Leading just like proper leaders!
The small things matter to people, so who the UK Commission on Pharmacy Professional Leadership engages with is important, says Nick Kaye..
The first day back after four days of celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the pharmacy is busy and we have team members on holiday and off sick. I am the responsible pharmacist.
You know it is going to be a challenging day. There are the usual litany of complaints and half-baked apologies: “But I ordered it last week! Why is not ready yet” followed by “Oh yes, it was Thursday. I forgot you haven’t been open since”.
These are the front-line pressures we all recognise but I must admit that although the day was challenging, I found it rewarding. Everyone pulled together by taking ownership of different parts of the day, from ordering stock to making the tea (that was me).
This led me to reflect on leadership within the team and how, as the RP, you both lead and be led. This means you must trust the people around you that are taking leading roles to handle them correctly – especially making the tea. A well-run community pharmacy team is an excellent microcosm for good leadership.
The Health and Social Care Review entitled Leadership for a collaborative and inclusive future had just been released and not long before the UK-wide Commission on Pharmacy Professional Leadership.
It has been interesting to see the mix of reactions from the pharmacy profession over who has and has not been included on the Commission. It seems to me that we need to see a more inclusive and compassionate style of leadership.
Those of us lucky enough to have roles of leadership with pharmacy politics need to reflect on our style and in-built biases, and a way to do that is look at how we lead, and maybe think of some of the leaders who have inspired us. Most of the leaders who have inspired me are strong in their beliefs.
These are brought from our different life stories, but the best leaders will also be swayed by reason, logic or passion, and encourage debate and contributions from everyone. We also need to recognise that a difference of opinion should not be viewed a threat.
In fact, it should be welcomed so that debate can follow and, hopefully, common ground can be reached. We shouldn’t allow previous differences to cloud the current issues in front of us, but we are all social animals and this can happen to the best of us. But we should strive to recognise when an idea is a good idea, regardless of who put it forward.
I have seen a recent quote from James Timpson, the owner of Timpson Group, which included some principles that I hope we see reflected within the Commission on Pharmacy Professional Leadership.
He said the little things do matter to people, so who the Commission engages with will be important. “Be kind to everyone – internal and external” was another quote, and one of my favourites: “Recognise that your colleagues are better at most things than you”.
Hold on to this one when asking for opinions of sectors we don’t know and frontline working. I hope that senior leaders within pharmacy and the wider NHS use these discussions to build a kinder, more inclusive leadership where differences are embraced even if there are not overcome and its acceptable to be persuaded to change your mind.
Maybe then more pharmacists from different backgrounds and ages would welcome leadership roles within pharmacy politics, using the skills they have learned from being part of a community pharmacy team.
Then maybe, just maybe, community pharmacy will get the vision and recognition it deserves, which would lead to a better contract and remuneration and an easing of front-line pressures.
If not, I can still take the lead in making my team a decent cup of tea!
Nick Kaye is a community pharmacist based in Newquay and vice-chair of the National Pharmacy Association. These are his personal views.