Tip of the Week: Invest in Managerial Leadership Training to Effectively Leverage Power

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Continuing leadership education can help further develop pharmacy leaders by teaching effective utilization of various power strategies.

It is often assumed that a manager is automatically a leader of their staff by title alone, but there are distinct differences between a manager and a leader. Leaders are visionaries and stewards of strategy while mangers execute the vision of leaders and direct staff.

The differences between a manager and leader are evident in the workplace. Despite experience and qualifications, at least 50% of executives fail to achieve the strategy they were hired to implement within 18 months of taking the position.1 Management experience alone is not enough to effectively lead an organization, and leadership skills must be continually developed and improved upon. The most successful managers incorporate aspects of both management and leadership. These managers know how to inspire others and leverage various types of power effectively to achieve specific goals.

A recent study investigated pharmacists’ perceptions of leadership and patterns of power use by community pharmacy leaders by having participants rate the performance of past and present managers.2 The authors utilized Raven's 7 sources of power to guide the interviews to assess pharmacy leaders’ utilization of positional, charismatic, relational, informational, expert, rewarding, and punishment power.2 Participants were asked open-ended questions about their experience with pharmacy leaders such as specific instances where leadership was effective or ineffective, as well as traits that effective leaders possess. Responses were then categorized into Raven’s 7 sources of power for data analysis. Pharmacists reported a perception of pharmacy leaders’ overreliance on charismatic power and a lack of effectiveness in their use of expert and positional power.2

Pharmacists contended that an overreliance on positional power has resulted in a loss of effective staff influence. Relying on a formal title or seniority as a primary source of power does not in itself garner respect from employees. Many pharmacists reported that they wanted leaders to prove their competency and demonstrate substance behind their title.2

When evaluating the success of pharmacy leaders, participants overwhelmingly agreed that professional qualifications and skills are more important than organizational position.2 Strong interpersonal relationships, communication skills, and confidence are aspects of charismatic power and are all useful tools leaders can leverage. To increase the effect of positional power, managers should focus on showcasing their strengths and abilities to lead their staff.

Pharmacists also championed the importance and value of charismatic power as a tool to win acceptance and influence over staff; however, participants questioned whether their managers relied too heavily on this type of power. Some interviewees stated that many managers have a tendency to treat employees like friends, and participants felt that this type of management style was ineffective and often times was interpreted as insincere.2 Managers who acted this way gave the impression that they needed to be liked, and some pharmacists reported losing respect for this type of manager.

Expert power describes the influence a leader has from possessing specialized or unique knowledge. Many reported a disconnect between pharmacy leaders and staff pharmacists, and interviewees expressed that they saw some mangers as “experts without empathy.”2 A reliance on expertise to inspire and influence staff not only appears to be ineffective but may paradoxically contribute to a growing disconnect between staff pharmacists and management.2 Participants expressed that leaders leveraging expert power need to acknowledge the day-to-day workflow struggles and accomplishments of staff.2 According to the interviewees, expert power is better utilized when there is a positive relationship between management and staff. Implementing empathy training for managers has the potential to make strides in repairing the divide between management and employees by teaching appropriate use to leverage expertise without alienating staff members.

Raven’s 7 sources of power model is a valuable lens to understand the different types of power leaders possess and how those can be leveraged to influence and motivate employees. Power often carries with it a pejorative connotation, but benevolent and effective leaders use power to promote positive workplace outcomes for the organization and for their employees. Pharmacy managers need to become more comfortable in leveraging a diverse repertoire of power strategies to lead their workforce.

These skills do not come naturally, which is why investing in leadership training is essential to maintain strong management within an organization. Leadership styles vary with each person, so leadership training should be individualized to best utilize the leader’s unique skillset.Continual leadership training is vital to the development of managers and their ability to effectively utilize power strategies.

More information about Human Resources Management Functions and Organizational Structure and Behavior can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e.

Ashley Woodyard is aPharmD Candidate at Touro University California.

Shane P. Desselle, PhD, is a professor of social and behavioral pharmacy at Touro University California.

References

1. Ratanjee V. How to create an effective leadership development plan. Gallup.com. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/258116/why-leadership-development-needs-nudge.aspx. Published November 20, 2021. Accessed December 18, 2021.

2. Gregory PA, Seuthprachack W, Austin Z. Community pharmacists' perceptions of leadership. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2020;16(12):1737-1745.