Leadership in the Pharmaceutical Industry – the Quality Culture-Oriented Approach


Leadership in the Pharmaceutical Industry – the Quality Culture-Oriented Approach

“Being a leader can be a struggle at times. Too much work, not enough people and tons of ideas to improve. It’s hard to choose, as they are all important. So I work on as many things as I possibly can.”

Sounds familiar?

I believe ownership is the core of leadership, teaching other people to become leaders. There is nothing more demotivating than being responsible for getting the job done, but lacking the authority to make any meaningful decisions.

To illustrate the importance of ownership, allow me to present you with a small case-study:

John is a highly experienced operator. When he was offered the job of supervisor, he felt flattered and accepted without hesitation. His new position presented him with a new challenge, he suddenly had to lead a team of colleagues, lacking any and all experience in doing so. His employer had no training program to develop his leadership skills. Sadly, John’s initial enthusiasm turned into frustration. His manager, despite having the best intentions, unwittingly conveyed to John; “you are responsible for your team, but you are on your own.”

Although our example is purely fictional, situations like this occur everywhere, and not just in the pharmaceutical industry. As a manager, you must guide your employees when you promote them. After all, a promotion is not only a rise in pay but usually includes a hefty increase in the day-to-day activities. 

Some are born with a natural talent for leadership but, unfortunately, most people, have to learn how to lead as it requires very specific talents and competencies. Mastering these competencies enables you to keep oversight, set priorities, manage time more efficiently and motivate your personnel. I have seen many “fresh” supervisors and team leaders drown as a result of their newly acquired responsibilities, experiencing their inability to lead effectively (without proper training/support) as a failure. However, in the end, their managers are the ones to blame.

We must, however, keep in mind that no one is perfect, not the manager, not the supervisor, nor the operator. We all forget certain things, to create a leadership training program could simply be a managerial oversight. If you find yourself in a position to lead as a manager or supervisor, you might find our three leadership competencies useful.

Leadership Competences

The Competencies a Leader Should Master Are:

1.            Being an experienced people manager

Work is never a matter of just doing the work as you are told. How you appreciate, involve and hold accountable your team all add up to your team member’s behavior and final output.

2.            Understanding the process (see the second article in this series)

You will need to understand the process your team is working on. Additionally, you will need to have the technical knowledge required to support your team when they encounter problems.

3.            Being aware of the regulatory expectations of manufacturing and logistics (see the first article in this series)

The pharmaceutical environment has strict legal regulations that need to be followed. Knowing what these regulations are and how to practice these will increase your effectivity remarkably.

Each of these three competencies could be further developed. Usually, numbers two and three are included in the existing training programs for managers. However, the first topic, people management or leadership skills, is often omitted.

Perhaps your company has a complete program to support your managers. If not, I would like to invite you to develop such a program or start working on your leadership competencies. Get yourself and team leaders trained in the art of working with people. It will boost the company’s Quality Culture, leading to an increase in effectivity. You could either develop and implement such a program within your organization, or work with an experienced training company within the pharmaceutical environment.

A first step would be to ask yourself the following question: What can I do to develop a great team?

My answer to this question? A new training coordinator is starting at PCS this week; her name is Emily. I am planning to welcome her sincerely and get her trained on becoming a leader herself.

Happy to hear your response!

Warm regards,

Karen Zimmermann

Training: Leadership in the Pharmaceutical Industry

PCS organizes the training “Leadership in the Pharmaceutical Industry” in the Netherlands on the 16th of October, 2018. A one day, interactive course on the essentials of effective leadership. The course is designed to explore where you, as a manager, can improve on when it comes to quality culture, leadership styles, communication, and teambuilding.

Unable to attend or do you live outside of the Netherlands / Belgium? You can request this course to be performed in-house by contacting PCS at info@pcs-nl.com or calling: +31182503280. 

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