Becoming a More Effective Pharmacy Leader


Being effective may be the single most challenging tasks facing the pharmacy owner today.

Being effective may be the single most challenging tasks facing the pharmacy owner today. Ever-so-many owners, as leaders, concentrate on efficiency. And yes, efficiency is important. However, in the long run, effectiveness may prove to be far more important.

Effectiveness may be the single most important area in which leaders need to work on improvement.

Efficiency vs. Effectiveness

To be effective means doing the right things. On the other hand, efficiency means doing things the right way.

When efficiency becomes conflicted with effectiveness, effectiveness must rule. An example: someone wishing to establish his or her own pharmacy. If that individual does not seek enough qualified advice, there is so much that can go wrong.

Take, for example, a pharmacist who got this process totally wrong. When she wanted to start her own pharmacy, she talked to a consultant, and then created these errors:

  • In the beginning, she attempted to save some money by not employing the help of the consultant, who is a master of the process. Instead, she hired an architect and builder to create her dream pharmacy. She overspent by $80,000, according to her own budgets.
  • She hired a lawyer to negotiate her lease. Unfortunately, he did not understand the intricacies and the legalities of the pharmacy industry. The outcome was that she had to pay rent for an extra 3 months, spending an additional $9000. Lease terms are better negotiated by someone who knows the constraints put on pharmacies by the regulatory agencies.
  • She hired a compounding tech that lacked certain necessary characteristics to be the owner’s prime assistant. The tech could compound well, but she could not help obtain the patients for whom that compounding was necessary.
  • When the owner finally sought the assistance of professional help, she totally ignored 3 major corrective actions that could have quickly multiplied cash flow.

It is well established that when efficiency collides with effectiveness, effectiveness must rule the day. When efficiency of the budget challenges achieving one's goals, the goals must reign supreme; otherwise, the vision cannot be achieved.

Yes, fat should be trimmed from the budget, but not at the expense of achieving goals and objectives.

Improving Effectiveness

Effectiveness can and must be learned. Mostly, it starts with goal setting. When you set a few meaningful goals to accomplish on a monthly or quarterly basis, you begin the process. When you help your team members set individual goals, you carry that a step further. And when you set goals for yourself to accomplish on your own, then perhaps you will have completed the cycle.

The important thing is to measure results, determine what action steps need to be changed so that you stay in alignment with your goals. Some can be accomplished on a daily basis. If you do not accomplish longer-term goals in the time allotted, that does not mean you have failed. It simply indicates that maybe the time element needs to be elongated a little bit.

The measure of the successful leader lies in his ability to 'get the right things done.' This usually involves doing what other people have overlooked, as well as avoiding that which is unproductive.

To Be Most Effective

To be truly effective, the leader must master the following 5 practices.

  • Managing your time. Effective leaders know that time is the most limiting factor. Money can be replaced, so can people and products. However, time cannot be. Systematic time management tries to identify and eliminate the things that need not be done at all, and the things that are purely a waste of the leader’s time. The effective leader concentrates his time only on those activities he is passionate about, and those that no one else in the firm could or should possibly do. The rest he delegates.
  • Focusing your efforts on making contributions that you, and you alone, can make. Prioritizing the mission statement becomes imperative. What is your mission, and what should it become? This is the first question that needs to be answered. It is so basic and fundamental that failure to do so can lead to many a wrong decision.
  • Making your strengths productive. The leader knows that building on strengths is the key to becoming more effective. To be effective means asking the right questions before believing you have the right answers. Great leaders don’t start out asking “what do I want to do?” They ask, “what needs to be done?” Then they ask, “of those things that would make a difference, which are the right ones for me?” They don’t do things they are not good at. Those they delegate.
  • Concentrating your efforts on those tasks that are most important to results. Delegate the rest and/or bring in expertise from the outside.
  • Making effective decisions. This may be the most important item because even decisions about time are evolving. Effectiveness enters into every decision because every decision is about achieving objectives, goals, and dreams. When budgets vs goals becomes an issue, the achievement of goals is most important in order to achieve one’s vision and one’s dreams. When a major problem is encountered, the problem should be spelled out.

Effectiveness must be mastered in order for the leader to achieve his or her dreams.

Being effective may be one of the biggest challenges facing pharmacy owners today, because without effectiveness, very little good is going to happen.

For Pharmacy Times readers, The Pharmacy Sage is offering his proprietary “The General Theory of Entrepreneurship, Leadership, and Marketing for Pharmacy Owners.” Contact the Pharmacy Sage via email to obtain. The Pharmacy Sage can be reached at (518) 346-7021 or

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