With the direction the pharmacy profession is headed, Twlug–ASP President Brandi Hamilton’s theme this year, “Be the Change” could not have been introduced at a more appropriate time. As pharmacists strive to establish provider status and the Affordable Care Act brings change to the health care system, innovation and leadership will be at the forefront of characteristics pharmacists will need to bring to the table.
Innovation can be brilliantly envisioned and elegantly constructed like a new exotic car, but it needs fuel to run. Leadership is analogous to a car’s fuel. It is the necessity that drives innovation to be successful, and it does not stop there. Leadership is the driver of many successful processes, projects, and organizations. If you want to be the change, I believe you have to take a step forward.
As a student pharmacist, you may already consider yourself a leader. I have no doubt in my mind that the majority of student pharmacists are leaders, but what kind of leader do you represent? In reference to John Maxwell’s The 5 Levels of Leadership, the characteristics of your current leadership role can depict the effectiveness of your role and the amount of growth needed to become a better leader.
Positional leadership is Level 1 of Maxwell’s 5 levels, and it is an essential obstacle to overcome when becoming a better leader. Positional leadership is when a person has an important title such as serving as president or vice president and doing whatever it takes to achieve the title. Unfortunately, positional leadership does not drive optimal results and contains no room for growth. If one delegates and expects results based on the title of their leadership position, very few goals will be accomplished. If goals are accomplished, they are done so with minimum potential. If you want more room to grow as a leader, don’t get stuck in this type of leadership. Consistently think of how you can make a change and impact your position or profession instead of what you need to do to climb the positional ladder.
Permissible leadership is Level 2. It is created when people start to follow because they want to, not because they have to. Developing relationships with those around you allows for leadership to be enjoyable for not only the individual, but for those that follow as well. While this is only Maxwell’s Level 2, I believe this to be a great position for student pharmacists to be in as they transition to new practitioners. As a pharmacist, you will have people that work for you. The only way a pharmacy will operate like a well-oiled machine is if the environment is enjoyable for the employees. A positive environment is easily achievable when the employees are working for a pharmacist because they want to. In a pharmacy, permissible leadership will inevitably lead to success.
Although there are five levels of leadership, focusing on the conversion from positional to permissible leadership will drive motivation creating results, reproduction, and respect. “Stand-alone leadership doesn’t lead to teamwork, creativity, collaboration, or high achievement,” wrote Maxwell. People are a leader’s most important attribute, not the position itself. Understanding and using your team is a priority. Instead of coming to a conclusion by yourself and delegating roles, incorporate the team into the final decision and delegate based on the interests and talents of the individuals. Involving others and using their best attributes will result in high-quality accomplishments.
No overnight leaders
Start your leadership journey early while you are a student pharmacist. Leadership is developed daily. As you progress through your student career, focus your energy on working with other student pharmacists to develop more leaders and improve the profession. Positional titles can be impressive on paper, but they will not develop the type of leader I know you all are capable of being. I challenge all of you to graduate from your institution not just with titles, but as leaders of change.
I look forward to seeing the amazing things you will accomplish on top of the incredible things you have already achieved.