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Pharmacy Leaders Podcast: Inspiring Pharmacy Leadership Interviews

Jan 22, 2018

We talk about Lead-Grow-Shape, a critical leadership book from the Pharmacy Leadership and Education Institute. Today we speak with Nancy Alvarez, the President 2017-2018, of the American Pharmacists Association, an Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice and the Assistant Dean for Experiential Education and Continuing Professional Development for Chapman University School of Pharmacy.

She has written book chapters on pain topics and is actively involved in leader development as a content developer, facilitator and board member for the Pharmacy Leadership and Education Institute. She is board certified in pharmacotherapy from the Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties and her Doctor of Pharmacy degree is from the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy. She served two terms on the APhA Board of Trustees before becoming a presidential officer. She was past president of the Phi Lambda Sigma National Leadership Society and a past Grand Vice President for Collegiate Affairs for the Phi Delta Chi Fraternity.

LEAD360 Opportunity

Great News!

PLEI has negotiated a $140 discount for prospective 2018 PLEI facilitators to attend APhA’s Leadership program on February 10-11 in DC. Again, attending this program is a great way to brush up on your knowledge and skills if you’re interested in facilitating at LDS this summer. 

All you have to do is enter promo code “LEAD360PLEI“ when you register at

Full Transcript:


Welcome to the Pharmacy Leaders Podcast with your host Tony Guerra. The Pharmacy Leaders Podcast is a member of the Pharmacy Podcast Network with interviews and advice on building your professional network brand and a purposeful second income from students, residents and innovative professionals.

Welcome to the Pharmacy Leaders Podcast. I'm so excited to have Nancy Alvarez on. She's been a longtime friend. She's of course the current APHA president but that's not what we're going to be talking about today although Nashville is coming up here in March. What we're going to talk about is a really important book that she's written with a number of other pharmacy leaders Michael Negrete, Gary Kyle, John Gravenstein called Lead Grow Shape. Now, to get it on Amazon, Amazon does a little bit something weird with that title. If you put in Lead Grow Shape it will autocorrect to led and it won't come up. So you have to keep the hyphens in there, Lead - Grow - Shape. In the first episode what we're going to do is we're going to talk about how this book came to be and what it takes to work together to bring the book together. Now the book isn't a regular book as in I've decided I'm going to write a book. It's this compilation of activities that they put into a book form so that you can use it. And that's going to be the first show, the second one is just taking a single module and going from there and how it can impact you. So much of what we learn is what do you want me to learn and of course there's competencies that come down from a presentation, the presentation goes to the classroom, classroom says this is what you're supposed to learn and this is the learning. In leadership however, when you're looking at this book what you really want to look at is what do I need to learn first. And for me I was looking at listening because I'm a total extrovert. So it's really important for me to listen to what someone say and that's part of why I'm doing the podcast. But for a Nancy Alvarez it was something a little bit different and you'll hear about that in the second show. So again, I hope you enjoy this interview.

Welcome to the Pharmacy Leaders Podcast today we have something very special on. We have the president of APHA Nancy Alvarez. Who before she was president of a large organization was a brother with Phi Delta Chi and then a board member and still a board member with the Pharmacy Leadership and Education Institute. That's where we met. I served on the plea board for a couple of years, I want to say four years and that service from that organization one of the big things that they do is nationally they train leaders. So on the Pharmacy Leaders Podcast it only made sense to have Nancy come on and talk about this book. So Nancy welcome to the Pharmacy Leaders Podcast.

Oh thanks for having me.

So Nancy let's start with first a little bit of your background obviously your leadership road is ginormous. So let's talk a little bit about plea, what plea is, the Pharmacy Leadership and Education Institute and how that led to this leadership book.

