The power of purpose in pharmacy

 ‘The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.’ –Mark Twain

Almost every person or organisation needs to motivate others to take a specific action. Some want a customer to make a purchase, some are looking for support or a vote, and others want to push the people around them to work harder. 

It is not particularly hard to motivate people to take the action you desire. Tempting incentives in the form of discounts for customers or financial rewards for your staff are used across many industries to encourage desired behaviour, while the threat of punishment and warnings is often used to discourage undesirable behaviour. In the pharmacy industry, we see such incentives on a daily basis as pharmacies create constant discounts to undercut the pharmacy next door. However, while these incentives entice customers to walk in for a cheaper price, they eat away profit and do not create loyalty between the customer and your pharmacy. They also create an environment where your team is under pressure to sell more volume, which creates more dissatisfaction among your team members.

However, as Simon Sinek writes in Start with Why, ‘Great leaders, in contrast, are able to inspire people to act. Those who are able to inspire give people a sense of purpose or belonging that has little to do with any external incentive or benefit to be gained. Those who truly lead are able to create a following of people who act not because they were swayed, but because they were inspired. For those who are inspired, the motivation to act is deeply personal. They are less likely to be swayed by incentives. Those who are inspired are willing to pay a premium or endure inconvenience, even personal suffering. Those who are able to inspire will create a following of people-supporters, voters, customers, workers-who act for the good of the whole not because they have to, but because they want to.’

Such leaders are rare, especially in the health care industry where I believe they are desperately needed. However, where they exist, staff are fulfilled, customers are loyal and communities are strengthened.

These leaders start by asking a simple question that revolutionises their existence, their pharmacies, and the way they lead. That question is – why am I in pharmacy? 

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