Transformative Leadership Can and Should be Practiced by Everyone in the Pharmacy Organization


A transformational leader can make the difference between an efficient, profitable organization and one that is mired in mediocrity.

The quality of leadership can define the culture and direction of an organization. Transformational leadership goes beyond simple transactional engagements and inspires workers to follow a vision or common goal for the organization. Transformational leaders can intrinsically motivate their team in ways that make them want to go beyond simple contractual transactions (wage) and find ways to advance the organization. The pride and sense of belonging to the organization is the goal. Research shows that employee well-being—which includes concepts of satisfaction, stress management, mindfulness, trust, performance, and engagement—is fostered by a mindful transformational leader.1 As a result of an improved workplace environment, transformational leadership can help build resilience among staff while facilitating employee engagement and mitigating job turnover in the organization.

Leadership banner concept with paper boat on blackboard background. One leader ship leads others

Image credit: tomertu |

Resilience is the ability to recover from or withstand difficult situations or hardships in life. The need for increased resilience in the pharmacy setting has never been higher than it is today. With increased workloads and longer hours, burnout has become more prevalent since the COVID-19 pandemic. Burnout often leads disengagement (which increases the likelihood of errors) and to high rates of turnover, which can seriously affect not only the bottom line, but the efficiency of an organization as a whole, as well as patient care and perceptions. In a recent study conducted in 2023, researchers looked at the relationship between resilience, burnout, and work performance and concluded that higher resilience in pharmacists correlated with higher job performance and lower burnout.2 Cultivating higher resilience is a great way to help the organization reach its goal by having motivated employees.

There are many ways an organization and individual pharmacist supervisors can help build resilience among their employees, including developing a positive company culture, implementing management support, and even direct training, all of which can be done by a transformational leader.3 Communication is paramount, and transformative leadership to build resilience includes having all employees participate in decision-making, articulating their specific value and contributions to the organization, sharing with them a vision for what the future of the organization resembles and how they can be part of that future, and working with each employee to craft individual development plans. These transcend mere transactional leadership approaches, such as simply going through the motions during annual performance reviews and pointing out employee strengths and areas for improvement.

Transformational leadership not only supports the development of resilience in pharmacy staff via a more supportive and growth-oriented organizational culture, but this type of leadership is also essential to establish a more stable organizational structure. Researchers have demonstrated a strong correlation between transformative leadership behavior in pharmacists and greater professional and organizational commitment among technicians, thus lowering turnover intentions among those in the study population.4 Therefore, to improve workplace and, ultimately, patient care outcomes, leaders in pharmacy should practice transformational leadership in helping to shape the overall culture. This includes the aforementioned, but also additional strategies that help shape culture, such as taking informed and careful risks, engaging in some level of social camaraderie, demonstrating calm during turbulent times, and creating a climate where employees are rewarded for collegiality with peers, rather than attempting to “one-up” peers to look better than their colleagues.

As previously stated, transformational leadership behaviors not only help build resilience, but also facilitate engagement. Engagement is increasingly recognized for its importance in organizational outcomes, even well above and beyond satisfaction on the job. It is not much different than behaviors seen in other paradigms, where engaged students learn more, engaged customers are more loyal to the business, and engaged citizens are more likely to participate in philanthropic activity. Transformational leadership promotes a more proactive, organization-driven, and engaged pharmacy personnel. Results of one study demonstrated that transformational leadership promulgating a culture of intellectual curiosity in pharmacy staff improved employee engagement and actual work performance, as measured by several objective and subjective criteria.5

About the Authors

Soutsada Sikhounchanh, BS, PharmD Candidate, and Sukhvinder Nijjar, BS, PharmD Candidate, are both students at the Touro University California College of Pharmacy.

Shane Desselle, PhD, is Associate Dean for Research and Professional Affairs at the Touro University California College of Pharmacy.

The importance of transformational leadership cannot be overstated in contemporary pharmacy practice. A transformational leader can make the difference between an efficient, profitable organization and one that is mired in mediocrity. Fostering staff morale, resilience, and engagement will keep employees more content (rather than merely “satisfied”) and will have them provide superior levels of customer service, regardless of setting,6 knowing that customers represent store patrons, patients, other health professionals, other providers, and manufacturers, wholesalers, and health insurance personnel. In this sense, a pharmacy manager has great potential to use transformational leadership to actually help build a brand, and its wide use can even help build the brand for larger organizations. In this way, transformational leader actually transforms, and one does not have to be a chief executive officer or anywhere near the top of an organization to do it. Anyone and everyone can practice transformational leadership.

  1. Kim HD, Cruz AB. Transformational leadership and psychological well-being of service-oriented staff: Hybrid data synthesis technique. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(13):8189. doi:10.3390/ijerph19138189
  2. Weiss SS, Weiss L, Clayton R, Ruble MJ, Cole JD. The relationship between pharmacist resilience, burnout, and job performance. J Pharm Pract. 2023;37(3):644-649. doi:10.1177/08971900231164886
  3. Wasem V, Woodyard A, Desselle SP, Hosseini S, Hohmeier KC, McKeirnan KC. Correlations to and potential implications of resilience among certified pharmacy technicians. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2023;63(1):90-96. doi:10.1016/j.japh.2022.08.023
  4. Desselle SP, Wasem V, Hosseini S, Hohmeier KC, Woodyard A, McKeirnan KC. Technicians' perception of pharmacist leadership behaviors on their own commitment and turnover intention. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2022;79(24):2244-2252. doi:10.1093/ajhp/zxac268
  5. Desselle SP, Wasem V, Woodyard A, Hosseini S, Hohmeier KC, McKeirnan KC. Cultures of support and resilience are associated with certified pharmacy technicians embracing new roles. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2023;19(2):316-321. doi:10.1016/j.sapharm.2022.09.019
  6. Nguyen HM, Mai LT, Huynh TL. The role of transformational leadership toward work performance through intrinsic motivation: A study in the pharmaceutical field in Vietnam. J Asian Fin Econ Bus. 2019;6(4):201-212. doi:10.13106/jafeb.2019.vol6.no4.201
Recent Videos
Image credit:  Gorodenkoff |
Sun Screen, Photosensitivity, Pharmacy | Image Credit: sosiukin -
Catalyst Trial, Diabetes, Hypertension | Image Credit: grinny -
Image Credit: © Anastasiia -
Various healthy foods -- Image credit: New Africa |
LGBTQIA+ pride -- Image credit: lazyllama |