Leadership – it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it


by Marianne MacDonald, RPS Leadership Workstream Project Manager

It’s a new year and a new approach to leadership from the RPS with this month’s launch of the Leadership Development Framework! But what does it mean for you as a pharmacist?

Maybe you think it’s not relevant? After all, you’re already in a leadership role. Or if you’re in the foundation years of pharmacy or just returning to practice, you may feel you lack the experience or confidence to be a leader.

The truth is that the new Leadership Development Framework is for every pharmacist working in Great Britain. What makes this Framework different from the RPS Leadership Competency Framework from 2011 is that it is not about the ‘what to do’ of leadership, it’s about the ‘how to do’. And it’s the way that you lead that gets results.

The idea of collective, engaging leadership for everyone – whatever their role, whatever their experience, whatever sector or location – is embodied within the new Framework. This outlines the key domains of leadership, each with accompanying behaviours. And behaviours is the key word. It’s not about a set of skills or a checklist of things to tick off to become a leader. It’s how you behave that truly defines leadership.

We all know from personal experience that the great leaders we’ve worked with were the ones that inspired us with a vision to make a difference. They may not have been formally in charge, but they had the passion and belief that things could be better and they cascaded that belief like an energy through the rest of the team.

As a profession, we have to feel the same. While leadership is integral to the RPS, we also want it to be integral to the way every pharmacist and pharmaceutical scientist works. For the patient collecting a prescription in a community pharmacy, the leader they see is the pharmacist before them. For the consultant in a hospital it’s the pharmacist making a difference to their patient that illustrates leadership.

The Framework provides a guide for everyone to develop their leadership behaviours. It offers a uniform, consistent approach to leadership across the profession, based on extensive work and wider research from the NHS Leadership Academy. It summarises effective leadership attributes into nine domains of leadership, each with accompanying behaviours that can be assessed using a four-level scale:

  • Essential
  • Proficient
  • Strong
  • Exemplary

This is in line with the RPS’ four stages of post-registration professional development: Foundation, and Faculty Advanced Stage 1, Advanced Stage II and Mastery.

If you feel leadership sounds daunting, take heart from some of the case studies included in the Framework Handbook – some of the people featured didn’t think leadership was for them either. To get started, why not do the online leadership self-assessment tool on the NHS Leadership Academy’s site? This can be used in conjunction with the Framework and can help you get an insight into your current leadership behaviours and highlight areas of strength, and weakness.

The RPS is committed to helping pharmacists create the next generation of leaders and we are working on gaining a better understanding of your leadership needs and how we can help support you over the coming years. The new Framework is just the start, hopefully it’s a new leadership beginning for members too.

Get started with the Framework today.

For more information or to make suggestions on support, please contact RPS Leadership Workstream Project Manager Marianne MacDonald at marianne.macdonald@rpharms.com.

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