A strong organizational foundation depends on the quality of the leaders who run it, especially in an environment of continuous change and uncertainty.   Leadership quality directly links to commitment, investment, and alignment of leadership development practices and resources.  Pharmaceutical and life sciences organizations vary in both commitment to and sophistication of their leadership development efforts.   In the wake of the pandemic, the industry faces increased external challenges from continued healthcare disruption, pricing pressures, hybrid work environments, and the Great Resignation.  Just as many organizations are rethinking and re-imagining the future, the same energy and commitment are needed to enhance leadership practices through three (3) distinct lenses – the organizational/ enterprise, team, and individual levels.

What’s Different Regarding Leadership Behaviors?

During the past two (2) turbulent years, requirements for new or enhanced leadership behaviors have emerged.  Best practices demonstrate that defining new behaviors or competencies and then ensuring adequate leadership development – at all levels – will elevate performance of these new or enhanced skills.

Newly emerging or enhanced leadership requirements include:

  1. Anticipating marketplace trends and redirecting priorities
  2. Executing change initiatives and demonstrating agility
  3. Driving culture to create an environment for innovation, inclusion, and development
  4. Harnessing cross-functional effectiveness through more effective collaboration, coordination, and communication
  5. Demonstrating leadership empathy in one-on-one interactions

Organization’s role in Leadership Development

The first lens is taking an enterprise-wide perspective on leadership development, looking at the required commitment and investment needed to achieve essential organizational talent development goals.  In your organization, what values, policies and programs promote and sustain leadership development?

Commitment to leadership development includes:

  1. Clearly defining and articulating a leadership development philosophy and leadership competencies
  2. Defining accountabilities that ensure leaders and HR, Learning and Development, and Organizational Development professionals work together in a coordinated manner
  3. Establishing effective performance management and coaching practices
  4. Investing in programs and technology that enable self-paced leadership development training and progress tracking

When organizational actions consistently reinforce a culture of development, the positive outcomes include higher levels of engagement, better retention, and stronger performance against the competition.

Manager’s role in Leadership Development at the Team Level

The second lens (when examining leadership development practices) is seen from the manager’s role. This perspective is viewed more from day-to-day operations. Through this lens, focusing on leadership development looks like consistent efforts in coaching employees, recognizing individual and team strengths, and reinforcing broader strategic priorities. The manager has full responsibility to support direct reports in their development journey.

The most effective managers:

  1. Provide regular coaching and mentorship
  2. Are intentional about creating on-the-job experiences for direct reports to grow in role and prepare for other career opportunities
  3. Consistently model desirable leadership behavior
  4. Show up when other leaders need support

Often, individuals believe it is a senior leader’s or their manager’s responsibility to manage their professional development. However, the manager’s primary leadership role is to support their employee’s development efforts by providing the necessary support and resources. The manager is a facilitator not a doer in this capacity.

Individual’s role in leadership development

The third and final lens when considering leadership development is viewed from the individual’s perspective. The individual lens is often the most overlooked and misunderstood. From this perspective, focusing on leadership development is an individual responsibility.  The individual has primary responsibility for their own development. While their manager should provide support, advice, perspective, and resources, the individual should proactively seek out development opportunities or craft specialized development paths that fit their unique needs and motivation.

When this philosophy is clearly articulated at the organizational level and reinforced by their manager, individuals take responsibility for:

  1. Identifying individual learning gaps and confirming with their manager
  2. Seeking out opportunities (on-the-job and outside-the-job) that address individual learning gaps
  3. Developing an individual learning plan with clear actions and goals
  4. Executing on individual learning plans and regularly following up with their manager

In the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry where so much is at stake bringing critical medicines and solutions to patients, providers, and caretakers, leaving leadership development to chance impedes the ability to accomplish critical organizational goals.   Being purposeful requires a clear leadership development strategy where managers and employees understand their respective roles and responsibilities and can easily access tools, resources, and learning assets.

How WLH helps bolster leadership development for an organization

WLH expertise

At WLH, we have over 30 years of experience helping clients navigate the white space between strategy development and successful change execution. We also have extensive expertise in understanding companies’ needs and helping design and implement targeted leadership development and coaching efforts.  Our learning strategists have extensive, practical experience and understand the unique needs of the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry.

We work with clients to:

  1. Assess current organizational leadership development practices and competency model requirements
  2. Design comprehensive leadership development solutions for all levels of the talent pipeline (individual contributors, emerging leaders, first line leaders, leaders of leaders, executive leaders)
  3. Provide individual coaching through a focused, results-oriented process that includes both qualitative 360° interview data and quantitative survey data

WLH Offerings

One of our most requested leadership development offerings is our Leadership Development TNT Series™ blended learning solution. This blending solution equips leaders in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry with the business savvy and people engagement skills required to adapt quickly, easily overcome organizational obstacles, and prepare for unforeseen hurdles that may inhibit achievement of their business and cultural priorities.

In our TNT Series™, participants learn how to:

  • Cultivate self-awareness
  • Anticipate and adapt quickly
  • Empathetically engage others
  • Achieve higher results, faster
  • Inspire bold, intentional collaboration
  • Catalyze breakthrough thinking
  • Build an Inclusive environment

If you are looking to improve your leadership development strategy or to sharpen existing leadership development efforts, contact us for a free consultation to see how our services may complement your needs.

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Author:
WLH Learning Solutions, Inc.

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