Brilliant advice for pharmacy managers and leaders

An interesting and well written insight into why managers and leaders should engage with their workforce before implementing change.

Book cover of 'Other people's shoes' by Ken Jarrold

Pharmacists might be aware of Ken Jarrold from his role as chair of the Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board, which advises ministers on the development of policy. Jarrold retired in 2005 but spent much of his career as a senior NHS manager. Having gained considerable experience within this role, he now sets out to offer his views on leadership and management in this book.

From the beginning, Jarrold makes a clear distinction between a manager and leader. Although these attributes are often considered to be interchangeable — we expect a manager to assume the role of leader — the two positions are in fact very different and require a unique skill set.

According to Jarrold, a leader is someone who shows the way and is responsible for change, while a manager bears responsibility for utilisation of resources — in other words, keeps the current system functional. In an ideal world, it is useful to have someone who can assume this dual role because that individual has control over the resources that are needed to affect change. Jarrold uses examples of several great leaders, such as Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi, to illustrate how they were able to instigate change in a good way. Although it is often assumed that by showing the way, leadership is associated with a positive change and is an inherently good thing, the direction of travel will be influenced by the leader’s values and beliefs. As Jarrold explains, history provides us with several examples of leaders, such as Adolf Hitler, whose direction followed a destructive path.

Having highlighted the differences between managers and leaders, Jarrold considers the importance of leadership and management. In order to bring about change, leaders must demonstrate a clarity in their objectives and have the capacity and commitment to deliver on those objectives. Nevertheless, as Jarrold is at pains to point out, the most important factor on which the success or failure of an endeavour will depend is the people tasked with the delivery of the objectives. So it is vital that managers and leaders are prepared to listen and take on board the views of the workforce to implement any changes; otherwise the workforce will become disengaged and nothing will be achieved.

Later chapters provide a succinct and clear description of human nature and its potential impact on change. Jarrold touches on the Myers–Briggs type indicator, which defines an individual’s psychological type and provides them with a better understanding of their strengths and weakness so that they can learn how to strengthen the weaknesses.

The book’s conclusion is rather long and there are another 13 pages devoted to questions for reflection and learning, as well as an entire further chapter on thoughts on leadership and management, which I felt should have been described much earlier

It is clear from the book that becoming a manager or leader is no easy task and requires a good working knowledge and understanding of human nature. Great leaders understand the importance of human nature and how it is necessary to bring people on board to successfully implement a change. Throughout the book, Jarrold relates many examples from his own experience and how he was able to resolve a particular problem. However, by his own admission, work caused him to suffer a great deal of stress that manifested as physical illness, which fortunately resolved once he retired.

This is a quite a short but very well written book. It is a great resource and those currently in managerial roles should take heed of Jarrold’s advice. In doing so, it may lessen the burden of daily stress felt by many pharmacists and their staff, who might feel alienated from the decision-making processes. A fully engaged team is likely to be more committed and ultimately more successful in its delivery of patient care.

Rod Tucker


Other People’s Shoes: 40 questions for leaders and managers. By Ken Jarrold. Pp. 89 £7.99, Other People’s Shoes (Stockton-on-Tees), 2018. ISBN 978-1985876960

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, December 2018, Vol 301, No 7920;301(7920):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20205721

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