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Learning about leadership, inclusion & emotional intelligence as an Aspiring Psychologist

by Dr Marianne Trent

Welcome along to the aspiring psychologist blog. This blog post is an adaption of the 31st podcast episode, which you can also watch on youtube. Today's episode came about from a conversation with a LinkedIn connection, because I love networking with people and we were talking about improving access in psychology. That's where the idea for this podcast episode came about today. I am joined by a lovely man called Kul Mahay who will talk us through leadership, change, inclusion, and all of those good things. I really hope you'll find it useful. As it is relevant to the conversation, some Ums and Ahs are left in this interview! Embrace your Ums and Ahs!

Dr Marianne Trent:

Kul, thank you for joining us!

Kul Mahay:

No, thank you for having me. It's an absolute pleasure.

Dr Marianne Trent:

Lovely. So, could you tell the audience a little bit about you and your background if that's okay?

Kul Mahay:

Yes, absolutely. So, I spent 32 years in the police service from the age of 16. Yes. I was a 16 spotty face kid. When I joined the police, that was back in January 1983. It's all I ever wanted to do from the age of 10. It was like my dream. And back in those days, you used to have full-time police cadets.

I applied to 26 police forces and I just committed to whichever one would say yes to me first, I just joined.

Then it happened to be in Derby. So I upsticks from my concrete jungle in Hampton and landed in the Brun, a beautiful Greenfields of Derby and been here ever since.

Dr Marianne Trent:

Amazing. Oh, I feel like there's lots and lots of questions. I can ask you about mental health in policing. Oh goodness. Mental health in the people you look after in policing, but that's probably a separate issue. So, how did you get from being working in the police field to where you are now?

Kul Mahay:

Well, my journey in the police service was quite an interesting one, given that the kind of job that we were doing, but also my own personal journey.

When I joined the police service, I was literally a brown spec in a sea of white.

Two thirds of my service were spent at leadership levels towards the end, my last third in the police service. And my eight, nine years, I was what they call a goal commander sitting at superintendent chief superintendent level, but a goal commander for all major incidents or critical incidents. I was the person, I guess, where all the problems would be sitting on my shoulders. If something went wrong, I'd be responsible for that. So, I've been responsible for major public disorder issues, firearms, incidents, bomb, hoaxes, bomb threats, major football matches, and things of that nature. As well as managing my day-to-day department of, you know, up to 400 people at a time.

What I learned in the police service was this how powerful good leadership can be and how it can impact and empower people, but also how it can destroy people's lives. One of the first things I used to say to any leadership team that I would take over in a new department is that

we need to be mindful of the language that comes out of our mouths, because it can either empower people, inspire people and help people move forward, or it can destroy people's lives and they will take it away home with them and they'll infect their families and their friends with how we treat them.

So I realised for me that people in leadership are the concept of people is very important. And when I left the police service, I wanted to help other organisations create those kind of cultures and those conversations where there was trust throughout the organisation, greater performance in the organisation, as a result, the people became much more emotionally intelligent and stopped using that as a glib phrase to truly understand what emotional intelligence in practice looks like. And now I have the great honour pleasure of teaching other people, exactly that I work with leaders on a one-to-one coaching basis. I design programs for universities, for organisations and I help organisations change their culture. And I'm sort of in my sweet spot, I guess.

Dr Marianne Trent:

It found, you just ended up where you needed to be. Tell us a little bit about how you've been working alongside doctoral programs lately.

Kul Mahay:

Well, I mean, this came sort of outta the blue for me really. And I'll have to admit to some imposter syndrome kicking in for me because essentially I was being asked to teach psychology to psychologists. And there was this internal conversation inside myself as to whether I could actually do that. But the way it happened was this:

I'd been working for a number of universities who had asked me to come in to design programs for them and then deliver those programs to help those underrepresented groups of members of staff to aspire towards more senior levels in the organisations to increase the representation.

So I designed, for this particular university, which was university of Lincoln, I designed a program which was a very pragmatic program based upon the 26 competency areas that we talk about in emotional and social emotional intelligence, as a member of the Institute of social, emotional intelligence over in America, I drill down deep into these 26 competency areas, and pulled out some pragmatic tools if you like and techniques leadership techniques that I could teach people.

For me, any program that I design has to have some pragmatism involved within there. People need to be able to grab hold of something and then be able to apply that in their lives.