All right well plea was founded in 1996 and it is essentially the foundation for Phi Delta Chi. And so the fraternity has always had as its moniker leaders in pharmacy and there was a group of individuals who really wanted to make leadership work not only for Phi Delta Chi but also for a pharmacy in general and so these pioneers established plea. And my involvement started when I was a regional officer for Phi Delta Chi. I was asked to participate as a facilitator for what is called leader development seminar which is a two to three day program that is offered in the summer opposite our main fraternal meeting. And we would invite individuals from chapters to participate in taking leadership principles and applying them to situations within the fraternity. We would take a dormant chapter and resurrect it by the use of various leadership principles over a series of a few days. And plea was the steward for the information that was originally developed by John Gravenstein, who used the work as part of his graduate program work and he created the first iterations of LDS and LDS was first introduced in 1989 at a national meeting and now we're, you know, several wrote but several years down the road using this information so that's essentially how plea came to be, as part of the Phi Delta Chi family as its foundation.

So as we're going into this book we're going to talk about some people that are on the cover as editors. I know them all personally but let's talk a little bit about who they are and what their contribution was to the book. So first let's, your last name starts with A and I think that's why it's first on the book but tell me a little bit about your contribution to the book.

So my personal contribution is really its really collective. The information that is in this book Lead Grow Shape, prescription for lifelong leader development really has come to be based on 20 years of providing content to the leader development seminar. And I worked most directly with John to assemble the information in its various chapters. John took the lead to map all of the information to the a ACPE current standards and then to other materials that are out in academia to ensure that they could be mapped back to certain attributes that are required within pharmacy school curricula including developing leaders and a lot of other attributes. So we worked most directly, I was the person that would make the edits to John's original a mass of information. Garry's role has been as a facilitator and as a director in LDS and he was one of the original students that went through the program and then over time has fulfilled various roles in terms of facilitating information and then he's really the person that first began to revise the information going from resurrecting dormant chapter within the fraternity but going a little deeper to really focus on self-directed learning and reflection and some other topics. Ranging from topics within positive psychology and alike and so he his role has really been to be very strategic and really thinking about what needs people have and how can we apply it. Michael's role has been to maximize. He really has straddled both worlds of how do we strategize, how do we think and dream about what people need and then how do we make it happen. And so I always talk about Michael in terms of trying to put more flour into a fixed fabric sack. He's always trying to get the most out of everything that we do. And so the four of us, you know, have worked together on the content but the format that you see really has come about through my effort working with John.

Okay so tell me a little bit about the title, the words themselves, a little bit about lead, a little bit about grow, a little bit about shape and then how the actual modules work to kind of accent those.

Sure, so we are very very intentional about the words that we chose and you'll note that there are some arrows in the, when you look at the graphic you have lead first and grow and then shape. And one would think that that's a logical progression and it's actually intended to depict a longitudinal back and forth kind of progression you go from one to another but then you can go back. Meaning that it is really an iterative process for the time that we're alive and we're engaged in living, you know, we're often called to service to lead because there is nobody else to do it. And we're not always equipped with what we need ourselves to lead ourselves well and therefore we're not really always in a position to lead others well. And so it requires us to grow if we can adopt a curious mindset and one a learner mindset where we're constantly taking in information and we have the potential to grow and either become, have enhanced leader skills or we can begin to shape our environment and shape others. As we've grown we can now influence others and help to coach others to a new normal for them. And so the, what we what we have depicted is not only for ourselves to lead, to grow, to lead a little more, to grow a little more but also to take that growth and to help shape others and help them to recognize the need to lead and grow themselves and lead again and grow a little more. And, you know, and I think that, you know, going back to John and John's role that's what I think has been very masterful about him is that he hasn't said, this is how you need to do it, this is how you will do it. He has said here are the tools available go play, go try, apply the principles to your life and see what happens. And that has been the growth part that has enabled myself and Gary and Michael and countless other fraternity brothers and others in the pharmacy world who know John through his work in immunizations and the like. That's what has allowed us to; you know, find our own leader place and grow. Because he has spent much of his career helping us to be shaped by his efforts and I really think that, you know, that's what's really been really beautiful about the entire experience. And so to your second part of your question about the way the book is organized, it really is a collection of information that can be used by virtually anybody. So while we have focused our effort on academia because there is a need to ensure that schools and colleges of pharmacy are paying attention to not only the clinical science parts of healthcare but also the, what I would call the people science.


