Fit for leadership


There are 10 qualities that stand out in all effective leaders, say Bruce Annabel and Mal Scrymgeour

If you go to the gym for an hour, having previously embraced relaxation, you do not become fit after 60 minutes of exercise. If you return for a second day of gym work and bring your total training time to two hours, you won’t see any difference whatsoever in the mirror. Every practical measurement you could take won’t show a discernible difference either.

Depressingly, all you will have experienced is a lot of effort and some pain, for no measurable improvement at all. Having done this and identified that this exercise lark is a completely flawed process, most intelligent people would give up.

In this way, it almost defies belief that people continue to go to the gym and work out without any obvious immediate measure of progress. Yet many of us keep at it despite nothing obvious happening.

Of course, we all know that if you persist, over a period of time you do indeed become fit. We also have the measures that prove we have become fit and the benefits of being fit are obvious, such as being more energised, healthy and able to do many more things than those who engage in long periods of serious relaxation. It takes time, sometimes a long time, but the results are clear and valuable. Some choose to go through the process, some don’t.

It is exactly the same with leadership.

It’s not instant. Results aren’t immediately measurable and can be painful to realise. Leadership takes a long time. There is no particular point at which you can suddenly claim to have become a leader. You may have attended a two-day course, proudly received your certificate and ambled out of the training room thinking “well that’s me, I’ve just become a leader.” This makes about as much sense as thinking you are fit after two gym sessions. Leadership doesn’t happen like that. It takes a lot of time and effort that eventually translates into huge and obvious differences. It can often be a frustratingly long journey. But it’s worth sticking at.

As we’ve discussed before, our industry is changing at a pace which continues to accelerate. Our industry needs leaders at every level. At an individual business level, leaders need to have been honing their craft for years. If you don’t do the training, practice and learning of the craft, we’ll end up accusing you of being a ‘relaxed leader’. The industry can’t afford that. What we need are leaders with vision and the ability to bring this to life. At every level.

The 10 qualities of leadership

We put our heads together to determine what we think the top 10 qualities are that leaders need:

1. Clear vision—any organisation needs a clear vision. Where are we going, at what do we need to be successful that attracts more patient visits, and why are we doing this? In our view, with no vision, you work hard operating a business for no real purpose. That’s called stress. Working hard with a real vision you care about is called passion. Determine a clear vision with passion and you have a potent combination. And we’re talking about your vision and purpose for being in business—and not solely the banner group’s vision.

2. Strategy—the strategy is the process of determining the objectives, goal and tactics on how you will deliver your vision. Think of strategy as being the ‘how’ to the vision’s ‘why’ and it should ideally fit on one page.

3. Sincere enthusiasm—real enthusiasm is infectious. People, your team and patients, support innovative leaders who passionately believe. Richard Branson is an example. Elon Musk is another. Are you an example in your business? Sincere enthusiasm is strongly linked to the vision but it must be communicated and not left on a piece of paper.

4. Integrity—perhaps best explained by the phrase ‘doing what’s right when no one is looking’. A leader who shows a lack of integrity is a leader who is leaving their role, or has the team members leaving their roles. Integrity is a non-negotiable table stake for any leader in relation to both team and patients.

5. Great communication skills—good leaders are good communicators. Leading means being able to speak in a manner that motivates, inspires, drives action and creates the right culture. Being a good communicator is a pre-requisite for leadership.

6. Loyalty—the best leaders understand that loyalty is reciprocal. Because of this, they help train and provide the right resources to their teams. They look after their people, and their people look after them. How well you do this reflects in your employees’ attitude when interacting with patients.

7. Decisiveness—a lack of decisiveness often means ineffective leadership. Having consensus is often needed, but taking too long to make a decision has a negative effect. Being too quick with decision making and not seeking counsel from others sometimes doesn’t work either. At other times, an instant decision is required. Decisiveness can occur anywhere along a continuum, it is a delicate balancing act.

8. Managerial competence—being good at a particular role doesn’t qualify you for higher office just as being a great pharmacist doesn’t necessarily translate into being a great leader. Nor does being a great pharmacist preclude you from being a great leader. It is about the individual—do you possess the skills of inspiration, motivation, mentorship and having vision?

9. Empowerment—a good leader has faith in their ability to develop and train others. They are not afraid of someone usurping them or undermining them. They are confident to empower those around them to make decisions. If you are not willing to take the (educated) risk to trust others, then others will be unwilling to take the risk to trust you.

10. Charisma—people like to follow the lead of those they like. The best leaders are well spoken, approachable and friendly. They show sincere care for others. Do you?

Having considered these 10 leadership qualities, it’s worth taking note of two follow-up points:

Firstly, where are you on this journey? You might realise that you don’t have all the skills to be a leader, in which case you are faced with two alternatives:

  • Identify your gaps and develop the required skills.
  • Get someone else to do the leading for you. Become what we politely call ‘the Chairman’. You own the business and help guide it but you do not lead the people.

Secondly, how do the industry leaders measure up on these 10 qualities? For you, this means voting or working with those that are going to develop a future for pharmacy that provides the environment for pharmacy that helps focus on improving the health and wellbeing of Australians.

Consider carefully how leaders of banner groups, wholesalers, the PSA, Guild and others perform in this regard. Without a clear vision that helps customers and improves patient outcomes, then those with a better and clearer vision will dominate.

Be a leader in your pharmacy business; you can’t abdicate it to peak bodies or a banner office—identify your skills, your gaps, and the skills and gaps of industry leaders, and then have enough vision and courage to create and determine your own future.

Previous The week in review
Next Regular pharmacist interactions key in non-communicable disease management

NOTICE: It can sometimes take awhile for comment submissions to go through, please be patient.