“How do I become an influential leader?” is a question every life science trainer asks, and one that I’ve been investigating for the past 15 as a coach and trainer. Part of the answer is revealed in the two mindsets and three focal areas that follow.
First mindset is to base every decision on improving patient outcomes. Put patients first, next consider clinical practitioners, and then the right thing for you organization. This decision tree ensures integrity, value, and contribution.
Second mindset. Leaders think horizontally, while trainers think vertically. Being a SME – in sales, technical details, etc. – is vertical and functional. Leaders rise above their functional expertise to serve the total needs of the team and organization. They find ways to weave together different functions, not just promote their own.
Along with these mindsets, influential leaders master these three focal areas:
Thinking: Your focus and expectations
Relating: Your network and alliances
Behaving: Your actions and attention
Thinking is about what you focus on, and how you apply values to make decisions.
Leaders think about teams, while trainers think about content. Your team composition is among the most important leadership focal areas. Purposefully select the right people, develop their potential, and let go the wrong people.
Leaders think about innovation, while trainers think about learning. Your team often has great ideas; listen for them. Go beyond learning, and expect your people to execute and experiment with new discoveries and insights.
Leaders think about results, while trainers think about performance. Performance is a process and results are an outcome. Improving your peoples’ abilities is non-negotiable, but so is insisting on accountability for results.
“None of us is as smart as all of us,” and effective transition from trainer to leader has everything to do with your network, and your relationships.
Leaders are measured by the results they achieve through and with others. Listen in order to understand and foster collaborative relationships. Your followers will commit to decisions they helped formulate.
Become politically savvy. Organizational politics are often behind-the-scenes efforts to sell ideas, influence, increase authority, in order to achieve targeted objectives.
Avoid these traits: – Perfectionism: demanding that people do things exactly as you do isn’t leadership, its kindergarten supervision. Rather than perfectionism, strive for excellence. – Egoism: Big egos resist change, and insist on their viewpoint, perspective and communication style. This encourages defensiveness from others; the opposite of leadership.
When your behaviors show that you believe in your people, and that you are committed to their success, they tend to be engaged, loyal, and productive.
Regardless of your style, be authentic, it accelerates followership. What does it practically mean? Admit mistakes, delegate real responsibility, and be genuinely interested in people’s uniqueness and success.
Treat your leadership work and aspiration strategically. – Observe – what is the current reality and where can I add value? – Analyze – how can my skills and talents make a difference? – Plan – what do I want to accomplish through others in 3, 6, and 9 months – Measure – track relevant metrics and over deliver (or refuse to deliver)
We are conditioned to relate to authority with deference, so if you act authoritatively, you will be perceived as a leader. Be decisive, articulate vision rather than focusing on problems, foster collaboration, take healthy risks, and be accountable.
These insights aren’t exhaustive. Ultimately, your leadership talent will grow as you focus on your vision, bravely take healthy risks, persevere in your work, and take occasional leaps of faith.