Pharmacy U

Do you have what it takes to be a pharmacy “leader”? Part 2. Do your homework!


By George Anastasopoulos



A pharmacist I was coaching recently moved to another pharmacy across town. I asked her what prompted her decision to move. “My new boss,” she replied, “isn’t a jerk.”


My boss isn’t a jerk? Talk about lowering the bar. In leadership workshops I ask managers if they’re good at and enjoy controlling all aspects in their area, closely supervise those reporting to them, follow up on detail, make sure everyone does what they should, and make most of the decisions. Most hands go up. And when I ask them if they enjoy being micro-managed, all hands go down.


Pharmacy managers are no exception. Manager obsession with controlling, fixing and instructing has created unhealthy work environments where many employees are thrilled to get a boss… who isn’t a jerk.


Is it a surprise that according to several research sources, two-thirds of employees are disengaged and taking more sick leave? Don’t believe me; do your own research. But that isn’t necessary because you’ve probably already experienced a manager who’s demanding, controlling, instructing, and a fix-it fanatic. Maybe you’re that manager.


Where are the managers who are a joy to work with and for? More importantly, are you one of them? And do you even know for sure? Great pharmacy managers don’t spend their time managing, they are leaders! That means that when they aren’t doing patient counselling, but rather “managing,” they coach staff to solve their own problems, develop the people around them, instill accountability where it belongs, and challenge effectively.


Tempting to suggest the solution is a scientific application of a three-step process. Actually, it is pretty simple and it starts with a shift in your belief system. And here it is:


Pharmacy managers make sure they do things right. Leaders make sure people get better.


And those people getting better aren’t just patients but staff as well. Reflect on that before moving on. A few months ago I concluded a training and coaching program attended by managers in all walks of life called “From Coping to Conquering”. 12 weeks, 12 45-minute online group interactive modules, on-demand “Ask the Coach” brief coaching on whatever’s important to them, and pre/post survey on characteristics and behaviours defining amazing leaders, so they tracked their progress to see their numbers improve.


Hugely impactful for all participants. Yes, apparently managers everywhere, and you too, can do less, accomplish more and make a difference. It’s a process, not a destination. Here’s how to take a few steps in that journey. Do one piece of homework, your choice from these:


  • Notice and keep track of every time one of your staff comes to you with a question, and how you respond (whether an answer, or issuing instructions, or a few questions from you to help them solve their own problem, etc.). Noticing changes behaviours.
  • Whenever one of your staff comes to you seeking advice, or asking what action they should take with whatever they come to you with, reply: “what do you think you should do?” Don’t take “I don’t know” for an answer, merely repeat your question and don’t let it go until they’ve answered their own request with either a WHAT to do, HOW to go about getting the best answer, WHERE to go to get the answer, or WHOM they’ll enlist for help.
  • Every time you conclude a meeting with a staff member, whether it’s brief or long, ask yourself: “How have I developed that person so they don’t need me?” If you don’t like your answer, do better with the next person.


Doing one piece of homework will not miraculously solve all your problems but it will start your transformation. By contrast I guarantee you that NOT doing your homework will definitely NOT solve any of your problems. 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.


Part 1