Leadership, where is it?

There’s lots of talk about lack of leadership in our profession; lack of leadership in our dispensaries, in our associations, in our regulatory bodies.  What is it we are looking for as pharmacists and what can we do about the “lack of leadership” we are feeling?

Leadership in not an innate “born with” quality, nor is it automatically a term we apply to those in positions of power or authority.   It is quite obvious that a position of power does not denote leadership.  Leaders inspire, they create unity, direction, common purpose, a sense of belonging.  It is a fortunate situation if those in positions of power are also leaders, but this often is not the case. 

As pharmacists we do not have to lament our lack of leadership, we all have the potential to lead.  Leadership is a skill that can be developed within ourselves.  Where there is a lack of leadership, we can step up and develop these skills to work for the betterment of our pharmacies and our profession.

Leadership starts in the dispensary with our teams first.  In developing leadership skills, this is the perfect place to start.  You do not have to be in a management position to be a leader.

Simon Sinek talks about the top 3 qualities of great leaders:

  1. Selflessness  Sometimes those new to a position of authority assume that in this position they should be served by those under them.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.  When you aspire to be a leader, you take on being responsible for those you lead.  A true leader will always work to bring out the best in people, to work with the individual talents and shortcomings of those they lead to help them be successful.  Indeed, great leaders put themselves last.  “You’re not a leader until you make it your job to look after others.”
  2. Empathy  Those we endeavor to lead come to their jobs with their own personalities, behaviours and temperament.  A strong leader needs to work with a wide diversity of personalities.  I honestly had no idea until I was in the thick of it how much of “managing” is really “managing people”.  Sinek’s second point that great leaders show empathy is bang on.  Being kind to those we work with and lead, avoiding gossip and instead being empathetic to an individual is almost counter-cultural in some dispensaries.  Yet a strong leader can model this for those on the team and make it a priority to redirect negativity and reinforce kindness and patience. 
  3. Grace under Fire  In a busy dispensary it is easy to place blame, to not assume the best intentions, to react rather than step back and take a breath.  Emanating grace under fire  is a key quality in any leader.  When everything around the team is chaotic, stressful, seeming to fall apart, the leader needs to be the essence of calm.  It is important the leader not get pulled into the mayhem and instead exert confidence and redirect the energy back to the common goal.  Providing support and direction in a reassuring manner is essential here. 

These qualities are by no means an exhaustive list, but they resonated with me as being qualities that all those looking for a leader would wish to see.  When looking for a leader, and not finding one, consider developing leadership skills yourself.  Leadership resources are easy to find.  There are many books, videos, podcasts, seminars, mentors and experts in the field to help develop such skills.  We all need strong leaders, and we need those around us to be willing to take the leap to be leaders themselves.