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Lessons in leadership

"If nothing changes what would I do? – This was the feeling that was a driver for me to lead change." 

Over the course of the last six months we launched two new leadership programmes, one for primary care and one for pharmacists. The programmes have been an opportunity to explore leadership, influencing, resilience and leading changes. We were joined by inspiring leaders from the King’s Fund, Diabetes UK and from across the NHS, who shared their top tips and lessons they’ve learnt from their journey so far. 

On leadership

‘Leadership is having influence and being in front. It’s being brave and willing to do what is right’ Maria

‘Leadership is understanding if your decision is right, and if it is stick with it through the consequences, because you know it’s the right thing to do.’ Claire

‘If you know where you’re going to end up – that’s management. Leadership is when you’re navigating the dead ends… We often think of leaders in terms of position and hierarchy, some of my most powerful leadership moments have come from thought leadership.’ Adrian

On the role of self and team

‘Understand your own values and the values of those around you so you can understand what motivates you and them, and you can work with it.’ Maria

‘In the words of Edgar Schein, “The only thing of real importance that leaders do (beyond the technical) is to create and manage culture.’ Jo

‘I am not the one to aspire to, I am just a means for people to come along with me and think about what next, what do we do to make things better for the people we care for...take yourself out of the picture and the conversation becomes much easier. It’s not about you - I am a public servant and my job is to make life easier for those around me. How can I do that, is what’s more important.’ Maria

‘Get out of your own way and show up. Will yourself into better self-esteem to do what needs to be done.’ Zelah

‘Sometimes I can be the barrier and I have to look to my team to support me.’ Adrian

On building your influence and leading without authority and beyond hierarchy

‘Focus on the relationship instead of the individual battle. Build your influence so you can at least be heard and respected in a conversation even though there may not be agreement.’ Claire

‘If you’re a leader, you have to be adaptive. You don’t have to align with everything everyone says, bust as long as they work with your ambition, be open and be flexible.' Farooq

‘How we project ourselves is how others perceive us.’ Maria

‘Listen to the awkward and difficult people and bring them with you. Be prepared to change your way and put your hand up and own up to when things aren’t going well.’ Claire

On failure and things not going quite right

‘Don’t think of it as a failure, it’s a learning experience.’ Sandra

‘I would have acknowledged the past. It was affecting my present decision making and I wish I took a step back to understand how I was feeling in the current moment.’ Adrian

One piece of advice

‘Make sure you take time out for yourself, if you can’t look after yourself, you won’t be able to look after your team.’ Jo

‘Take risks and challenge yourself to do things you think you can’t do as long as you thinks it’s the right thing to do.’ Claire

‘Trust your gut, be brave and push on.’ Maria

‘If somebody asks you to do something, and you want to say no, not because you don’t have capacity but because how you may feel about it, push yourself to say yes. You can work through the feelings and you never know what might come out of it.’ Jenny 

‘Keep it bitesize. See what you can actually achieve, assess progress and celebrate success as you go along.’ Zelah

‘Believe in yourself. Identify your circle of support and if you think you can do it, just do it.’ Clare 

‘Find someone who believes in you.’ Adrian 

‘Enjoy your journey and where it takes you. Enthusiasm is contagious and it is more likely to take you where you want to go in your leadership journey.’ Fiona

We were joined by,

  • Adrian Blair, Director of People and Organisational Development, Diabetes UK
  • Claire Ellwood, Chief Pharmacist, University Hospitals of Leicester 
  • Clare Hambling, GP Clinical Lead for Diabetes, Norfolk & Waveney and LTC Lead West Norfolk CCG; Chair, Primary Care Diabetes Society; Diabetes UK Clinical Champion
  • Farooq Ahmad, GP; Director North Merton PCH /GP federation; Diabetes UK Clinical Champion Alumnus
  • Fiona Munday, Education and Research Associate, Leicester Diabetes Centre
  • Jennifer Hynes, Programme Lead for Structured Education for people living with Type 2 Diabetes, NHS Forth Valley; Diabetes UK Clinical Champion 
  • Jo Vigor, Assistant Director, Leadership & Organisational Development, The King’s Fund
  • Maria Martinez, Consultant Renal and Transplant Pha
  • Zelah Senior, Revolution Programme Manager, Diabetes UK
  • Sandra Wilson, Senior Diabetes Specialist Nurse, NHS Grampian; Diabetes UK Clinical Champion  
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