The pharmacy profession is both a challenging and rewarding career with great job satisfaction. They are expected to see patients and write prescriptions, but also to be involved in teaching and research. Pharmacists must have strong communication and interpersonal skills, and be able to effectively work with people of all ages and backgrounds.
Ever-evolving role of pharmacy profession
Now more than ever, healthcare systems must be more innovative and adept at taking a science-based approach to managing their operations. Leadership in healthcare is an ever-evolving field, and leaders must be flexible and adaptive to changing circumstances. Similarly, the pharmacist role is evolving to match the changes in the healthcare environment. The roles in the pharmacy today are more complex. Collaboration and teamwork is essential. Effective pharmacy leadership today is more than what was known years ago, and the role needs to be as unique as the patients and the practice setting.
Pharmacists should be ready to take on new responsibilities and develop their professional skills within their practice. Source: The New Roles for Community Pharmacists.
Managing a pharmacy team – Creating a culture of inclusion and teamwork
Working in a pharmacy is exhausting and the hours can be long, so it’s important to take breaks, smile, and build a good rapport with fellow professionals and patients. The best way is to delegate tasks based on individual interest and strengths. Give a little guidance and just watch for the good results. Keep pharmacy team engaged by giving them opportunities to voice their opinions and make requests in their favour. It is also important to keep the team aware of the other functions in the pharmacy and how those are functioning. This style promotes a healthy competition and professional growth. For example, how is the supply chain? Likewise, make sure to involve the team with external partnerships to make sure they are informed and open to feedback and suggestions.
How to apply laissez-faire leadership skills at your workplace
Laissez-faire leadership, or “Let it be” leadership, is when the leader of the organization does not interfere in the tasks undertaken by their team. It is a style of leadership that mainly works when the employees are on high-performance and they are not dependent on their leader to motivate or inspire them. It can also work when the bulk of employees are not independent and require constant direction and encouragement.
A leader should establish and articulate goals and expectations and then give complete autonomy and trust to execute tasks. Laissez-faire leaders use their leadership roles to create a vision for the group in advance of what they think may be difficult. With the vision in mind, they can plan and evaluate the organization for success and develop goals they can achieve. To be successful, it is paramount to give autonomy to the team and to encourage collaboration and cooperation.
Laissez-faire leadership can be applied on the workplace by not micromanaging tasks and checking in occasionally. The manager must be a leader, but not necessarily an authoritarian leader. He must be prepared to allow his subordinates to take the initiative. The manager must realize that his role is not to control his employees, but to help them control their own team and processes, i.e. to create a climate in which the employees will go the extra mile.
Laissez-faire leadership is a style of leadership that does not impose the leader’s own values and goals on subordinates. It supports team decision making while providing only general guidance.
When should laissez-faire leadership be utilized in pharmacy practice?
The way to manage a pharmacy team is not just to have authority over them but also to have empathy for their struggles. In order to stay calm and pleasant, it is important that they stay engaged and committed. This behaviour benefits the patient. In pharmacy practice, laissez-faire leadership would be beneficial for employees who need autonomy and responsibility for their work. The style will also benefit pharmacy managers who give complete autonomy to their employees and trust to execute tasks. There are many famous laissez-faire leaders who stand out and have made an impact in their industry.
A laissez-faire approach enables the staff to make their own decisions that reflect the strengths of the leadership team, rather than on how the leader may feel best, or on how their group thinks they can accomplish certain objectives better. A laissez-faire approach is based on common sense, not on “theory” and it is based on experience, not on past successes or failures.
A laissez-faire style of leadership is a good fit for a knowledge-worker arena like that of pharmacy profession. Actually, it is potentially more successful leadership style because team has same skill set that helps to overcome difficulties for subordinates. A laissez-faire approach for pharmacists helps in establishing a good working environment by promoting a collaborative, participative and fair workplace structure. The examples that make laissez-faire style leadership work include:
- Job satisfaction, collaboration & Motivation: When it comes to job satisfaction and motivation, the level of delegation, power sharing and collaboration of staff as well as their willingness to take initiative in their roles are the key factors. This makes the basis of laissez-faire style leadership.
- Providing opportunities: The workplace can often be an excellent support system by providing employees with opportunities to meet their needs in work, and in turn inspire and encourage employees to work harder. When it comes to the quality of the workplace, a team approach to managing and controlling all facets of staff activities can be beneficial as well.
- Improved operational efficiencies – Reduced workload: Reducing workload is an important factor that could impact the quality and productivity of pharmacy practice. This can help you save considerable time and effort in terms of administration and operational tasks that are required in a pharmacy practice.
- Talent management: In a laissez-faire business environment, people are given the freedom to use their own skills and talents to succeed. Therefore, this type of leadership allows people to use their own skills, and the leader would only intervene when it is absolutely necessary. In pharmacy practice, this ensures the team is knowledgeable, dependable and believe in lifelong learning.
A laissez-faire approach for pharmacists helps in establishing a good working environment by promoting a collaborative, participative and fair workplace structure.
A few other benefits of utilizing laissez-faire style in pharmacy practice:
- This can improve the quality of all staff interactions and support the quality of work. Therefore, it enables pharmacists to work collaboratively and effectively and allows staff to gain increased autonomy and responsibility for their work.
- It helps in ensuring staff engagement, motivation and satisfaction while contributing towards the wellbeing of pharmacists.
- A pharmacy executive can rest assure that a little guidance will definitely work towards patient benefit. Proper delegation can help him focus on higher priority tasks.
- This style helps drive accountability to show that individual’s achievements are their own in an effort to support the best pharmacy practice.
- This style can benefit where people are not good at setting their own deadlines and managing tasks.
- This style can be utilized for customers who also require autonomy and flexibility in their care.
The laissez-faire leader is a leader who doesn’t micro-manage; they’re a leader who are totally trusting and engaging. In pharmacy practice, laissez-faire leadership would be beneficial for employees who need autonomy and responsibility for their work. To enable pharmacists’ autonomy and responsibility, they should share their work and collaborate. It is also important for team leads to recognize and facilitate their staff’s needs and preferences. The leader need to watch individual performance and outcomes with the objective to prevent problems from occurring.
Pharmacy practice is a unique profession. In many ways it successfully mirrors the world of free enterprise or “laissez-faire leadership”, where just about anyone can start their own business or practice. The individual pharmacist is the one who must make the final decisions on what medications are appropriate for patients. With “Let it be” style, the team lead can trust on individual roles with little guidance about what is expected. Individual pharmacists with extended roles own their processes. This ownership creates a sense of responsibility and makes them dependable, knowledgeable, and a valued asset. Pharmacists with laissez-faire leadership style just need to remind their team mates about their responsibilities and help them to take charge of those responsibilities.
Bonus Topic: Steps to implement laissez-faire leadership in your workplace*
Being a good leader is an admirable trait, but unfortunately not everyone is ready or willing to take on the responsibilities of leadership. To some, the term “laissez-faire” means to allow something to happen without interference. This can be seen as a more-restrained form of leadership than an authoritarian or directive style. For some this authoritative style is difficult to adopt and reasons could be many, lack of competency, inadequate work relationships, and politics. Laissez-faire is derivative of various other leadership styles and useful in pharmacy setting to cultivate a culture of collaboration, talent management and trust.
*Bonus topics are selected based on our readers’ interest. You can read more in the future.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on PharmaRead are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency or organization. PharmaRead articles are provided for information only with focus on global health, pharmacy practice, and healthcare systems in Low- and Middle-income Countries (LMICs). Readers should seek expert opinion for use, implementation or application of this knowledge based on their individual circumstances.