The relationships and ways in which we communicate. The book is organized to be supportive of those schools that may not have as many resources available. So they're not schools that maybe have not yet become centers of excellence like Minnesota, like Washington.

What's the center of excellence?

A center of excellence, you know, where they've got a focus, where they've got faculty who have spent their entire careers developing themselves and are known in our profession as, you know, leader gurus. And who have, you know, very very robust programs where they perhaps even train residents or have postgraduate work associated with their leadership programs. You know, the two that I mentioned are the two that I know very well, you know, when anybody says what are the, you know, where, what programs have really strong leadership programs, its Minnesota its Washington. Well how can other schools who have a need to develop leaders, how can they and what can they use in order to get started or to enhance what they're already doing. And so the book is organized where an individual, a faculty member could take one lesson or could cobble together a number of lessons based on various topics that they find would be very useful to present to their students. It's also designed to be flipped in that there is suggestion for what can be done in preparation for class time, what can happen within the class time and then what can happen after the class time where students can take what they've learned in the classroom and then go and apply it and then come back and talk about what it is that they did and whether or not it worked for them or not. And I think that that's really the difference is to have together a resource that can be used in a practical way rather than simply being a resource where you read and maybe you apply but you have to do all of the development yourself if you just take a leadership or a business book off the shelf you have to read it and think about how it might apply whereas in this particular resource that's already done and go ahead.

Tell me a little bit about when I go on Amazon and I look at it it's paired with strengths finder not you didn't pair it Amazon paired it because people buy strengths finder 2.0 with it. Can you talk a little bit about how it fits in with some of those assessments?

Yes and so, you know, strength finders is a wonderful assessment because it gives you some information about you. And I think that within the resource, you know, it this resource is intended for people to focus on what their strengths are and encourages them to apply the strengths as one component to a whole person approach to leadership. And so strengths really could be tied to the mind and we do that in our module number nine. But having strengths is just one part of personal leadership there is also looking at needs, looking at values and looking at passion and helping people to find their voice by leveraging all of those pieces. And I think it's also trying to help individuals see that, you know, by taking a leadership class, reading a book, going to a seminar for two hours, that isn't really where the learning occurs the learning occurs in the application and the realization that, you know, that you have to invest in developing these skills they don't just happen. Now people may have skill already that is a little more comfortable or they've already invested but it, you know, being a leader really relies upon the leader investing in continual growth and improvement. You know, we talk about in our, you know, in our dream sessions we talk about the fact that or we ask the question, you know, are you in love with the idea of being a leader or are you willing to do the hard work that is involved in leadership. And oftentimes, you know, people see the glamour, they see the prestige, they see that which feeds the ego and equate that with wanting to be a leader and instead fail to see that being a leader is hard work and learning how to work with others, learning how to pick up on cues that others may be giving you, how to harness the strengths of all team members and leverage that for the greater good of whatever it is that you're trying to accomplish. That's the hard work of leadership and that's really what we try to help people to see is that if you're going to be engaged in leadership, yes, there certainly are perks from being a leader having positional leadership and that's not the only parts of leadership upon which to focus. And so we try to bring that out for people so that they can see that for themselves and then be better positioned to see that or help others to recognize their own strengths which again are simply one part of the overall puzzle that, you know, that makes up each of us.

What feedback have you gotten on the book from those that use it?

Yes, so from those that use it the font's a little small and it is. Font's a little small or they'll say that, you know, that they like it available in a hardcopy. We have it in a kindle version and thought that that was, you know, really the way of the world and it turns out that, you know, that people still want to have something tangible that they can use and write notes in and things of that nature. I think from those that are using it they find that having the flexibility to mix and match the modules can be a bit overwhelming when you take a look at all of the content in the book and, you know, where we've needed to provide support is really to give people the comfort to say that they know what their needs are best and that this is really intended for them to mix and match what will fulfill those needs and that there's no one way to use the resource. It can be used as one hour of content or it can be used as an entire semester of content. Depending on what the need is it can be used with other materials that someone may already have. It's really meant to be a service and to help to spread the good work of the Phi Delta Chi fraternity and its wisdom, you know, 20-plus years ago to develop a foundation that really has as its vision to be of service to the profession for the good of patients. And while we did initially start with the Phi Delta Chi fraternity, you know, the four of us have been very intentional about wanting to make sure that this content made its way into State Pharmacy Associations, into schools and into other areas where people might have and derive benefit from the content. So it's very accessible in terms of cost, to individuals.

