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I’m learning to become a ‘leader’

I’m going on a management course. Please note, however, that it’s not called a management course; after all, there aren’t any managers in medicine any more.  Don’t get me wrong, there still exists a huge cadre of NHS clipboard-wielders of indeterminate necessity, merrily actioning this and workshopping that and generally misusing nouns as verbs like they always have done, it’s just that at some point in the last decade these masters of neologism realised they were in need of a rebrand, and started calling themselves something else.

Doctors are apparently quite good at being managers, so it makes sense for some of us to have a go

So it isn’t a management course – it’s a Future Leaders Programme. See what they did there? Picture in your mind’s eye what a management course looks like; I see David Brent and Gordon Brittas sizing up each other’s Filofaxes over a plateful of Lidl custard creams. But a Future Leaders Programme? That sounds like what Doogie Howser in Starship Troopers must have been on to transmogrify from a nerd with a weasel into a mindreading Gruppenführer in a fleek leather coat. Or whatever Uncle Argyle did to change Braveheart from that snotty kid with the rat-tail haircut to the total badass who turns up twenty years later. I, for one, am sold.

By styling their work as ‘leadership’, managers have deftly relabelled the rest of us in the process. Managers have resources, whereas leaders have followers. But there’s an unintended consequence to this nomenclatorial inflation: give it time, and ‘leader’ will start to hold the same negative connotations that manager has now, and need replacing with something even more impressive. It’ll be an unstoppable arms race; by 2026, the Future Leaders Programme will have to be called something like Exaltation of Super Awesome Demigods With Massive Willies.

‘Hang on a minute Pete!’ I hear you cry, ’If you’re so down on managers, why the hell have you signed yourself up for a ticket on the Golgafrincham B Ark?’ Well, my followers, there are three reasons. Firstly, doctors are apparently quite good at being managers, so it makes sense for some of us to have a go. Secondly, I’ve got a ravenous appraisal monkey on my back screaming for its fifty points, and this course gets me halfway there. Thirdly, and most importantly, I’m crap at management. Abysmal. I reckon I might actually learn something. So when my next blog contains the word ‘stakeholders’ without a Youtube link to a Buffy video, you’ll know it’s been a success.

 Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey. You can follow him on Twitter @PeteDeveson