Management Styles: What Type of Pharmacy Leader Are You?

As pharmacists, we manage and supervise people on a daily basis. It is important to distinguish what type of leader you are and which styles are more effective when dealing with different people in the pharmacy.

In pharmacy school, I took a pharmacy management elective course as I knew that one day I was going to obtain a leadership role. Going into the role I had to distinguish myself as to what type of leader/pharmacist I would be, as there are several managing styles to choose from: autocratic, democratic, or laissez-faire. Throughout the years, as both a tech and an intern, I have witnessed all 3 managing styles in the pharmacy and tried to determine what worked and what did not.

To be an autocratic leader, you have to be controlling. Basically, you will solely be making all the decisions in the pharmacy. The roles and tasks are all laid out for your employees, and they are all expected to follow direction as you see fit. Some people are opposed to this method as they see it more as a dictatorship, but when dealing with certain types of people it does have its benefits. This style of management seems to work best when dealing with people who are not really motivated or do not know what they are doing in the first place. This way of leading gives them a clear and direct list of tasks and expectations. Some employees, however do not need to be micromanaged. Employees may become frustrated with constantly being told what to do and feeling "not heard," or they may become too dependent on the manager which does not work well when the leader is taking an off day, on vacation, or just simply not scheduled.

One could be a democratic leader, which consists of hearing employees out and collecting everyone’s input. Ultimately you still have the final decision as pharmacy manager but you involve your employees to participate when it comes to making certain decisions. This style of management also has some benefits as it can increase both productivity and morale. Employees in this style also report feeling valued rather than just falling in line with the others. However, this management style is not always the best either as in certain scenarios you may not be taken as seriously as you would when displaying more authority. Some people may try to turn tables in ways that do not favor the business or give opinions that are not warranted, which in certain scenarios may make it difficult for you as a manager to take back control.

The other option is to be laissez-faire, which is basically a hand’s off approach where you let the staff make the decisions in the pharmacy. As a manager, you do not interfere and instead you are more laid back. Everyone is kind of on the same level as you. There is no hierarchy. There could be advantages with this style of managing when dealing with more skilled technicians who do not require any direction, however if you do not have a good staff this style can lead to a major loss of productivity.

I have been a manager since July and I have chosen to have more of a mixed management style. I know what type of manager to be when I know exactly who I am dealing with. Some people need more direction than others and very few require no direction at all. It’s good to know the different styles of managing and being able to know when exactly each style has its advantages especially working in a busy pharmacy when productivity is key while still maintaining good customer care and patient safety. Don’t be discouraged if not everyone likes you or your management style. It is impossible to please everyone especially when you are the boss.