Pharmacy U

Do you have what it takes to be a pharmacy “leader”? Part 1

George Anastasopoulos

First in a series


by George Anastasopoulos


You’re a pharmacist serving patients, possibly an owner with skin in the game, and a manager trying to run a profitable business by doing things right while having few things go wrong. You’re it – the go-to person for all the answers, decisions, direction (aka instructions), help, and one to solve everyone’s problems. You’re the person who’s needed, always, by everyone, for everything.


I’m exhausted just thinking it; how about you?


Maybe the reason why you got into pharmacy practice is only a distant memory and you’ve wondered how to actually honour that reason. You’re awash in busy, your plate’s full, you have no time for anything else, and you’re working “in” the business, not so much “on” it.


Start earlier, finish later, skip meals, go faster, hire more, buy new technology. The typical solutions. Have they worked out like you hoped? These were all bandages anyway. Your way through this isn’t more… time, speed, people, technology.


Now just imagine…


Going in tomorrow and you actually do less, but accomplish more. Problems are solved more quickly with less effort. Patients are even better served without added effort. Where instead of making decisions, issuing instructions or filling & billing, you’re doing patient counselling, and coaching staff to solve their own problems.


Where you provide different perspectives to matters because you’ve actually given yourself the time to think and act strategically by not allowing yourself to get bogged down in the detail.


Where everyone – patients, co-workers and staff – really appreciate and value you (not just what you do, or what you do for them). Where you actually take vacation, things don’t fall apart, and you aren’t missed when you’re away.


Pharmacist, owner, manager… it’s not about becoming better at any or all of these functions, but rather be a leader! Check out this video for a different perspective on leaders. Leaders enable people to find their own answers and create a safe culture for them to decide … without fear.


Leaders understand that the solution is to do less, and those fewer things they choose to do accomplish more. For example, instead of…


  • Doing it all, leaders instill accountability where it belongs (aka in others)
  • Making sure things are done right; leaders make sure people get better
  • Issuing instructions; leaders coach people to find their own solutions
  • Obsessing over and dealing with details; leaders pounce on the essential


Wouldn’t you rather do less, accomplish more and make a difference? Then, as for becoming a leader, why not you! It starts with doing one piece of homework, your choice from any of these:


  • Ask yourself once a day for the next week: “Why am I doing this (whatever that is at that time), and who should be doing this?” Don’t make up convenient excuses such as “me because I have the most experience.” Then, have a conversation with that person so they become accountable for it.


  • Once a day for the next week whenever someone asks you to decide on something, don’t, rather, help them learn how to make the best decision so they apply it next time and every time after that.


  • Once a day for the next week when someone comes to you for a solution to a problem, coach them to find their own solution. If you’re thinking “Huh? How exactly do I do this coaching,” well, you’ll need to talk to me for more on that.


  • When you find yourself bogged down in the details, ask “where’s the essential in here?” Then do just that.


Doing one piece of homework will not miraculously solve all your problems and give you a no-worry vacation, but it will start your transformation.



Better still, reach out to me and in a half hour I’ll coach you to deal with one of your thorniest issues as a leader.


George Anastasopoulos’s passion is to equip and support his clients to transform from managers to leaders, to do less, accomplish more and make a difference. George has taught at the University of Toronto and Schulich Executive Education Centre. He is a credentialed coach with the International Coach Federation, a certified sales leader with the Canadian Professional Sales Association, and certified analyst with Thomas International on a variety of their assessment tools. George is also a veteran business operator with a 20-year corporate career in senior sales, marketing, and general management roles. Most of his clients are senior managers, executives and business owners across a variety of industries.