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Leadership lessons for pharmacists from the fainting goat, Part 2

What do you do when faced with patients with questions and concerns? What about your staff? What are the key lessons we need to learn and impart?

#1 is the need for us as leaders to help point the way for our teams and patients. We need to identify where we are going. While I hope this doesn’t apply to you, we both likely know more healthcare workers than we care to admit who find themselves without direction right now. The workforce challenges and supply chain issues have far too many people feeling stuck right now. Stuck stinks. While this may be highlighted in our current situation, it is nothing new. Have you ever had a patient ask you how long they would need to take a medication for some chronic condition? I know I have. My answer for far too long was something along the lines of “for the rest of your life.” What poor leadership!  A patient is looking for hope, for direction, for some spark of encouragement.  What did I do? I smothered it out. I didn’t tell them to fight or fly. I essentially told them they would stay right where they are at. Everyone deserves to be led better than that. Fainting is not an option. Helping the people we lead find some positive progress is critical.

#2 that I see is around avoiding difficult conversations. Are there difficult conversations that need to be had? Absolutely! But instead of having those conversations, we rationalize our way out of having the conversation. I realize now more than ever that many of these conversations do not happen because of the lack of communication and connection skills. I choose those words intentionally because it is not just about being able to say some pieces of information were delivered to the patient. It is about making sure our teams and patients are clear on the various options available to them. As leaders, the responsibility is on us to make sure this happens.

#3 that sticks out to me today is around the attitude we project as leaders. Even when things are challenging, we must remain optimistic. Sometimes that optimism will come from getting away from something. Other times the optimism may require that we fight an important battle or two. Or more. I am hard pressed to come up with a solid reason to do nothing. Leaders call people to take action – to go from where they are to a new place. To a better place.

As I wind down this week’s post, I am curious about the lessons that you may glean from a fainting goat. What sticks out for you? Don’t be afraid to make adjustments as you go. 

Until next time –

Jesse McCullough, PharmD

Connect with Jesse on LinkedIn


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