If you care, you can lead

marianneby Marianne MacDonald, RPS Leadership Workstream Project Manager

Do you care?

If you don’t think leadership is for you, the first thing to ask yourself is: do you care? Do you care about your team? Do you care about your patients? Do you care about the service you provide? For pharmacists, care is part and parcel of what we do. So, you’re probably already meeting some of the behaviours outlined in Domain 2 (Leading with care) of the new RPS Leadership Development Framework (LDF).

The second thing to ask is: do you care enough to make things better? While working on the development of the new Framework, we spoke with many people about their experiences of leadership. Although their stories differed, caring about making a difference was often the first step in their leadership journey. They became leaders by accident, driven by a desire to improve things for their team, their patients or the process of delivery.

New RPS Advancing Leadership Network and resources

Understanding more about the experiences of others can help when you don’t know what your first step will be, or if you need guidance on how to overcome obstacles. That’s why the RPS has set up a new Advancing Leadership Network as a place where you can get advice and share experiences with your peers. This is in addition to making some new leadership resources available on the RPS website: a Frequently Asked Questions document about the LDF, information on differing models of leadership styles, a list of leadership resources and a Local Practice Forum presentation and activities to kick-start leadership at a local level.

There are also leadership case studies included within the LDF Handbook that showcase the breadth of pharmacy experience. These cases also highlight some of the key leadership learnings that pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists have in common, including:

  • It doesn’t matter where you start, what counts is where you are going. For some people, leadership was integral to their role but, more often than not, they were not the ‘leader’, or they had little formal leadership training or experience. What made them leaders was seeing that changes had to be made and seizing the challenge of implementation.
  • Start afresh. Changes of role, a secondment, a cultural change were among the prompts for taking a new approach. But we don’t always need something new to be the spur to make things different, we just need to look at things with fresh eyes and wonder how it could be made better.
  • Take the time to talk. Understanding what needs to change starts with knowing what the issues are. Talk to patients, staff, those who are affected by the service you provide – each has different insights that can help pinpoint how the service can be improved. Bringing honesty to the table about what isn’t working or what is acting as a barrier can allow you to navigate a better course.
  • You’re not alone. But there’s little point finding a better course, if you are the only one that believes in it. Making a difference only works if everyone else believes in that vision and is just as committed to implementation.
  • Keep the passion. Improving things is not easy and inevitably there will be issues, but it’s important to keep your passion for improvement alive. What came out repeatedly from people I spoke with was the desire to find a way round problems as they arose. Often this came from working with others, and using their influence to generate wider buy-in.

In short, no matter what your journey, there is more than one way to get to where you are going. The best leaders are those that carry on learning along the way.

Start using the RPS leadership resources today.

RPS Leadership Masterclass

With this in mind, we’ve also just opened up registrations for our next Leadership Masterclass on 19 June. Aimed at those working in hospital and academia, it is designed to provide powerful techniques to help you tackle the most complex leadership problems and give you the tools to build an extraordinary team. At the end of this dynamic day you will also be entitled to 60 minutes of personalised leadership support to help you make immediate changes in your workplace.

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