Skip to main content

Pharmacy leadership calls for consistency

When it comes to becoming a better leader, we understand that this process is not automatic. It doesn’t just happen. It takes intentional effort. There is no minimum or maximum time it takes to become a good leader. I would say that it is an ongoing process. I believe that for you and me being the best leaders we can be requires a continuous commitment. It requires consistency. There is no endpoint to being a good leader. We must continually be striving to learn and improve ourselves so that we can better serve and support the people we lead – whether they be patients, staff, peers, or colleagues. 

The key I want to touch on today is this need for consistency. 

What are you consistent at? What do you accomplish with clocklike precision? 

If you are anything like me, that was a challenging question to answer – especially when I was starting out as a team leader. At one time, I probably would have said that the only thing I was consistent at was being inconsistent! In those early days, I found myself being discouraged because I felt like so many of my colleagues were so much more consistent than I was. Perhaps that resonates with you? I have learned to change my thinking. I have learned to adopt the attitude and posture of a student to learn what others are so consistent at and how they developed this consistency. The beautiful thing about all of this was that I could begin to tailor these learnings to my own situation.

At one time, I was supporting an immunization program for over a thousand stores. As flu season began to hit full stride, my inbox would fill with all sorts of requests. I told myself that I would respond to each email as it came in and I would keep my inbox pristine. You may not be surprised to learn my resolve worked. For about 10 minutes.  Then I was under water. Whenever I clicked send to reply to an email, two more emails would appear in my inbox! What was I going to do? There was no way this was going to last, especially considering my other duties were all but ignored. 

One evening, I was having dinner with my co-worker, Eric. I shared my challenge with email and his response began to open my eyes to new ways of looking at things. He simply said, “Email – the Great Time Waster.” We can debate the appropriateness of the word “waster” in his comment, but there was something very important for me to evaluate. I was spending hours every day on email and ending up further behind than where I started. Maybe, just maybe, there could be a better way. 

A few days later I was in a meeting and Dan, one of the vice presidents, made a comment about the hundreds of emails he receives every day. I don’t know about you, but hundreds of emails sound painful to me. So, after the meeting, I asked Dan how he was able to handle all of those emails. He shared with me his system for batch processing his emails. He would look at emails over lunch and then again at the very end of the day. He would identify themes which would allow him to respond to several emails in short order. And every day, he left with a clean inbox.

Eureka! I now had a new strategy to try out. To my joy, this strategy worked great, but only if I was consistent in using it. 

Let me circle back to a comment I made earlier about leadership. Being a good leader is an ongoing process. 

At the beginning of the pandemic when things were changing seemingly by the hour, it didn’t serve me well to batch things twice a day. The people I was supporting needed a little extra care. It is not dissimilar to the merry-go-round illustration I shared with you a couple of weeks ago. While we may recognize and agree that being in the centre is where we want to be, we get bumped and pushed away from the centre and towards the outer edges where it is a much wilder ride.

In those turbulent times, I recognized that I needed to leverage some other strategies to connect with my group more often and more personally. At one time the strategy might have been to wait for someone to reach out to me for assistance, but now, I would reach out to people to see how I could best help them proactively. I will not tell you that I somehow solved the pandemic. I did not. I can say that I am glad I changed strategies.

And you know what, in time, that strategy will change as well. 

What will the next strategy be? I don’t know that I know yet. I do know that it will change. I also know that I will have to change as well and be consistent if I hope to lead others well.

As I said, at one point I thought the only thing I was consistent at was being inconsistent. Maybe you feel that way, too. If we take the time to examine ourselves, I trust we can all be encouraged. I expect you will find that you do some things with remarkable consistency. getting up and getting a cup of coffee in the morning.  Maybe it's putting your right shoe on first every day. Maybe it's how you greet someone or the way you brush your teeth before going to bed. Whatever it turns out to be for you, I trust you can begin to assemble quite a little list of things that you do with remarkable consistency. 

Now here is the encouraging news: How you do anything is how you do everything.

If you can be consistent with any small daily discipline, you have the power within you to have that same discipline with another. Or to change one discipline for another.  These small victories are some of the most valuable steps for anyone aspiring to be a better leader. After all, the most difficult person for any of us to lead is ourselves.

In what areas are you most consistent? Keep a list of what you notice yourself automatically doing each day. Ask your family and co-workers what they see you doing consistently. You may even be entertained when they impersonate you and your consistent disciplines.

Until next time –

Jesse McCullough, PharmD

Connect with Jesse on LinkedIn






More Blog Posts in This Series

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds