From the Editor’s Desk 31 August 2014

My reading list is definitely expanding each week in an attempt to keep up with a wide range of issues affecting pharmacy at a local, national and international level.
As far as pharmacy is concerned, the issues are virtually identical for each country- they just have slightly different systems and solutions for dealing with the various problems.
One item that crossed my desk and immediately took my attention, was an article written by the respected US social commentator, Harvey Mackay which we have included in his regular column for i2P.

He in turn was reporting on the death of his friend Warren Bennis, a respected “thought leader” in the US who had advised a number of ex-presidents.

Warren Bennis wrote a book titled “On becoming a leader”, a publication that I will be adding to my bookshelf as soon as I can source a copy.
As there is often confusion about the definition of a “leader” and that of “manager” I was interested to read his clarification

“To survive in the 21st century, we’re going to need a new generation of leaders, not managers,” he said.
He clarified that leaders are strategic thinkers, while managers are tacticians.

Warren prophesied that managers had to change their way of leading.
“Move to maestro from macho in the way we’re thinking,” he challenged.
That means to shelve “command and control” thinking.

Be a real leader who both listens and guides people to get the job done.”

Those words of wisdom would apply in just about every country, every organisation and every profession.
They particularly resonate for the profession of pharmacy in Australia.

In Australia, we are thin on the ground with leaders in all walks of life.
You only have to switch on television to become immediately embarrassed by our current crop of political leaders (all flavours), but unfortunately it flows on into our own profession.
Pharmacy has few “thought leaders” and when they emerge there seems to be a penchant by mainstream pharmacy leaders to suppress alien thoughts and denigrate their provider.
This, instead of engaging in private or public debate/discussion to understand what is actually being said and then come to grips with it strategically and tactically.

I would also interpret the direction to leave command and control thinking and become a guide by listening to people and get the job done within one simple definition “mentoring”.
This is a “soft” management process that breaks down internal barriers, eliminates excessive hierarchy and simply gets things done by “learning them”.
It goes to the heart of successful delegation, the hallmark of an experienced professional manager.

When official pharmacy leadership bodies begin a process of decentralisation into logical geographical health areas and loosen up one major element viz. education, then I know that we have new leadership that is thinking strategically for the practice of pharmacy.

Our medical colleagues have always understood this many decades in advance of us, which is why their influence permeates at multi-levels of our society.
However, even they lose direction, as is happening at the moment.

i2P has tried to imbue its readers with a sense of urgency by using the words “renewal”, “culture definition and expansion”, “values documentation and expansion” and identifying the lag that has occurred through pharmacists riding the declining life cycle of the PBS without much thought for the future.

With leadership decline we concurrently see the rise of predatory managers that discount anything of value that is left.
That ends up devaluing the entire profession.
This process can be likened to white ants devouring fallen timber in a forest.
They perform a necessary function, but taken to excess can result in a total destruction.
So “discount” as a strategy, can only be a short to medium term tactic before it also folds.
Discount models eventually revert back to a “what the market will bear” model, which dates back to antiquity.

What is desperately needed is official leadership that can repair the unity in pharmacy after so many years of creating internal division.
As Warren Bennis has also noted, there has to be a dynamic balance between the leaders and managers
Who among the current leaders has the charisma and the vision to begin a strategic renewal for pharmacy?

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