So we brought this program together for the underrepresented groups in this university and we saw some incredible success as a result of it.

It was a six module program spread over about three months. And we saw people being promoted and applying for much more senior positions, and that the university itself was seeing this representation, this diverse representation that they had aspired to. So a few months later I got approached by the Trent doctoral program, which I think was a collaboration with the schools of psychology from Lincoln and from university of Nottingham. And they have, they also said,

"Look, we've got some underrepresentation as well. So could you run the same program for our postgraduates to help them to aspire towards the doctoral program?”

So we ran the same program with two cohorts of assistant psychologists. What we saw at the end of it all was, I think we had four or five people who were successful in applying for their doctoral program and those that weren't successful, or those that chose not to apply actually went on to see some level of success in the work that they were doing. So we had a number of people being promoted, and we had one in particular who reached out to me and she said,

“Hey, I went for a job interview at a much much more senior level. I used all the techniques that we'd learned on the program. I got told I was unsuccessful, but the reason I was unsuccessful was apparently because I was too good. Instead I was offered the job of the manager for the post that I'd applied for.”

So she went off and got a bit of a bonus job, I guess!

Dr Marianne Trent:

That's a great result. You must have felt absolutely thrilled, but that, and I guess my own experience with the aspiring psychologist membership is just, it's incredible when you get to follow stories and when you see your work, make a real difference to real people's lives, it's really, the sort of thing. And I guess you'll have those memories from the police as well, you know, and throughout your career, when you feel like you've been able to make a difference, it's just like golden nugget that you get to keep forever. And it's really lovely.

Kul Mahay:

Oh, there's no substitute for that. And stories are the things that keep memories alive for us. You know, when we put a memory in the context of a story for me, I think it brings it alive. So in much of the programs that I deliver stories sit at the very, very heart. And one of the modules on the program that I delivered was based around public speaking. I mean, I teach public speaking. So on this particular module, all of the candidates, all the delegates had a very intense day of learning how to do public speaking. And one of the elements was how do you structure a story? And for me, a story has to have a beginning, a middle and an end. The beginning is really setting the scene and talking about the adversary. The act two if you like, part two of

the story is really about the journey that you undertake with the ups and downs,

if you think of the Hobbit and all of the things that the Hobbit had to do in the Lord of the rings, and then finally set realisation and implementing this newfound knowledge and wisdom, and then what happened as a result of that.

Kul Mahay:

So those are the three actual storytelling, and I think storytelling is critical to any learning that we ever undertaken our lives.

Dr Marianne Trent:

I love that. I love that. And as you're, as you're talking. I was just thinking maybe Kul can get me to stop saying, um, <laugh>.

Kul Mahay:

<laugh> here's the thing Marianne, I still say Um! I purposely now do it, uh, and the reason I just did it there, and the reason why I do it is because it's real, you know, when we're having a conversation, we say um, and we don't think twice of it. So why should we think about it when we are in front of a camera or on a stage I have delivered, I would say in the region of 200 keynote presentations in the last two years of lockdown. And I guess I would've umed and ah’d during every single one. You know, I've done television interviews, I've spoken on stages at one point,

I think I spoke to a thousand people and I um’d and ah’d because I think it's natural and people are drawn to people who come across as being really natural and authentic.

And I think that's the new superpower in this changing world in which we exist, that people are looking for, people are drawn to authenticity. So why, why be that, you know, the absolutely polished individual when you can be real.

Dr Marianne Trent:

I love doing it. We are embracing my ums when I listened. I think it's the trauma episode of this podcast. I was obviously wanting to make sure I handle, handle it really sensitively. So I really slowing it down. And honestly, I feel like I need to do an like an, Bo like bingo, where people listen to it, count the ums, and then there's a prize for whoever gets the right number. Cuz there are lots of ums, but it is a great episode as well. So I will embrace the ums. Thank you.

Kul Mahay:

I mean, one way of reducing the number of ums. I mean I would always say don't eliminate them. That's my personal take on it. Uh, but you can reduce them just simply by slowing down.

So the reason why we um and ah is to give ourselves thinking time and space, right? So rather than um and ah just pause, just pause and allow yourself time to think.

And actually when it comes out in the final recording, it doesn't sound anywhere near as bad as you think it is in the moment of taking that pause. So we're so scared of pausing. We wanna fill every single gap with some kind of noise, but actually when you take that pause and you listen back, you think, wow, that sounds pretty good. Uh, so all the best interviews, all the best presenters in the world know how to take a pause.

