PHARMACY

‘With great power; great responsibility’

BY DSN STAFF

Jason Reiser, COO at Vitamin Shoppe

 
Some of life’s greatest lessons can come from the pages of a comic book. Take, for instance, Uncle Ben’s advice to his nephew Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

(Click here to view the complete Future Leaders Summit report.)

“When you dig deeper, what that really means is that when you lead a group of people, you’ve got a team that’s counting on you,” explained Jason Reiser — then chief merchant for Family Dollar, just a few weeks before he would be named COO of Vitamin Shoppe — at the Future Leaders Summit, co-hosted by DSN and Mack Elevation Forum, in May. “I get all my wisdom from superhero movies,” he quipped.

Reiser talked about why purpose matters to leadership.

“My personal leadership purpose is No. 1, about making someone’s life better,” he said, a calling he first felt as a boy working in his father’s pharmacy outside of Philadelphia.

“The second part is, how do I take a team and get results through other people that I — and they — never thought possible,” he said.

To get there, Reiser outlined the 12 key characteristics of a purpose-driven leader:

  1. You must be willing to be unpopular. “I like to say, ‘Let’s talk about the tough decisions first,’” Reiser said.
  2. Give and take unfiltered feedback. “Real leaders make themselves accessible,” Reiser said. “When the door is open, do you really listen, [or] do you bite people’s heads off? Are you really approachable?”
  3. Don’t let data replace judgement. “Sometimes you have to go with your gut.”
  4. Challenge the status quo. “You want to make sure that your organization doesn’t get complacent,” Reiser said. Quoting Barry Rand, former CEO of Xerox, “If one of the people who works for you is a ‘yes man,’ one of you is redundant.”
  5. Always be involved in the details. “Ideas and visions mean nothing if you don’t see them on the field.”
  6. If it ain’t broke — fix it. Purpose-driven leaders forecast how businesses will change. “If the category is not broken today, where is it going to be five years from now?” Reiser asked. “Complacency can be devastating to a business.”
  7. Only the best people accomplish great things. “This is and always will be a people business. This is the thing that is killing millennials and [younger] people,” Reiser said, lamenting the reliance today on email and text messaging. “What’s lost is tone. God forbid you actually have a conversation with somebody,” he said.
  8. Don’t get caught up with a fancy title. “’That’s not my job;’ my dad killed that for me pretty early,” Reiser said. “I used to call those people ‘MFNs.’ ‘Money for nothing.’ If you have a ‘money for nothing’ in your organization, get rid of them. They’re a cancer [to the organization].’”
  9. Never underestimate enthusiasm and optimism. “I would rather have somebody [on my team] who is bullish and probably wrong, any day of the week — [being wrong] doesn’t matter,” Reiser said. “They’re enthusiastic, they bring passion [to the job], [they’re] infectious and they just might strike gold.”
  10. Simple solutions. “Anything that has [too much] complexity to it is not going to work,” Reiser said. “Not only that, it’s really hard to communicate.”
  11. Have fun. Sharing a highly personal story from his own life, Reiser urged attendees to remember the one rule that trumps all others — to have fun at what you’re doing and surround yourself with people who are able to laugh at themselves. Personal ambition might fuel you, but never lose track of the things that truly matter.
  12. Leadership is hard. “‘Don’t tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and let them surprise you with the results,’” said Reiser, citing the late, great General George Patton. “I always say be crystal clear on what you want and when you want it done, but be completely vague on how. The stuff that comes back will blow you away.”

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PHARMACY

Who’s your mentor?

BY DSN STAFF

Chris Dimos, SVP of corporate strategy and business development at McKesson

It’s not about you anymore. If you’re a great mentor, it’s not about your career development; it’s not about what you get out of the relationship. It’s all about your mentee and their personal development.

(Click here to view the complete Future Leaders Summit report.)

That was the key message McKesson SVP of corporate strategy and business development Chris Dimos had for attendees of the first-ever Future Leaders Summit.

Dimos’ take on mentoring has been shaped by his leadership philosophy, which is built on five core principles — courageous leadership, called leadership, craved leadership, compromised leadership and capable leadership.

Courageous leadership “confronts the myth that one person can’t make a difference,” he said. “Kill that myth. One person can make a difference. If you’re a mentor, it can make a difference in your life and in your business.”

Called leadership, Dimos explained, means “when you’re asked to lead — you lead; you dive in with both feet.” Craved leadership is about understanding that people want to be led and using that knowledge to develop yourself as a leader.

Compromised leadership implies an understanding of the importance of integrity, as “the only person you answer to,” Dimos said. Capable leadership turns the lens inward and asks: “Do you have the right DNA? Are you working on your leadership style and are you continuing the experience [you need] to get better?”

And it is critically important to distinguish between the role of a mentor and that of a role model, Dimos explained. Mentors take an active role in the relationship, whereas a role model is someone who is observed and emulated from a distance. Role models lack one key quality that exists at the heart of any meaningful mentor/ mentee relationship — one-on-one interaction.

“If you’re going to be a mentor, it’s one-on-one,” he said. “You engage on a regular basis. It is necessary to be active in this relationship.”

