As APTUK’s presidential election process gets underway, Tess Fenn considers the qualities and skills that make a good leader

I write my column this month with a sense of excitement, anticipation and self-reflection for two reasons. One is that we are entering one of the busiest times of the year for pharmacy as the Christmas festivities approach and the excitement and celebration this brings. The other reason is more personal as my time as the president of APTUK draws to an end in the early part of the new year. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in this role and I have been humbled to serve as president. As the election process for the new president and vice president begins, my thoughts are turning to the qualities and skills that make a leader. 

Leadership defined

There are so many descriptions, leadership theories and models about the qualities of a “good” leader. For me, these qualities link with personal attributes that are continually carried through daily work: being open and honest, having integrity, inspiring trust and respect, showing commitment and passion, being enthusiastic and optimistic with a positive attitude, being creative and innovative but accountable, empowering others by delegating and being decisive, demonstrating humility and having courage and resilience.  

Displaying courage is probably one of the most important attributes in that it empowers a leader to communicate a new idea or vision and to have a willingness and conviction to achieve goals without any assurance of success. 

Winston Churchill is quoted as saying “courage is rightly considered the foremost of the virtues, for upon it, all others depend”. This is true in that there is no certainty at the outset of any activity in life and there is a risk element to most things. Alongside of this, having resilience when change occurs and being able to adapt is fundamental to thinking about the future. Displaying integrity is not only laudable but necessary to gain the trust of others and a golden rule for me is to treat others as I wish to be treated. Humility allows one to acknowledge and learn from mistakes. 

It has been said that these types of qualities and attributes differentiate leaders and managers. Management and leadership are very different; management is a position and leadership is a skill. Peter Drucker, often called the father of management thinking, said that “management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things”.

Leaders in pharmacy

From these descriptions it can be seen that we can all display leadership attributes and, as such, everyone is a leader to some extent. This aligns perfectly with our role as pharmacy professionals and our commitment to demonstrate our professional behaviour against the General Pharmaceutical Council standards.

Reflecting on this, I would like to ask you: are you passionate about pharmacy technicians, our profession and pharmacy? Are you people-orientated and have effective interpersonal communication skills? Would you like to grow your networks? Do you have the time, energy, enthusiasm and skills to lead or help support the running of APTUK? If your answers to these questions are yes, then please look at our vacant posts as they may be right for you.

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