Dr Marianne Trent:

Good. I will bear that in mind. I don't notice my ums at the time that I do them. I think it is anyone I'm editing back. You know, when you're editing the podcast, you're like, oh, there's a lot of ums there <laugh>, but yeah, I'm gonna embrace them. And I'm also gonna, yeah, just think more mindfully about that. Um, I know that my audience will have listened to you saying, you know, there's these key concepts in emotional intelligence, don't expect you to go through them all, but could you give us like a flavour of a couple of your favourites of the key components of these?

Kul Mahay:

I think these will resonate with a lot of people. So let's think about emotional intelligence as almost like a mountain. So you have the bit that you can see and then the bit that goes underneath that you really didn't know was there, or you didn't know how it was made up. So the bit that most people know about when it comes to emotional intelligence are, is that it's made up of four quadrants. Okay. Now each one of these quadrants is critically important in any leadership journey. So the, those four quadrants self-awareness any leader worth their salt should have, uh, the ability, the constant ability to reflect inwardly reflect. And as a consequence of that, be able to move onto the second quadrant, which is self-management. Now let me throw some examples in here. So it makes sense. So for example, despite the fact that, uh, I did 32 years in police service be I've got nearly three decades worth of leadership experience behind me.

I am still constantly curious and I'm still growing. So I recently was honoured to have been invited into a very, very select society of leaders. It's called the society of leadership fellows in Windsor castle. There's only 250 fellows in the whole world. So for me to have been chosen, I was like, wow, you know, where did this come from? So I had my first opportunity to go to a physical meeting. And it was just a few days ago. I think it was last Friday and it was a beautiful summer's day. And I drove to Windsor castle and I drove there. I got a security pass. So I could walk into those areas that other people couldn't walk into. And I just found myself as I'm looking over this Ballas trade and I'm looking across the field and I could see eating, eating college in the distance, I'm thinking, wow, where have I landed?

But the whole day was incredibly deep for me because they took us. They helped us to the concept of that day was crafting your story as a leader. And the idea was to explore where you've been in terms of your learning, your understanding, your values, your visions, and to under, and to follow that story through to where you are right now. So at the conclusion of the day, it was, where are you right now? And we were asked to write down about three or four paragraphs describing where we were right now. Now I've got that written down here in front of me. I found myself just sitting down and I just wrote, I had it done in five minutes. I just wrote about three or four paragraphs in a language that I wouldn't ordinarily have used. But I remember one phrase that I used.

I said: I find myself looking at myself as if I were in a glass box, such as similar to the one in crystal maze, where there is air being pumped into this box. And this ticker tape, literally all around me and on every piece of ticker tape is the word opportunity.

Those that I grab, I own those that I don't, I don't worry about because there is so much opportunity in my hand right now that I can actually do anything that I want with it. And, and it's true to where I am right now, just lately in, in the last year, I have been involved in all sorts of leadership development programs. I've carried out cultural diagnostic audits, uh, of organisations. I co-created a, a police drama. That's being filmed as we speak right now by the BBC in Scotland. I mean, I never thought that would happen.

Uh, and I've learned the philosophy for me in life is just to say yes to everything. And when I say yes to everything, all the things I want to be, that that excite me will come my way and some will drop off the edge, but a lot of them will stick and we'll just go forward. And it's created this abundant life. So leadership awareness self-awareness is critically important. Self-management is really about understanding, okay, so what are the habits? What are the things that don't serve me and what am I gonna do about them? So this is really hard. This is stuff that you have to give up where you all, where you're creating new habits. So when I wrote my book smash the habit, it was really about physical habits. You know, 20 years ago, I was a big smoker, big drinker, big meaty to I was the guy.

If I went into a restaurant, I had to have the biggest stake on the menu. And overnight I stopped drinking, smoking, eating, meat, fish, eggs, and I have never turned back seven years ago. I gave up drinking, fizzy, pop, sugary drinks, uh, tea and coffee overnight. And I've never gone back at six years ago. I gave up drinking. You must have had some withdrawal, headaches of drinking of all of that. Do you know what? I genuinely cannot remember if I had it. I must have had something, but my passion was so strong that I would've just ridden over it. And this is to say that I'm not unique. It's just that my, the clarity of thought was so powerful for me that, uh, I was much more committed. And that's what quadrant two of emotional intelligence is all about. Quadrant three is saying, okay, now that I've fixed myself, now let's look outside of myself.