Dimos, who actively works with a number of emerging young leaders, said the list of characteristics that define effective mentorship begins with the ability to listen intently and to be present during every interaction. In fact, he does not allow himself to be distracted by any electronic devices during those interactions. Also critical, he said, is the ability to meet your mentee where they are in their journey and guide them toward their goals.

“Typically, there are several questions from a mentee,” said Dimos. Instead, Dimos is the one who asks the questions. “My mentees know I’m not going to just give them the answer; they know I’m going to ask them enough questions that they get there themselves. “Indeed, Dimos knows a few things about the importance of a good mentor.

One of his first — and most important — mentors was his father, a serial entrepreneur, Dimos explained, who left a promising career to take over the family restaurant. The most important advice his father ever gave him: It’s OK to fail — as long as you’re learning.

Another of Dimos’ important mentors was former American Drug Stores/American Stores/Albertsons/Supervalu chief Kevin Tripp. Tripp, who was EVP and president of the drug store division and pharmacy at Albertsons at the time that Dimos was overseeing managed care, procurement, and systems/process redesign for the company, helped guide him through one of the most challenging chapters — and defining moments — of his career. At the time, Dimos had argued that Albertsons should opt out of California’s worker’s compensation prescription program in the face of a proposed decrease in the state’s reimbursement rate. Rather than try to instruct him one way or the other, Tripp kept asking the questions Dimos would need to answer to find his way in his face-off with then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“He gave me the fortitude to [stick it out until] California changed the Medicaid and the workman’s compensation rate,” Dimos said. “As soon as they did, we jumped back in,” Dimos said.

“Sound advice,” he added. “Trust. Listen. Help me think through the issues. A guided personal struggle — just continue to ask the right questions until you get to the right answer.”

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Connecting to the emotional core of your ‘why’

BY DSN STAFF

George Coleman, VP health care at CVS

Making emotional connections with one’s team — connecting with the head and leading with the heart — is a key element in nurturing future leaders.

(Click here to view the complete Future Leaders Summit report.)

That was the perspective shared by George Coleman, VP health care at CVS, in addressing attendees of Drug Store News Future Leaders Summit in May.

“If you don’t understand some-one’s personal story — where they have been and who has influenced them — how can you lead them?” noted event co-host and moderator Dan Mack, managing director at Mack Elevation Forum, in his introduction of Coleman. “Leaders must also be free enough to share their own story. That’s how trusting teams are built.”

But before you can share your story you have to own your story.

For Coleman, it took a two-year stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in the small West African nation of Guinea Bissau, a former Portuguese colony, to help him draw his own conclusion.

“People asked me why I wanted to go into the Peace Corps, and I told them it was about challenging myself, to see what I was made of,” Coleman explained. “Could I go out on my own into a strange place, learn the local language and make my own way? ‘Doing good’ was also part of it, but it was a side benefit.”

Once in Guinea Bissau, Coleman was assigned to serve as an agricultural extensionist in a small village where he was the only Westerner within a 50-mile radius. His job was to take knowledge gleaned from schools of agronomy and the like and, as he described it, “transfer it to the village — for example, teaching better planting techniques.”

The mission was simple enough to help the village of largely subsistence farmers grow more rice and shorten — or even eliminate — the so-called “hungry season,” the inevitable period they encountered more or less every year, between planting seasons in the dry months, when their food stores would run out. Yet, after one year in the country, Coleman felt as though he still wasn’t quite connecting with the villagers.

Admittedly bothered by it, Coleman tried hard to understand why that disconnect existed. Certainly, his young age was one factor; respect was something that was really reserved for village elders.

It was during a rather ordinary greeting between two of the villagers that it began to make some sense to him. During such a typical encounter, it was customary for the villagers to ask each other a series of questions — how are you, how is your family, how are your crops, how are your cows. “It was clear that they were doing more than just checking up on each other,” he explained. “They were trying to create a context for the people in their lives by understanding their connections to their world. And me? I just dropped in to their lives without any context. ‘Why would you leave your family? Why would you leave America? America is a land of milk and honey — why would you come here to this poor village of ours?’”

According to Coleman, his typically “Western” reasoning, ideas like “wanting to help out” and trying “to find oneself,” just didn’t resonate in their culture. “They understood that I wanted to help them grow more rice; they understood that I wanted to shorten the hungry season, but they didn’t understand why,” he said.

That began to change shortly after a visit to Guinea Bissau from his parents. During their stay, Coleman’s mother was visited by one of the female elders of the village, and he began to notice something odd — the two women “were connecting on a fundamentally emotional level” without the need of translation, he explained, recalling the conversation between the two. “‘You traveled all this way,’” the older woman told Coleman’s mother. “‘You brought up this young person; here he is in our village. We’ve been taking care of him.’ It was really beautiful.”

It was around then that Coleman first began to understand what it means to lead with one’s heart. “It was about connecting to the emotional core of why you do these things,” he explained.

“You can be rational all day, and deal with everyday things, like looking at numbers,” Coleman concluded. “But if you don’t find your emotional core and connect with your team, it’s going to be an upward slog.”

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