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Pole Position


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A basic guide to the key points of good leadership

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Pole Position

  1. 1. Pole position Leadership requires a soft hand on the tiller and a sense of boldness, argues Elaine Ford, Managing Director at only medics LtdL eadership in business is not simply about focus all your energy and passion on achieving your managing and motivating people to get results – goal, infect people with your enthusiasm and use the it’s about handling the change that competitive energy it generates to pursue your bring about – but it needs a light hand on Central to this is having a target to aim for, so decidethe tiller to keep everyone on course. The importance on what you want to achieve and go for it – even inof well-honed soft skills is often overlooked, but the face of obstacles and setbacks. None of us likethey are a great foundation for improving leadership to admit it but, if we are honest with ourselves, pastcapabilities and, consequently, can help to drive better failures can often be traced back to a lack of realresults. conviction and determination. And, when the odds Vision is of primary importance to good leadership; seem stacked against you, it takes a bit of backboneyou can’t blow an uncertain trumpet. You must have a that has no time for you. Be bold – nothing ventured,with your company’s business plan and strategy. So nothing gained.
  2. 2. Planning is also a critical aspect of leadership. is clear – and it should be if you have been straightAlways remember that if you fail to prepare then along the way – then deal with the situation quicklyprepare to fail. Successful leaders plan their work and cleanly. Be ruthless but fair as any delay will onlycarefully and then stick to their plans. And, once hurt you, the project and the rest of the have a plan in place, make sure you tell people An important part of leadership is dishing outexactly what is expected of them, as agreeing the perks and rewards fairly. This can be conferenceexpectations and setting goals is vital to the success attendance, training, travel, etc, but the most‘The best industry physicians are those who work well withothers and with whom other people want to work. And thebest leaders are those who make promises that they keep.’of project teams. Matrix structures are common in the important part about a reward is the recognition.pharmaceutical industry and, as the front-liner when A public thank you is worth more in motivationalit comes to medical advice, it may fall to you to lead terms than a private cheque. Similarly, not thankingcertain processes forward. Ensure people are clear someone for their contribution can do more damageabout where they are going and what they are doing. than active criticism. Sharing credit is the fastest way to build credit.You reap what you sow Work harder than everyone else. This doesn’t mean There’s no point having a dog and barking yourself A mistake leaders often make is to get involved inyou should be seen to be doing the lion’s share of everything being done by others in the team. There’sthe work. Commitment from the top tends to inspire no point in having a dog and barking yourself, peoplethe same from the rest of a team. It may not beabout putting in hugely long hours, but rather about results that they can achieve. Keep control by listeningworking smartly to get things done, and get them to them regularly, communication is key.done well. Also, get into the habit of regular informal A major factor in this is accuracy – it’s all in the communication with your own manager. It keepsdetail. Well, not entirely, but ever worked really hard to them abreast of the current situation and gives themclose a deal, only to have it fall apart because of someminor detail that sent it pear-shaped? A small detail toyou can be a deal-breaker to your customer, so leave potential problems before they escalate, as well asnothing to chance. Check, check and check again. covering your back when you say: “I told you about Back to the team, and it is essential to keep people that last week.”motivated. This is largely about treating them decently The communications baton also applies whenas human beings, mobilising the soft skills to treat asking for advice and sharing your thoughts. Peoplethem as you would like to be treated. Understand what love to dish out wisdom, so go and ask something– so for one person it may be a ‘thank you’, while for they have helped. You’ll understand how they areothers it may be continual pushing. thinking – and you might learn something! Within the world of pharmaceuticals, events often Being a senior manager can be a lonely life.change faster than people. However much you have Most people in this category do feel a real sense ofcoached someone, nurtured your relationship with responsibility for the people who work for them,them or communicated with them, there may come a so treating your boss like a fellow human being, atime when you must part company. If your conscience colleague or even a friend makes their life and yours
  3. 3. a good deal easier. But remember, familiarity breeds You need the collaboration and support of otherscontempt, and you can’t expect to be bosom buddies. inside and outside your company to make thingsIf anyone is ever going to criticise or sack you, it’ll be happen. The best industry physicians are those whoyour boss. work well with others and with whom other people In business, changes happen and the want to work. And the best leaders are those whopharmaceutical industry is no exception. Issues arise make promises that they keep.and challenges rear their ugly heads. Instead of In the same vein, it’s crucial to get out there – great leaders are constantly talking to customersyou ought to know there’s a problem,” consider and colleagues, reinforcing the company’s businesssolving the problem yourself, or at least brainstorm objectives, helping others to understand newsome possible solutions. Most bosses dream of products and initiatives, checking on customerproblems.It’s not just charisma No matter how much customer support you have I know that many who are successful in business are from your company, you’re the person in the front line.highly charismatic. But is charisma an essential quality Try to pass the buck to someone else and I guaranteefor a leader? I don’t believe so. Inspiring others by you’ll lose respect and credibility. You’re in a high-creating the environment and circumstances in which risk position and, if you want the rewards, then you’ll responsibility for problems and do whatever needs tothroughout the pharmaceutical industry. be done to put things right. Your customers and your It’s important to realise that you cannot go it alone. team need to know that you are their advocate.