So quadrant three is all about social awareness, really understanding how the world works around you.

So if you are in an organisation, for example, uh, or let's assume that you're going for a doctor or program, this is one of the things I taught the, the, the, the, the, the delegates that came onto the program. I said, what are the expectations? Do you think of you being on a doctoral program? What are the, the hoops that you have to jump through? What policies are there, what givens are there that you have to achieve, and how many of you have ever tried that and still failed? And a lot of them put their hands up. I said, okay, so what else is that? What, what is underneath the surface? What are the nuances? What is the language that goes on? What are the groups that you can go and visit, that you can align yourself with?

What relationships can you develop? What conversations can you have that actually increases your level of knowledge, your overall level of knowledge. And it's the same in organisations. A lot of people get frustrated in organisations say, oh, um, I'm, I don't fit here. You know, be, and, and I will never get promoted. And the reason why they're getting frustrated is because they don't understand the nuances of the organisation. And this is not about nepotism. It's just the nuances, because

wherever there are human beings, you will always find these subconscious unconscious biases that exist because it's a natural facet of being a human being.

So start understanding that kind of self and finally, and probably the most important, and probably the most powerfully forget, right. Is relationship building. Who do you reach out to, to build one-on-one relationships, deep lasting relationships. I'm an introvert by nature. Despite the fact that I can stand on a stage and speak to a thousand people, my introversion, uh, is such that I prefer one-on-one conversations, but when I meet people, I develop strong, deep lasting relationships.

And that's who I am. But when you do that, then you'll find that

people will elevate you as you elevate other people. People will recommend you as you recommend people, your relationships become much, much of a higher quality.

So those are just the four quadrants. Now, beyond those four quadrants sit there's 26 competency areas. So within the 26 competency areas, there's, there's all sorts like personal power is a really big one. For me. Personal power was the, the one competency area that was actually pulling my overall EQ score down. I have a very high EQ score only because I've been working on it. Not because I'm some kind of a, uh, an, you know, superhero or something like that. I used to have a poor EQ, uh, uh, uh, sort of profile, uh, but I've worked on it over the years, but this one competency is still dragging it down and personal power is really about your relationship with you.

What kind of conversations are you having with you? So we talk about imposter syndrome. We talk about self-esteem all of that fits within this concept of personal power. So we need to find out how do we improve?

How can we improve, uh, our self-esteem, how can we have better quality conversations with ourselves? Uh, how can we build a better relationship with ourselves? That that is as good as the relationships that we have with other people. Sometimes we are our worst enemy and we can be the biggest bully, uh, to ourselves. And yet we wouldn't look to, uh, wouldn't to tolerate bullying in, in anybody else. So, for me, this is about changing language and constantly being aware of the language that we're using with ourselves on a day to day basis, and learning how to reframe that language, challenge, that language, uh, uh, and sometimes if the language cannot be changed, then it's about watching your actions because that language will lead to actions or inaction.

So watching your actions really policing your mind, using the analogy from my past, uh, using policing your mind and policing your actions. So if you are thinking is not of a good quality, you adjust that. If that's not a, if, if you're not able to adjust that, then it's actually looking at the action. So you might find yourself doing something or not doing something as a case maybe, and saying, actually, that's not good for me. So I need to get off my backside and I need to go. And, you know, we were talking about LinkedIn a while ago, uh, Marianne, and we were talking about improving our profiles on LinkedIn. I thought to myself, I really don't want to do this, but I need to do it. So let's get it done. So that's my attitude in life now to overcome my personal power issues.

I just tell myself the job needs, do it, get it done. So I've coined a phrase, which you might see up here, do it. Now. It says, #doitnow. Yeah. And for me it, the moment I think about doing something, whether it's grasping an opportunity or doing something that I really don't want to do, Brian, Tracy will call it, eating your frog, doing a task. That's unpleasant. I just get it done. And I get it done in the here and now do it now. Uh, and that philosophy has served me well. I used to be the worst procrastinator in the world. Uh, but now I, at least I get things done, you know,

Dr Marianne Trent:

Absolutely, it's really powerful stuff. And, you know, reflecting on what you've said, you know, I trained in the doctoral program between 2008 and 2011, and it was very much about upskilling us to have the necessary skills, to be a good enough clinician with, um, our clients, our mental health clients when we were in the room, but

there wasn't really much of an emphasis on compassion and self-talk and the quality of your thoughts.

