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The limit of pharmacy leadership and the discomfort of growth

When it comes to our leadership, there is a point that we really struggle to move past. And we will never move past that point unless we go through the discomfort of growth.

We are all leaders. Whether we like it or not, we are all leaders. Even though we are all leaders, we have different skillsets and giftings of our leadership, and that makes us unique. We are all unique leaders. Today, we will touch on a part of our leadership that may make us a bit uncomfortable. Rest assured, if you become uncomfortable today, that is for your benefit tomorrow.

When it comes to our leadership, there is a point that we really struggle to move past.  And we will never move past that point unless we go through the discomfort of growth.

You may or may not have given this much consideration. We have limits in so many areas of our lives. For example, if we were to line up and run a marathon, our limitations might become very apparent. You might run a marathon with ease, while I would struggle to run the first mile. Our limitations would be obvious.

The same happens with our pharmacy leadership. The limitations, however, may not be as easy to see. We all have certain groups of patients that we can impact effectively.  We each have had different success in developing our teams. That is all a function of our leadership, or more specifically the limits of our leadership.

I do not ask you to consider your limits to discourage you. Rather, I ask you to consider your limits to encourage you. You have limits and I have limits. So what? The real question is what will you do about them?

One of the ways I observed these limits was in how my colleagues led their pharmacy teams and customers. At the time, the metric that we used to compare this was payroll and prescription volume. My colleagues who were more effective leaders generally had more customers they provided care for and in turn had more payroll for staff to assist them with these efforts. 

What I didn’t realize at the time was how leadership was at the heart of these metrics. I had some colleagues who could lead a team and provide care to 700 people in a day while others would struggle to provide care to 700 people in a week! 

Back then, I typically thought it was because one pharmacist knew more or less than the other. I learned that wasn’t true at all. What was true was the difference in leadership skills. In speaking with my colleagues, however, I have found this to be what I would call “passive” leadership skill. 

Why passive? When it comes down to it, leadership is more caught than taught. We typically model the leadership style of those before us, sometimes adopting the good habits of the leaders before us. Those colleagues who had more leaders before them had more opportunity to learn the good (or avoid the bad) leadership skills. Their leadership skills were passive because they relied solely on what they picked up over the years. There was no active plan to improve.

So let me give you this encouragement today: leadership skills can be learned. I can still remember where I was when I learned this truth. And this truth has changed the trajectory of my career for the better. I now seek to learn new, more, and better ways to lead. Just because leadership is more caught than taught doesn’t mean that it isn’t learned! 

What about you? Are your leadership skills a result of passive or active learning? When you make the shift to actively improving your leadership skills, you have taken another step in separating yourself from the pack.

Until next time –

Jesse McCullough, PharmD

Connect with Jesse on LinkedIn



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