their leaders – Dr Janice Bell

Looking inwards first of all, I think we need to get over ourselves with regards to the two GP Colleges. The physicians have multiple sub-Colleges and the RACGP has multiple faculties and special interests. It’s natural.

It’s the conversation that matters most, and that remains problematic while animosity festers.

I, too, was there when the colleges split – I was a registrar and Registrar Liaison Officer. And I’ve watched the relationship since very closely, especially from a training and workforce point of view.

I’ve done my part to work the conversation, too, having seen the impact of the dissonance as well as the consonance.

Looking outwards and towards each other’s organisations, I’d like to think that – with trust – we could among the different entities develop a collective impact plan – not just competition, communication, cooperation, collaboration – true co-design recognising the strengths of each entity.

And if I may lay down a challenge for us – if we can’t or won’t do that, perhaps we should move over and let newer (less weathered, or experienced you might say) members take our place.  There are a lot of very capable, passionate, emotionally intelligent  – if somewhat green – would-be leaders waiting for their chance.

I’d like to think instead we can provide a healthy platform for them, that in turn and in due time they may foster our common intent.

We have to each earn the privilege and invitation to lead, every single day. Leadership is not given unconditionally, infinitely, and it is given – and taken away, by those we can so easily take for granted – our members.

But then we need to know what that plan or intent will deliver! I don’t think any of the organisations truly knows what their constituents need from them, or how important it is to them that each of their many needs are met.

One of the first things we might do together is to understand better that silent majority and what they want from their leaders. I know we all think we already know and want to rave to the next stage to ‘do something’.

But we don’t know, not really. Not what’s really important and unsatisfied among their needs. A survey hasn’t – and won’t – get us there, nor an election or two, nor a referendum; this we know.

There is a way of identifying the important and unsatisfied needs of the majority – we’ve just done it with our registrars supervisors and practice managers, and the results were in several areas quite unexpected.  We learned that the loudest voices have not been that of the majority on many key issues. They surprised the loud voices too.

Kotter’s stages in transformation – explaining why transformation mostly fails – provides a road map that could be helpful in our work. A quote to think about, as we get started – if we are to make a lasting difference we must have an open, courageous and honest conversation that leads us from ego to credo:

“Nations do not distrust each other because they are armed; they are armed because they distrust each other… Peace between nations must be an enduring goal, not a tactical stage in a continuing conflict” ~ Ronald Reagan, 1988 (to Moscow University students, just before the end of the Cold War).

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