Invest in managerial leadership training to effectively leverage power

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Continuing leadership training can help further develop pharmacy leaders by teaching the effective use of various power strategies.

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

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

A recent study examined pharmacists’ perceptions of leadership and patterns of use of power by community pharmacy leaders by asking participants to rate the performance of past and current managers.2 The authors used Raven’s 7 Power Sources to guide interviews to assess pharmacy leaders’ use of positional, charismatic, relational, informational, expert, reward, and punishment power.2 Participants were asked open-ended questions about their experiences with pharmacy leaders, such as specific instances when leadership was effective or ineffective, as well as what characteristics effective leaders possess. The responses were then categorized into Raven’s 7 energy sources 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 argued that an over-reliance on positional power resulted in staff losing effective influence. Relying on a formal title or seniority as your primary source of power does not in itself command respect from employees. Many pharmacists said they wanted leaders to prove their skills and demonstrate the 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 trust are aspects of charismatic power and are all useful tools that leaders can harness. To increase the effect of positional power, managers must focus on showcasing their strengths and their abilities to lead their people.

Pharmacists also championed the importance and value of charismatic power as a tool to gain acceptance and influence over staff; however, participants questioned whether their managers relied too much on this type of power. Some interviewees said that many managers tend to treat employees as friends, and participants felt that this type of management style was inefficient and often interpreted as insincere.2 Managers who did this 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 said they viewed some managers as “experts without empathy.”2 Using expertise to inspire and influence staff not only seems inefficient, but can paradoxically contribute to a growing disconnect between staff pharmacists and management.2 Participants expressed that leaders who leverage the power of experts need to recognize the day-to-day challenges of workflow and the accomplishments of staff.2 According to interviewees, the power of experts is best used when there is a positive relationship between management and staff. Implementing empathy training for managers has the potential to make strides in bridging the gap between management and employees by teaching appropriate use to leverage expertise without alienating staff members. staff.

Raven’s 7 Sources of Power model is a valuable tool for understanding the different types of power leaders possess and how these can be harnessed to influence and motivate employees. Power often has a pejorative connotation, but caring and effective leaders use power to promote positive workplace outcomes for the organization and for their employees. Pharmacy managers need to become more comfortable leveraging a diverse repertoire of power strategies to lead their workforce.

These skills don’t come naturally, which is why investing in leadership training is essential to maintaining strong management within an organization. Leadership styles vary from person to person. Leadership training must therefore be individualized in order to make best use of the leader’s unique skills. Ongoing leadership training is essential to the development of managers and their ability to use power strategies effectively.

More information on Human resource management functions and organizational structure and behavior can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e.

Ashley Woodyard is an aPharmD candidate at the University of Touro in California.

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

The 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 Admin Pharm. 2020;16(12):1737-1745.


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