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How many voices are you listening to in your pharmacy leadership?

When last we met, we began to look at the concept of seasons and how it applies to our leadership.

Today, we are going to look at things from a slightly different angle.

We have established that we are all leaders. We all play a role in helping someone at some time do something or go somewhere.  

But what happens when there are a lot of leaders trying to help someone do something or go somewhere at the same time?

This example may not apply to you, but you likely know someone who wants to lose some weight. Can you think of some leaders in the weight loss space? These leaders may be actual people, or books or programs. Chances are you cannot think of just one.  You may actually have trouble limiting your list to a dozen or so leaders. Why is your list this long? Because each one has a different take on how to lose the unwanted weight. There is likely a great range in philosophy on how this can be accomplished. One says you need to fast for at least 12 hours a day. Another says avoid all carbohydrates. The next one says only eat between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Yet another promotes the idea of several smaller meals throughout the day. Or how about the one that says drink four litres of water a day?

(In full disclosure, no one should take dietary advice from me. My philosophy is anchored in cinnamon rolls, potato chips and Coca-Cola – with results that shouldn’t be envied.) 

Consider the leadership principle we can find in this example. All these leaders may have a valid philosophy, and the philosophies may work. But they only work when they are followed. What if I take a little bit from diet #1 and sprinkle in what I like (or is easy) about diet #2, and if diet #3 says you can have ice cream, who wouldn’t follow that, right? And what kind of results will we get? Too often, we find ourselves right where we started, if not worse off.

There is tremendous power in listening to one voice. But we are in a noisy world and people get distracted and lose focus. They allow themselves to be led in all kinds of different directions and go nowhere in the end. While I hope you have no idea what I am talking about, I expect that we have all had to counsel a patient on her medication who found some conflicting information on the internet or some daytime talk show. It is so frustrating to compete with multiple voices.

What do we do? This brings us back to the question from last week’s article: will we improve our leadership skills or will we move on to lead others? 

Twenty years ago, my exasperated conclusion was to move on. I simply needed to find other patients I could serve. I did not know that I could intentionally learn new leadership skills. I had no plan. Today, I realize that I must continue to grow my leadership skills. Today, I recognize, as I've written before, that everyone deserves to be led well.

One of the ways we can lead others well is by improving our leadership voice. I do not mean volume or vocabulary. I mean how well we connect with others. When we do this, it reduces the interest people have in seeking or listening to other voices.

There is tremendous value in listening to one voice.

I have found that I have improved my leadership voice in a couple ways. First, I now understand there are certain principles that always work. So, I should be sure to use those principles correctly. Second, I have also found there are situations that will require that I lead my people situationally. These two learnings have revealed there is both a science and an art to leadership. 

What about you? What are you learning about leadership in your own leadership? I would love to hear and learn from you. I invite you to drop me a brief note about something you have learned about your leadership through LinkedIn. 

Until next time –

Jesse McCullough, PharmD

Connect with Jesse on LinkedIn


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