A good manager is more than just the person in charge. To be truly effective, they must develop leadership skills that motivate each member of their team to realize their greatest potential. Doing so not only contributes to a sense of well-being among employees, but ultimately benefits the business as well.
“Leadership is all about working with a group of people to achieve a certain goal, and convincing the people around you to be able to achieve that goal,” Hashim Zaibak, PharmD and owner of the independent Hayat Pharmacy chain in the Milwaukee area, said.
Quality managers set high standards for their employees, setting the tone for how they respond, according to Sandra Leal, PharmD and CEO of Tucson-based SinfoniaRx.
“A lot of it is good modeling and the approach that you take so that people see how much you’re invested in them and also in the mission that you’re trying to accomplish,” explained Leal. “I don’t necessarily expect everybody to work to my standard because people have different approaches, but I always try to set a really good example and show what we’re trying to do in a very mission-oriented way, giving them purpose for why they’re doing the work that they’re doing.”
Building the Best Team
When hiring new team members, both Leal and Zaibak look for people who are passionate about what they do.
“They already have this innate way of interacting with people. It’s the way they communicate, it’s empathy, it’s things that they share that you sometimes can’t train,” this is the way Leal describes prime job candidates. “It’s somebody who is willing to learn, who is eager, self-motivated, interested and asking questions that makes it a lot easier to integrate into the culture that we’re trying to build.”
Zaibak gets excited by candidates who have specific skills that help his pharmacies connect in new ways with the communities they serve. “When I’m interviewing somebody and they speak a different language and are willing to be the liaison between us and that community, it usually improves their chances of being hired,” he explained. At last count, 20 different languages are spoken among his employees at 15 locations in southeastern Wisconsin
Open Communication Is Key
Zaibak also works at keeping open lines of communication with his team members. “I should be doing more active listening and getting rid of the perception that everything is black or white, fair or unfair,” he admitted.
For example, a recent new hire frequently called in sick, which he found unacceptable. But when he met with her in person, he learned that she has type 1 diabetes and had been going without insulin when she didn’t have health insurance.
“By listening, I actually found out that what would have been fair—writing her up—is really not that fair because of her circumstances. It changed my perspective completely,” Zaibak said.
Feelings of burnout and stress in the workplace is another area where a good manager can make a big difference. Leal recommended mentoring as a way to engage employees more fully in the operation.
“Whenever we support someone with additional training or going out to a meeting or to network, it brings a different perspective to the work that’s being done on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “Meeting motivated individuals, people that are advocating for the profession, seeing what else is happening—that, I feel, really empowers people.”
Zaibak said that pharmacists are not taught leadership skills while in school so they need to develop them on the job. “Leadership skills are like a muscle. You really have to exercise it, go to seminars and trainings, read books and watch videos,” he concluded. “When we show employees that we really care about them, they care about the business and they start to own it.”