Using Leadership Skills to Shape Your Work

Colleen Berg FlahertyColleen Berg Flaherty, PharmD

Clinical Program Manager for Government Programs, Prime Therapeutics
LEA Class of 2009

By Sarah Shore Anderson
LEA Class of 2013

In her current position, Colleen uses her skills in strategic and operational consulting in working with Medicare and Medicaid clients. She is responsible for utilization management operations for multiple Medicare Part D formularies. Colleen was a member of the first cohort to graduate from the Leadership Emphasis Area in 2009. Throughout the past 3 years, she has found herself applying the leadership concepts in her daily working relationships.

Awareness of Self

Colleen has found that the biggest take-away from the Leadership Emphasis Area (LEA) was in regards to having gone through the process of identifying her Signature Themes (STs) via the StrengthsFinder. Throughout life, Colleen finds herself “squeezing everything out of what already exists” in order to improve what is already established. This character trait reflects her Maximizer Signature Theme. Colleen has utilized her strengths in her position at Prime Therapeutics as we will see in stories described below. Colleen states, “once you are aware of your strengths as well as your needs, only then are you able to become your own advocate and see where you fit within an organization.”

Moving Towards One’s Strengths 

Colleen’s biggest accomplishment to date consists of having been entrusted as the sole consultant for all new Medicare Part D clients at Prime. Her superiors noticed her skills at developing and managing relationships. She now uses these skills to build successful working relationships specifically with new clients. Colleen’s individualization strength allows her to pick out "what makes each special". She is able to see people as unique individuals and appreciates the likes and dislikes of a person. Colleen often immerses herself in the client’s world. For instance, she may watch basketball more, if she knows her client is interested in basketball. Through her successful partnerships with new clients, Colleen is building significant bridges within the Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) world.

The ST of Context is also important in Colleen’s work. For example, there may be regional differences between clients in different areas of the country. Colleen has learned from her operational consulting experiences that her context strength allows her to parse out what she can apply from past experiences to a new situation. For example, a client was on a hybrid formulary in a system that did not interface with Prime’s system. Therefore, she needed to use her operational skills to re-tool and find a solution in order to meet the client’s needs. With her operational experiences as well as her ability to individualize and maximize, Colleen has a close-to-ideal synergy for bringing a new client into an existing system.

At Prime, Colleen has been able to apply the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership (i.e. model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart) that she learned in her leadership courses. She works within a cross-functional collaborative team in her department where she has the opportunity to: celebrate successes, create transparency of projects, champion what is working well to make it great, and feed information to other departments to generate energy and create common goals.

Leadership Lessons Learned

Having learned about positional versus non-positional leaders and now having been in the working world for over 11 years, Colleen has found that working in a big office with a sliding door may not be what one might think. That office environment can create a silo around you where collaboration is warded off. Colleen emphasizes that working in a cube does not make you less of a leader, but it actually may foster effective leadership skills.

The LEA is for students who have a growth-mindset and desire to understand what leadership is and what it is not. Being the “learner” that Colleen is, she encourages students to “make a commitment to yourself to continue to learn from both successes and non-successes. Each of these events make you who you are today.”

June 2012