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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Inside the transformational mindset

BY DSN STAFF

That health care is undergoing a period of transformation is by now well-known fact among industry professionals. It is especially well known by Startup Health, whose director of strategic partnerships Katya Hancock shared with attendees of the Drug Store News/Mack Elevation Future Leaders Summit the mindset innovative companies seeking to transform health care all share in common.

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

Startup Health, launched five years ago, partners with health technology startups, offering coaching, community, promotion and access to a global network of investors and customers. Now is a uniquely fruitful time for organizations looking to innovate in the healthcare space, Hancock explained.

To better illustrate the moment in which health care finds itself, Hancock discussed economist Joseph Schumpeter’s idea of creative destruction, which outlines the cycle of innovation and growth of business. A new industry emerges and witnesses some type of innovation, which sparks growth. Once growth plateaus, the business moves from “status” to “depleted industry.” This last state is where Hancock says health care finds itself right now.

“That moment of creative destruction where new industries are born — that’s where what we call ‘healthcare transformers’ are coming into health care,” Hancock said. “They’re coming in with new companies [and] new business models and disrupting the entire industry. And it’s a moment of opportunity for folks in the incumbent industry to partner with those organizations.”

Hancock outlined 10 traits that transformation-minded companies have in common:

  1. Transformation is a CEO priority: Transformation begins at the top, and the head of the company needs to be committed to the task of transformation.
  2. Long-term commitment: Companies with transformational mindsets must be committed for the long haul.
  3. Self-awareness: Leaders at transformational companies are coachable and comfortable listening rather than talking.
  4. Open collaboration: “If you have the stagnation mindset, you think you’re going to build everything internally,” Hancock said. “The transformational mindset realizes it’s a big world out there, and others might have a better idea than [you].”
  5. Eliminate friction: Companies that work to constantly remove internal barriers to progress are better equipped to figure out new solutions — sometimes that means failing fast.
  6. Defining team and process: Rather than simply appointing a person to head up innovation, it must be incorporated into the larger business plan.
  7. Sense of urgency: “Sales cycles can be 12 to 18 months, but innovation is happening faster than that,” Hancock said.
  8. Lead versus follow: Transformational companies are not content to wait for someone else to develop a solution.
  9. Active with startups: Is your company simply dabbling in transformation or has it established relationships with startups trying to transform the industry?
  10. “Batteries included:” People leading transformation-minded companies provide energy to their team, rather than draining it. “Don’t just say no, tell them why not. Give them feedback,” she said.

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