And I really have spent time since I've been supporting a aspiring psychologist, really trying to warm up the compassion, warm up the temperature of the water and encourage people to look after themselves because often there won't be anyone coming to rescue you. And I think I really hope that the doctoral programs are gonna start embracing and doing some more of that as well. So there was personal development, there was a personal tutor relationship, but in terms of the stuff I needed to get me through life, you know, in terms of becoming a parent and losing a dad and, you know, managing a busy, um, you know, caseload and teams and stepping into leadership roles, when I hadn't really been taught how to do that, compassion is needed.

You know, like you said, you've had imposter syndrome and, and even me as a qualified psychologist, I've been qualified, uh, 10 years over 10 years. Um, you still have imposter syndrome, you know, of course, absolutely. And that's okay, but that's really normal. It's just part of having these really tricky human brains of ours. And so I really hope that with your support, and the support of other people that have got compassionate voices in the field, that we can equip fully qualified clinical psychologist and other people with life skills that help them to be able to navigate their own life, which then help people to navigate their clients' lives as well.

Kul Mahay:

Absolutely. You know, this whole issue of imposter syndrome. Uh, we, we talk about it as if we are the only people that suffer from it.

I would suggest that 90% of the people that you meet on a day to day basis will have some level of imposter syndrome.

I recall when I was a senior police officer and a, a highly, highly specialised, uh, critical incident gold commander, I was like at the top end, the very top end of any major incident, I was, uh, I'd been on so many courses. I was highly experienced. And, you know, I, I thankfully thank touch would had never made a mistake in that sense, uh, where somebody's life was at risk, but do you know what every single time with every single incident there was a touch of imposter syndrome. So in whichever field you're in, I, I would suspect that at some point in time, if we are not guarding the gates of our mind, the imposter syndrome will creep through.

So we need to be prepared all the time. We need to be alert all the time for these, this negative language, these limiting beliefs, uh, creeping in, and we need to have some kind of a strategy to, to deal with them. Uh, uh, and when it comes to emotional intelligence and EQ, I think we have been conditioned to believe that technical skills, qualifications, and IQ are everything that you need in life to be successful in life, but that's not true as you've just quite rightly identified there, IQ technical skills and qualification will get you to a certain point. But if beyond that point, you want to be successful, then it has to be about EQ. It has to be about how good is the conversation that you are having with you. How good are the conversations that you're having with other people? How good are you at understanding the social context in the environment in which you live with or operate, uh, and how well can you manage your behaviour or manage or perceive the emotions in other people?

Kul Mahay:

How well can you read a situation? How well can you read people? How well can you communicate? What kind of language do you use? What's your tonality like? Uh, what's your connectability, like all of these kind of things are absolutely critical, important, and you've touched upon, uh, something very important Marianne.

I absolutely believe that when you have high levels of emotional intelligence from that, you also build high levels of emotional resilience.

So when you do under go these very testing and challenging times that let's face it, we all will or do. At some point, I literally have lost count of how many dead bodies I've seen or how many post-mortems I've been to that emotional resilience comes. Doesn't just come automatically. It can be built over time when you learn how to identify your thoughts and your emotions and how they impact on your thinking and then learn how to make friends with yourself so that you, your emotions don't serve as the chimpanzee, as, uh, Steve Peters often talks about in these Chimp Paradox. It's not some wild creature inside your brain running wild. So you become irrational. You have to allow your prefrontal cortex to kick in. So you can make these rational, logical, empathic decisions in life.

Dr Marianne Trent:

Mm yeah, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So really golden stuff, Kul, um, have you got like top tips for, if people want to like make a change, that's gonna make a big change for them? What would be like your take home piece of advice?

Kul Mahay:

Well, I would suggest, um, something around self-awareness is critical in this very, very fast world in which we exist. It's very off, very, very hard nowadays to actually sit down, put the phones away, all of these distracting, uh, things away, and actually sit down with a pen and paper. And in doing that really analyse where you've been and where you intend to go and where you are right now. And within that, it's almost like doing a SWAT analysis on yourself.

