Leadership – How it Fails

In the past, Australian Pharmacy leadership has been characterised by a single word –  “reprisal”.
This is what you learned to expect if you dared to openly challenge a pharmacy leader.
As you might imagine, i2P has survived a number of “reprisal” attacks that eventuated simply because i2P said what it genuinely thought.
We have survived an assortment of attacks because we believe in freedom of the press and that all perspectives relating to a topic should be openly dealt with, to not allow corruption in any degree to seep into daily practice of any leadership position within pharmacy.
When leaders have a need for absolute secrecy about the affairs of the organisation they lead, then that is the time for independent scrutiny.

Recognizing weakness and taking corrective action is a hallmark of all great leaders. Leaders are, first and foremost, human beings and human beings are imperfect creatures. Humans are also endowed with the capacity to alter objectionable behaviour.

There are five fail-points that can be used to assess leadership.
If you see them reflected in any of the leaders of organisations with which you have membership, you are required to act by speaking up and asking the required questions:
How? When? Where? Why? What? Was it necessary?

Failure by members of an organisation to ensure that their affairs are managed properly allows improper practices to flourish.
If members fear reprisal then it is time to go to a free press and have any claims openly published and debated.
i2P is always open to supporting someone whose conscience is under attack from reprisal leaders.
If an organisation has created impediment through leadership failures of the past, then it is up to current leaders to rectify the situation.

If they don’t, then opportunities are lost to the pharmacy profession and any progress will be muted because of the dead weight of impediments.
Here are the five fail-points:

Failure of Humility

Those in a position of leadership are also, by definition, in a position of power.
Power has the potential to corrupt.
“Power is the corridor that arrogance uses as a footpath to enter into the conscious or subconscious mind of leaders”.
If your humility is failing, your position of leadership will also fail.
Arrogance comes in many guises and includes holding yourself above those you lead, distancing oneself from subordinates, and generally disengaging from those subordinate to you.
This arrogance can result in a leader that over-promises and under-delivers.
It can also result in the best and brightest of your team shutting down.

Great leaders remain somewhat humble, always candid, and above all true to themselves and their ideals.

Failure to Walk the Talk
There is no better role model than the leader who plays by the rules he/she establishes for subordinates. There is no substitute for leading by example.

You want people to be at work on time?
Try being on time yourself.
You want people to show up at work every day?
Be at work every day yourself.
The list goes on, but you see the point.
Respect is earned and built up like a savings account at the bank.
It is never earned by setting a poor example or being hypocritical.
This doesn’t mean that you lead to please others, to fit in, or to be liked.

I am talking about holding yourself accountable so you have the moral high ground when you must hold others accountable.

Failure to Let Go

Leadership is about inspiring, facilitating, and getting out of the way.
Too many leaders fail to let go which has the effect of diluting the trust necessary between those who are leading and those being led.
If you don’t have faith in your team to take your vision and run with it, you will find your organisation stagnating.
You must instil confidence in your team and the best way to accomplish this is to demonstrate that you trust them to get the job done.
This may also mean settling for something less than perfection.
Be accepting of minor failures and open to a diversity of ideas.
Good leaders accept the fact that they can’t do it all and that delegation, managed through mentoring, is the way forward.

Good leaders understand that collaboration, tolerance, and mutual trust are the triad necessary to sustain the forward momentum of the enterprise.
Those words are beginning to emerge as pharmacy tries to leverage itself in to “the next new model” that may involve collaboration, tolerance and mutual trust with other health professions, particularly the medical profession.
Given that they too must change and exhibit similar values, isn’t it time our profession’s leaders began a debate on pharmacy culture and future directions – accessible to all?

Failure to Deliver

Good leaders deliver what is promised to whoever they lead, to subordinates, and to superiors. If you find that your objectives are not being met in a consistent manner, then you are failing to find the right people, employ the right processes, and provide the appropriate guidance to ensure the desired result.

Increased focus on accountability, yours and your team’s, is in order.
Inspect what you expect.
This is particularly apt as new clinical services begin to appear.
Many of these will be original concepts created by individuals.
Do not generate reprisals against these initiatives because it may represent, say, a perceived loss of income to pharmacy in general.
The revenue streams of a pharmacy are diverse, and if professionally derived, may have to be shared under a formal agreement.
Creativity needs to be the watchword in this activity.

Failure to Mentor

Leaders understand the dangers of complacency, the pitfalls of being too optimistic, and the slippery slope of pessimism.
Balance is an essential aspect of leadership and there is no better way to achieve that balance than through mentoring.
Mentoring forces you to focus on what is right about your leadership skills, your vision, and your organization as a whole.

Mentoring ensures that your team understands your vision.
It guarantees continuity and provides a foundation of talent upon which your enterprise can build.
No team ever lost a contest because its bench was too deep.

In short, being a good leader requires humility, the willingness and strength of character to lead by example, the ability to trust others to help you achieve your vision, the means to deliver on your promises, and, lastly, the capacity to teach these skills to others.

What happens now?
At the very least you need to have a fresh look at the pharmacy organisations you are a member of and formulate a list of objectives that you think is appropriate for your organisation.
Work out how you want it to relate to you and how it should communicate its activities to you.

Prepare a list of questions you would like a formal response to or can’t find answers to in any presentation – website, previous newsletters or media releases in pharmacy publications.

Send your letter to the general manager or the board secretary and register your letter.
Sit back and await your response.
If you don’t get a response, phone in and ask why?
If you get the run-around it is time to contact i2P with the details.

If everyone does their job, we have progress.
If not we have cowardly leadership working through reprisals and other forms of bullying.
More alarmingly, you have an unprepared profession, uncreative leaders and a culture not trusted by other health professions and government.
In other words, stagnation!

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