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07/13/2022

Where are you in your pharmacy leadership season?

"...we all have seasons where we contribute most. We all have a sweet spot where we deliver the most value. The extension of this is that all leaders have a sweet spot where they deliver the most value."

As I sit down to write this article, it is June 20th and tomorrow is the 21st – the official first day of summer. We can think about seasons as cyclic, just like the seasons on the calendar. But we can also think about seasons simply as periods of time. Some of these seasons we will only experience once. We all go through one season of childhood ourselves but may experience the season of childhood multiple times with our children.  Because we have gone through childhood ourselves, we can identify and support our kids as they go through some of the same challenges we faced. Our experiences allow us to support and lead others through similar seasons.

When we consider this concept as leaders, we may begin to see that our leadership skills have exceptional value in particular seasons. 

Let me give you an example. Let’s say that you have previous experience with smoking cessation services and now you find yourself helping a pharmacy which hasn’t provided this service get up to speed. In this situation, your skill set is well placed for this season of launching a new service in the pharmacy. In a scenario like this, you bring a courage and confidence to the team to move forward into this new area. If you didn’t have these experiences, the courage and confidence might be found lacking.

Yet, like all seasons, they end. After some amount of time, you will have led your team to a certain level of maturity and comfort for whatever the initiative.

For me, it started with a phone call to get a dozen pharmacists trained to provide flu shots in 2005. The dozen in the first year became about two dozen the second year. A handful of years later, the team I served with had trained over 12,000 pharmacists. We became very skilled in onboarding our pharmacists to the immunization program and getting them up to a certain level of competence.

But do not miss this important lesson: we all have seasons where we contribute most. We all have a “sweet spot” where we deliver the most value. The extension of this is that all leaders have a “sweet spot” where they deliver the most value. But there is also a danger in this lesson. Some leaders will stay in a role long after their season has passed. As I was learning to become a better leader, I realized that my staying in role after my season had expired was not in the best interests of myself, the company, the people I served, or the patients served by the people I served. 

This presents us with a challenge we must all face: do we move on to a new opportunity or do we get better? I am learning that moving on is sometimes the answer, but not always the answer. On the other hand, I have learned that continuing to get better as a leader is ALWAYS the answer. 

Let me say it another way. If you or I have limited leadership skills – for example, we can lead our team through two situations – we will have a certain limit to our leadership season.  It may be two weeks, two months, two years, or two decades; whatever it is, there will be a limit. But what if we continue to improve our leadership skills? What if we can now lead our teams through not two, but 22 situations? Our leadership season would be greatly extended.

We will continue with this concept when we meet again next week. Between now and then, take a few minutes to consider where you are within your leadership season.  Make a list of three areas where you are improving, or would like to improve, your leadership skills.

Until next time –

Jesse McCullough, PharmD

Connect with Jesse on LinkedIn

 

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