It's only 15 bucks.

Yes it's very very inexpensive.

I was talking earlier in the interview that each of my students that have chemistry class are paying 200 and then for anatomy and physiology it's about three hundred and fifty dollars now for the entire package. So to hear a $15 book was just kind of, it kind of took me aback, yeah.

It is true and, you know, and again as we talked about, you know, putting all this information together I mean this really has been love for 20 years and, you know, and we've just amassed, you know, different iterations of the material over time. You know, you get in you learn something because you've grown yourself or you've been exposed to new material so the next time we do, you know, we we're getting together to put together the offering for leader development seminar about here, you know, instead of just, you know, making it easy on ourselves and taking something off the shelf and using it.


You know, we had to create something net new and then we tried that out and it would work. Great, we would, you know, make minor modifications and then most times we would find where we had weaknesses and then we would make, you know, an overhaul and we would use that plus new things the next time out and, you know, it was it's never been easy for us because of the fact that we have different degrees of ability to dream and, you know. You know, my role has been okay guys, you know, can we just get this together for this time all the dreaming let slop it off and push that to the next iteration. And we've done that for many many years and, you know, at some point within plea, you know, we will no longer be stewards in fact in order to be APHA president I made the conscious decision to step off the plea board and so that's, you know, been a big hole in me, you know, watching the board, you know.

I miss it too. I haven't been on for I think four or six years and it was really tough to leave but, yeah.

It's been really really hard and, you know, and they identified some really really great additions to the plea board since I've been off and in fact it recently talked with an individual who was asking me PGY-2 person said to me, you know, should I and it was, you know, I worked really hard to coach and not tell him yeah, I think he should and here's why but really to, you know, help someone shape, someone into their own decision. While saying to myself like oh my gosh, don't get too comfortable because I'm coming back for my seat. At some point when I'm no longer in my current role with APHA I'm coming back for my seat.


You know, because I just, I think it's tremendous and I think that in order for us to be successful in our schools and colleges of pharmacy, in our profession, in our profession amongst other professionals as inter-professional education and care really comes to truth that it's happening. I think that we need to help people with intention and we need to focus on making sure that they have the knowledge and the skills and the practice to be successful no different than we asked them to have knowledge and skills and practice as, you know, pharmacy students are becoming pharmacist or student pharmacist actually are becoming pharmacist. I think that, you know, we need to have greater intention and through the work of the Pharmacy Leadership and Education Institute we've been able to live our words, to demonstrate that this is indeed important to us. You know, if the group has been a historically a ragtag group of people with a big dream and full hearts and we are, you know, becoming more and more and more sophisticated in the way in which we do things and more and more successful in making sure that we are going beyond Phi Delta Chi and trying to reach as many individuals as we can irrespective of their affiliation really do see it as, you know, something that fulfills us and really because.

Okay, we're going to stop there for now and then we'll see you again on Wednesday where we'll have the second part of this interview. Where Nancy will share exactly how she would use the book and the way that to use it again is just to start with one module to start working on that one change and taking that leap.

Hey I've got some good news. Plea has negotiated a $140 discount for perspective 2018 plea facilitators to attend APHA's leadership program on February 10 to 11 in DC. Again attending this program is great way to brush up your knowledge and skills if you're interested in facilitating at LDS, the leader development seminar this summer. All you have to do is enter promo code lead360plei when you register at and I have a link in the show note.

Support for this episode comes from the audio book Memorizing Pharmacology. A relaxed approach with over 9,000 sales in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, it's the go-to resource to ease the pharmacology challenge. Available on Audible, iTunes and in print, eBook and audio-book. Thank you for listening to the Pharmacy Leaders Podcast with your host Tony Guerra. Be sure to share the show with a hashtag hash pharmacy leaders.