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07/06/2021

Defining leadership in pharmacy

The last time we met, I introduced the concept of leadership and gave encouragement that leadership skills can be learned. That's all well and good. But as pharmacists, we need to have something a little more substantial to work from. We need a definition of leadership.
Jesse McCullough
Founder, Keystone Pharmacy Insights
Jesse McCullough profile picture

The last time we met, I introduced the concept of leadership and gave encouragement that leadership skills can be learned.

That's all well and good.

But as pharmacists, we need to have something a little more substantial to work from.  We need a definition of leadership.

If you look, you will likely find a long list of definitions for leadership on Google. We will look at many of those descriptions in our time here. But we need something to use as our foundation, something to build on.

So, let's start with this simple definition of leadership. At its core, leadership is influence. Influence is the ability to help someone do something at some time.   Everyone has influence. Each of us has the ability and the expertise to influence someone else. Therefore, we are ALL leaders.

In the pharmacy, we have a complex leadership ecosystem to navigate. While there are no doubt some people with more complex environments to lead, I would suggest that the majority of leaders have a less complex environment to lead people through.

When you think about it, I would suggest that the majority of leaders have a paid group of people on their team they are responsible to lead. We absolutely see this in the pharmacy. We are surrounded by a team with a common mission to provide care to our communities. What demands your leadership to go to the next level is this: you have to lead people you do not have direct authority over – your patients! Is it not true that you have a higher degree of confidence asking a member of your team to do something than asking a patient in your pharmacy to do something?

I feel the topic of medication adherence is such a challenge because we execute at dispensing medications at a higher level than our patients execute at taking the medications as prescribed.

So, in the pharmacy, we have people over whom we have direct authority who we need to lead (our teams) and people over whom we do not have direct authority who we need to lead (our patients). This calls for a higher level of mastery of leadership skills.

We also have another group of people we must be able to influence – our peers.  When I say peers, I include the other members of the healthcare community. From our fellow pharmacists to prescribers to suppliers and vendors to payers and right on down the line. We need to be able to influence these groups as well.

All of these groups, however, exclude those individuals who are the most difficult to lead - ourselves! You are the most difficult person that you have to lead, just as I am the most difficult person I have to lead. Add to this any leadership responsibilities on the home front with our spouse and children and you have the makings of a highly complex leadership environment.

We need skills beyond simply telling people what to do. We know that will not always work. We need to develop the skills to enable us to lead ourselves and others well.

As we wrap up our conversation today, let me remind you of a couple of things and give you a thought to consider in anticipation of our next meeting. Let me remind you that you are a leader, and you have a tall task when it comes to leading the various groups you are associated with. Let me also remind you leadership is simply the ability to influence someone to do something at some time.

Now the thought to consider: Everyone deserves to be led well. We will dig into that more when we meet again.

Until next time...

Jesse McCullough is the founder at Keystone Pharmacy Insights, Cochranton, Pennsylvania, and a frequent presenter at Pharmacy U.

 

 

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    Perhaps your experience since the beginning of the pandemic has you thinking that the grass may be greener somewhere else. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.
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