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Use values to anchor your pharmacy leadership

In the spring of 2014, I found myself at a pharmacy conference outside Washington, DC. At that conference, the keynote speaker at the end of the day came on stage and asked the audience two questions that have altered the trajectory of my career. There were probably about 500 people in this room when the speaker asked, “How many of you work for a company with core values?” In this room of 500 people, about 500 hands went up. The next question was a combination of a punch in the nose and a kick in the gut. “How many of you know what your core values are?” Every hand came down.


I was shocked. It wasn’t just me. Practically everyone in the audience did not know what their company’s core values were. This experience put me on a mission. My mission was to find my company’s core values and then make sure that my team knew these core values.

My team had a weekly meeting and we began starting each meeting by reciting the company’s core values. After doing this for a few weeks, I began to notice something.  When we would have these meetings, it was not uncommon for the various members of the team to bring up issues being faced by his or her stores. After learning these core values, the solutions we came up with were often filtered through our core values. Our core values made making decisions easier! Not only that, they also helped us to share our decisions and rationale behind those decisions based on the core values, which garnered greater buy-in from our colleagues and store teams.

Since then, I have learned a lot more about core values. Perhaps I will take a deeper dive on this topic at some point in the future. 

For now, let me ask you: What are your core values? You may not know them, but trust me, you have them. If you already have a list of core values, I encourage you to review those values with your team regularly. If you haven’t yet created a list of core values, I encourage you to begin to put one together. What are those values that you and your team hold dear? One team I serve on has several young parents. This group holds the core value of timeliness so we are sure to end our meetings on time. Another group I served on valued individuality and respect. This group adopted the core value of “be yourself, unless you’re a jerk.” (I truly believe the “unless you’re a jerk” part was directed at me.) This value gave everyone permission to share ideas to improve our business without fear that someone would be disrespectful to the idea.

Values are the third of the three points that anchor our leadership along with oaths and ethics. You may have more, and that's great. That will make your leadership stronger.  If you have fewer, I simply ask that you consider the three points which I have shared with you over the last three weeks. You don’t have to use these particular three, but I recommend you have at least three points to anchor your leadership to.

Until next time -

Jesse McCullough, PharmD

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