What are your strengths in everything that you've ever done and everything that you could ever do? What are the weaknesses in everything that you've ever experienced?

Um, what you, what you could do in the future, what could be your future weaknesses, but in doing the weaknesses, I would suggest that you, you look for evidence-based thinking we can make up all the weaknesses in the world, but what's the evidence to, to substantiate that this is actually a credible weakness.

Dr Marianne Trent:

I have to put this caveat, you're doing some bit of CBT there, Kul, whether you know, or not.

Kul Mahay:

And then of course the opportunities. So what, what is it around you in life? What relationships exist or potential relationships? What access do you have to in groups, environments that you could now nurture and grow and evolve, what relationships and finally the threats. So I don't like the threats part. You know, when we talk about the SWAT analysis, I very rarely pay much attention to threat. I'll tell you before why we're conditioned from the moment that we are born to live in a very competitive environment. So even in business, people talk about competitors.

I literally have no competitors. That's my vision in life. I have no competitors in life, no competitors in business. I had no competitors in the police service. I can only compete with me.

So if there is a threat, it's the quality of the person that you are in the here and now how you are showing up.

Don't worry about the, the potential competitors around you. There's a really good book, Marianne. I dunno if you know, uh, from Simon Sinek, who is one of my heroes in leadership, Simon, Sinek talks about the infinite mind. I think he's called the infinite game, but he talks about the infinite mind. He says the in life that are two mindsets, there's the infinite mindset. And there's a finite mindset. The finite mindset is the leader who has a winning post. They say, right, by the time I'm 30, I want to have achieved this. Or my goal now is to it's get to here. But then you have to ask yourself, well, when you get to that winning post, when you get to that goal, what then? And that for me is a finite mindset. It's a very limiting mindset. Whereas the infinite mindset says, I want to go in this direction and I want to keep going and keep learning and keep being curious.

I wanna keep growing throughout my entire, in the entirety of my journey. And what you'll find is if they were to go for the, the same amount of period, the one where with a growth mindset, the infinite mindset will have grown 10 times than the person with a finite mindset. So do a SW analysis on yourself, use a caveat that I've put in place there committed with a infinite mindset and, uh, and see where you are.

That's all about Self-awareness really getting an understanding of where you are, who you are in the here and now, and then you can start moving forward.

Dr Marianne Trent:

Great. I wonder if the same might be useful for helping people with step into their leadership as well, because as a psychologists, we graduate as band seven in the NHS, which is quite high up bearing in mind, it now starts at band two, you know, and, and generally the top of the pay scales will be banded at nine, but they do go on beyond that, um, for more senior levels, but they're not banded. Um, there's an expectation that you are going to have some sort of leadership role, ultimately, certainly as you go up to band eight, a and B and C, you know, and D but that's sort of, it can be a tricky thing to get your head around the fact that maybe as soon as you qualify, you go from trainee to qualified, then they're looking for leadership and it's, it's not necessarily something that's that easy to get experience of on the way up. So how do we get our heads around that and get our, get any good at it Kul?

Kul Mahay:

That's a really good question. I've done a lot of work with the NHS, both in terms of culture change and leadership development. Uh, and I understand how the bandings work, but, uh, there are a lot of positions where, um, you are in a similar position to that, which you've just described. So for example, doctors, doctors don't train to be leaders. They train to be doctors dentists. I'm just doing some work with some dentist that don't train to become a leader. They train to become a dentist. But the <laugh> the addition to that is that they automatically be, uh, are seen as leaders soon as they start working. Right. And it's a, it's no different with psychologists. So for me, leadership is not about a, the position that you own in an organisation. Leadership is about how you show up in life. Let me explain that in a bit more, uh, with a bit more sort of common sense.

Really. I, I once trawled Google for the definition of leadership and firstly, I was astounded that on the word leadership, I came up with nearly 4 billion responses in north 0.6, seven seconds, which demonstrates that there's a lot of people interested in leadership. Well, if it's nearly 4 billion, that's nearly half the world, right? But then when I look for the definition of leadership, the definition I got was, uh, leader leadership is when you are leading an organisation or you're leading a group of people now, I dunno about you, but if you have to use a word leadership, sorry, leading to describe the word leadership, it's almost like the dictionary itself doesn't understand leadership.

So being a nonconformist, I came up with my own definition, which I think is re, is far more accurate. I think you are a leader whenever you are influencing people, influencing circumstances.

