As a senior leader, you’ll be well aware of the leadership challenges. The environment is often fierce. The expectations high. The pace of change incredible.
As a former HR leader in pharma, I’ve seen challenges with pressure to control costs of medicines, expiring patents, growing and shrinking R&D pipelines, pressure to control medicine costs, shrinking budgets, M&A, scrutiny from Health Authorities, the declining industry market perception from patients and consumers…and much more...that’s only skimming the surface of the internal impacts they have on all functions. Inevitably, the expectations upon leadership have continually increased and the bar has been consistently raised.
The pharma industry was impacted differently to many other industries during the pandemic, but with the spotlight now being on employee wellbeing, managing teams remotely and potential changes to policies such as flexible/remote working, many industries are expecting a lot of their leadership cadre. In addition, many leaders may be pondering their future, as COVID-19 has led many to re-evaluate what is important to them, having spent more time with their family and with staying safe and healthy being given the highest priority.
The result is many leaders being in a tailspin, working harder than ever and seeing a glimmer of the benefits of a more balanced approach to life. These thoughts and behaviours can cause confusion, which can lead to a loss of confidence in their strategic and tactical decision making, increased procrastination, reduced productivity, efficiency and ultimately, a loss of credibility and respect. For some it will lead to burnout.
A combined performance and wellbeing approach to senior leadership coaching is therefore needed now more than ever.
Outlined below are my 5 top reasons why:
Leaders need to:
1) Be effective in times of continuous change. In order to do that they must possess and develop the right mix of critical functional and industry skills; and personal attributes. These include leadership agility, resilience, strong self-awareness and adaptive capacity. Embedding this in the organisation, in order to grow leaders at every level makes for a more sustainable leadership cohort. Change is continuous and leaders need to be able to manage themselves and others, in order to support the organisation to be adaptive and agile.
2) Be part of the shift in leadership thinking around the world of work. Executive coaching is often seen as a rite of passage for senior leaders. However, the focus in previous years/generations and ‘old school’ executive coaching was strengthening the ability of leaders to jump between strategic and tactical performance, articulate visions and business strategies; manage ‘inner game’ and manage stakeholders. All of these elements are still important but in today’s world, not enough. Leaders who are able to look inward (to self) and outward (to others/industry), make connections and build peer communities that will create positive change in the industry will perform highest and strengthen your company’s position.
3) Be healthy in order to perform at their best. From experience, leadership performance is often hampered by a lack of focus on wellbeing. In many industries it is surprising that the link between leadership ‘health’ - as in high performance; doesn’t take a holistic view when it comes to mental health, stress and resilience. Wellbeing events for staff, mental awareness initiatives are all fantastic, but the link between the essential leadership trait of resilience; and the glossing over of leaders who may be on the brink of burnout is often missed when the environment is fierce and the expectations are high.
4) Be engaged at work and focus on employee engagement. By adopting a growth mindset – one that focuses on improving rather than proving (common amongst senior leaders who feel the need to prove their worth) can positively impact the ability of leaders to manage future challenges, and increase employee engagement. If the leader being coached adopts a growth mindset they will be more engaged in their work. By promoting this within their teams, for them to think differently, they will see potential challenges or threats as opportunities. They will continually improve. This will lead to higher engagement, team performance and morale, lower attrition, increased retention and a bigger impact on the bottom line.
5) Empathetic. Leaders who show empathy and relatability are able to motivate and inspire others. Many senior leaders lack these components of emotional intelligence. To show empathy and vulnerability is often seen as a sign of weakness. COVID-19 has demonstrated that empathetic leadership is essential. Leading employees through unprecedented change and managing the impact on their own personal life and family, requires a leader who can show empathy to themselves and others. Coaching and leadership development that can increase skill in perceiving, understanding and managing emotions and feelings will help them better understand how others are motivated and adjust their communication style and approaches to better manage themselves, their teams, peers and stakeholders – all of which lead to increased leadership confidence.
In reality, leadership or executive coaching is best thought of as a premium professional development offering that is only offered to the organisation’s most vital senior leaders, or promising talent, as a way to support long-term success of the business. However, investing in leadership coaching that enables leaders to perform at their best and be well, will ultimately lead to retaining and developing talent, will positively impact employee engagement, company results and reputation.
Supporting leaders with the challenges they face, the fierce environment, pace of change and high expectations is essential.
If you want to help your organisation to differentiate itself with performance and wellbeing coaching, contact us for a discussion over a virtual cuppa.