Top five principles of student pharmacist leadership success

Phi Lamda Sigma

As current Phi Lambda Sigma regional liaisons, we seek to offer some insight on the traits and habits of good student pharmacist leaders. While this compilation is by no means comprehensive, the following attributes are a few that stand out. 
 
Principle 1: Confidence
Self-confidence is a primary part of the equation for both professional and personal achievement. So, does it really come from within? It starts there, but others around you influence it. As a leader, it is imperative to not only have the skill to empower confidence in your fellow student pharmacists, but also to motivate them to become leaders. It is amazing the positive impact a simple “I believe you can do it” has on self-confidence. Encourage your fellow student pharmacists to take risks and get involved by nominating them for positions or inviting them to help at an event. Act as a mentor and provide them with the proper resources, skills, and knowledge they need to be confident in managing and completing tasks. 
 
Principle 2: Goal-setting
Setting specific goals for your chapter will allow everyone involved to establish a focus for their efforts. For example, how comfortable would you feel if your chapter’s project chair said, “Our goal this year will be to promote the pharmacy profession”? While that seems clear to most, how much more receptive would you be to “We want to promote the pharmacy profession, so we will the local newspapers to print a column about pharmacy by the end of the semester.” See the 
difference? 
 
Specific goals will allow students to know why their assigned activities are important. If students do not know why they should care about a goal, they will not feel motivated to achieve it. After establishing a goal, create a time-oriented action plan to execute the goal. Having a timeline will encourage consistent activity toward achieving the goal. 
 
Principle 3: Time management
Managing your time is crucial to your sanity. If you feel you are being pulled in many different directions, consider using a planner and daily to-do lists to help you stay on task throughout the day. Additionally, recognize activities that steal your time. You may be surprised by how much time you are spending on social media. Set aside time for those activities instead of allowing them to constantly interrupt your productivity. 
 
Another tip is to practice saying no. Learning when you have enough on your plate and refusing to take on more helps to keep you from being spread too thin.  
 
Principle 4: Accountability
Leadership and accountability go hand-in-hand. Student leaders should be accountable to themselves, the school of pharmacy or pharmacy organization they represent, and the profession. Accountable leaders accept complete responsibility for their actions, are ready to handle the situation when things do not work out, and have the integrity to make difficult and unpopular decisions. Likewise, accountable leaders also have the confidence to admit their mistakes and limitations. 
 
Accountable leaders strive to meet and, at times, exceed their own and others’ expectations. Try to ensure that you are always communicating and holding your colleagues to the responsibilities they have taken on for the organization. Work to establish and maintain a culture of accountability within your student organization that will help your colleagues to become accountable practitioners, which is essential for  patients’ well-being and the continued development of the profession.
 
Principle 5: Positive attitude
Difficulties and challenges are inevitable in the pursuit of goals, dreams, and essentially anything else worth having. While you are elated when you finally achieve that goal, you often forget that the journey toward it constitutes such a large portion of your time and effort. 
 
While attainment of the goal is a wonderful thing, the journey toward it is a time for incredible personal growth and should not be wasted just trying to get from point A to point B. An attitude of perpetual optimism is essential to such a journey, and effective leaders must choose to see difficulties as opportunities and setbacks as catalysts toward achieving more than originally planned. Leaders should also foster a similar sense of optimism and enthusiasm in those around them. 
 
Being recognized as a student leader was the first step. Now you have an opportunity to develop your skills to lead your organization to the next level.