Now within that, that should help to identify the, the answers to your question because we can therefore be a leader way before we become a, a, a doctor in psychology way before we become an adult. Even if we are influencing friends around us as a child, if we are, uh, influencing our children, because we've, we've birthed some children. If we are influencing our pets, because they look up to us for, for guidance as the alpha male, alpha female, if we are influencing friends because they see us as being an expert, it a certain area. So therefore they come to us for advice, or they just see us as an agony aunt, an agony uncle, all of these are leadership roles. If you are the elder sibling, it's a leadership role. If your parents are getting old and they're now leaning on you, that's a leadership role.

So if these are all leadership roles and these are just rolled in life, let alone going in, uh, working in NHS or anywhere else it's as well that we start getting our leadership skills, right from the outset. It's about reading the books. It's about practicing emotional intelligence. It's about becoming much, much more. Self-aware analysing ourselves. It's, it's about asking for feedback, but then creating the environment for that person to feel safe, to give you feedback. You know, people often talk about asking for feedback, but it's no good unless you create a safe environment. So the psychological safety for the individual, giving the feedback back to you. If you do all of that, then actually you're, you're already on the journey to be becoming a leader. And, and the natural transition from you being to band seven, to going further thereafter is so subtle. It will almost be, uh, unnoticeable.

So leadership is something that we can all learn. It's not something that we're born with. It's something that we learn throughout our, the entirety of our lives, but we have to look for leadership in the most unexpected areas of our lives.

Don't align it to our work or position, align it to who we are.

Dr Marianne Trent:

So the boots on the ground example for our audience would be, I guess, cultural temperature or organisations and how people want to show up in terms of dignity and respect for their clients, taking time for their colleagues. Um, you know, not being afraid to use their voice so long as they're using it in a compassionate way with, you know, they've got a plan where they're going and they can guide people gently by the elbow to get there, you know, in a way that feels supportive.

Kul Mahay:

Absolutely. And if you think about the role that a psychologist performs, you have got such an important role in somebody's life. You are influencing their life. That's a leadership role. And I loved what you're talking about, the cultural temperature. If you are going to work within the NHS, remember that all of these NHS trusts up and down the country, they will all have similar, but different cultures. There'll be subcultures that, that exist within an umbrella culture.

So work for an organisation whose culture aligns with your culture, whose values align with your values. And then you'll feel happier in that workplace.

I've just done a cultural diagnostic on a, on a healthcare provider with 1400 staff. And there are so many staff who are frustrated, angry, upset, scared, um, about being in that organisation because the culture's not right. So it really is about the values and the culture need to be won. They need to be synonymous, but also the values of the organisation and the individual that the organisation need to be aligned. Uh, so test yourself at that level. Next time you go for a job application, don't just look at the, the banding or the wage or the money that comes from it, or the position that you get ask yourself. Would I be happy working in this organisation

Dr Marianne Trent:

That is such an important point and a wonderful one to leave it on Kul Mahay. How can people find out more about you, about your book, about your upcoming book as well? Where is the best place for people connect to connect with you?

Okay. So, uh, best place, I guess, is either through my website, which is, uh, or just find me on LinkedIn. I'm always looking for people to connect with me on LinkedIn. Uh, so it's Kul Mahay on LinkedIn. That's K U L. And second name is may M a H a Y. If I'm me on LinkedIn, connect with me, I'm always happy to connect.

Dr Marianne Trent:

Perfect. Thank you so much for your time. Um, it's been a pleasure.

Kul Mahay:

You're so welcome. I've enjoyed it. Thank you.

Thank you for your time in reading this today. Isn't Kul Mahay just, you know, super inspiring, he is like a little rocket in your pocket that you can keep there for a day where you need a little bit of motivating self-talk, which I know that many of you have been in contact to say that this is what I do for you to. I help you weather the storm of this wild ride in clinical psychology or the route to other qualified psychology route so thank you so much for tuning in. The next episode of the aspiring psychologist will drop in to your favourite podcast supplier at 6:00 AM on Monday. Take care, be kind to you, and thank you for being in my world.

To listen to the trauma episode and 'count the ums' click here and then let Marianne know your answer!
To grab your copy of the Clinical Psychologist Collective Book click here.
To listen to The Aspiring Psychologist Podcast click here.


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