David Allen is not only president of the University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis, Missouri; he’s also a licensed pharmacist with a “Prescription for Leadership.”
Allen spoke Friday, Oct. 21, at Samford University as the first speaker of the 2022-23 McWhorter School of Pharmacy Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series.
During his lecture, Allen described the tenets of “The Leadership Challenge” by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, specifically the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership:
- Model the Way
- Inspire a Shared Vision
- Challenge the Process
- Enable Others to Act
- Encourage the Heart
Building upon these practices, Allen developed—or prescribed—his own principles of leadership.
The first, he explained, is Integrity, in that “the character of values of a leader dramatically affect his or her success.”
Access comes second.
“All individuals within an organization should feel they have access,” he said, noting that his personal open-door policy is meant to be taken quite literally. “Approachability is key.”
Vision is the third principle. “A vision must captivate the members of an organization with possibilities to crate positive change,” Allen said.
Strategic Planning comes next, but Allen emphasized that it must be stakeholder-driven. “Everyone who will be affected by the plans or decision—every stakeholder within and outside the organization—must be part of the discussion,” he said.
Building Consensus is another component. “Working for consensus ensures that all members of the organization accept ownership of the decision and are prepared to help implement it,” he said.
A leader must also Assume Ultimate Responsibility.
“Final authority or responsibility for all decisions ultimately rests with the leader, particularly when consensus cannot be achieved,” Allen explained. “Certain circumstances require firm, resolute decisions by the leader.”
Effective Delegation is also essential, Allen said, while highlighting the habits of good leaders. “They advocate for delegation of responsibilities and tasks, they allow others to see projects through in the way they find most effective, and they follow up in a measured way,” he said.
The final component, he said, is Leading from the Front, as the leader must be directly involved as a participant. “Our words, behaviors, actions and values impact those we lead,” Allen said.
About the Speaker
Allen became the fifth president of the University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in 2021.
Prior to his appointment, he’d served as dean of the school of pharmacy, professor of biomolecular sciences and executive director and research professor of the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Mississippi.
Allen also served as founding dean of pharmacy and professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the Northeast Ohio Medical University College of Pharmacy in Rootstown, Ohio, and associate dean of curricular affairs at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Pharmacy in Amarillo, Texas.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy at the University of Kentucky, then practiced community pharmacy for several years before returning to University of Kentucky to earn his Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences. He has been licensed to practice pharmacy in five states and has been a visiting scientist in Chile, France and Switzerland, as well as at the Laboratory of Neurosciences’ Neurochemistry and Brain Transport Section of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging, where he also was an Intramural Research Training Award Fellow.
About the Series
The purpose of McWhorter School of Pharmacy’s Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series is to bring national thought leaders to campus and discuss contemporary issues related to pharmacy and health care.
The series has been on hiatus during the pandemic, but previous speakers have included:
- Pamela Schweitzer, Assistant U.S. Surgeon General
- Thomas Menighan, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer for the American Pharmacists Association
- Paul Abramowitz, Chief Executive Officer of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
- Michael Maddux, Executive Director of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy
- Kelley Smith, Past President of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists