How to Create a Leadership Culture in Your Independent Pharmacy

How well you lead determines how well you succeed is not just a motto, but a truth that will dole out hard lessons if not thoughtfully applied in your business. Strong leadership culture is your pharmacy’s most sustainable business advantage. Read on to learn more about how to navigate the Five Levels of Leadership and create the culture you need.

At PDS 2018, John Maxwell, the New York Times best-selling author of The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential, discussed how to create such a culture in your independent pharmacy. It does not matter whether you are a seasoned entrepreneur or an inexperienced owner venturing into the industry. When you step in a leadership role, you become the most critical member of your organization. If your approach to leadership is anything less than earnest and informed your team and business results will be lackluster.

Level 1: Position

Leaders that operate on the first level use their position as a manager, owner, or executive to control their subordinates; without it, they would not have the support or the respect of the people that work for them. Pharmacy employees follow because they have to, not because they trust their judgment or believe in the mission. Moving beyond this level requires the demonstration of key characteristics that add value to the team and the business; achieved only by leveraging the talents and experience of the team.

  • Focus on building relationships with your pharmacy team.
  • Increase effectiveness by sharing knowledge and encouraging collaboration.

One way to know where you stand is by asking yourself, “If I didn’t have the position, would my team still be following me?” If the answer is yes, you’re on your way to creating a leadership culture.

Level 2: Permission

At this level, a leader becomes passionate about building positive relationships with employees. They listen to employee concerns, give constructive feedback, and are willing to do whatever it takes to help their team members succeed. As a result, subordinates follow them because they want to, not because their job depends on it. The formula to excel at the permission level consists of three simple steps: Listen, Learn, Lead.

Take the time to focus on…

  • Building a culture based on trust and candor.
  • Understanding employee performance goals and concerns.

Once a leader has earned the respect of team members, their focus should shift to the organization and its overall profitability.

Level 3: Production

Simply put, in level 3 things get done. In a leadership culture, team members follow because of the things that they have done for their organization, as opposed to personal relationships. Employees will learn how to create, set, and achieve goals that align with the company vision, so leading by example is critical to success in this stage.

  • Work to establish and strengthen credibility.
  • Translate ideas into action and align with the mission of your business.

Employees will hit their targets with encouragement and support, but they won’t benefit from your experience in the long run if they can’t produce results on their own. Investing and training team members will produce sustainable results.

Level 4: People Development

At this stage, people are following because of what the leader has done for them, personally and professionally. A level 4 leader must focus on developing new leaders and influencing success beyond what they can accomplish as an individual. Employees follow because they will learn how to lead, which is one of the most valuable incentives that a leader can offer their subordinates.

  • Find, place, and train employees that want to develop leadership skills.
  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of their team members.
  • Understand when and where those team members will produce results.

Level 4 leaders have already earned respect, trust, and loyalty of their pharmacy team. If you want to become a Level 5 leader, you should focus on the impact that your business will have on your city, your region, and the world.

Level 5: Pinnacle

Their reputation is what defines a Level 5 leader. They have earned the respect of their community, and they attract team members, customers, and fans who believe in the same values that they do. Their employees follow them because of the values that they represent and the impact that they have on others.

If you want to attain the highest level in leadership, you should take a look at the relationships that you have with your employees, customers, and neighbors. Think about the role that you play in each of their lives. Would they willingly follow you? Could you confidently lead them?


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