Leadership comes in all forms. It can be as wide in scope as some of the most well-known leaders in history such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Winston Churchill, to as small as a local community meeting. Leaders bring with them a vision that others can get behind, inspiring others toward change. We need leaders in order to achieve further human progress.
Within organizations, a leader is responsible for the overall culture of the company, creating expectations that set the tone for how it functions every day. For first-time leaders and those who simply want to improve their leadership skills, this can be a daunting realization and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Looking to the internet for tips can often only further overwhelm you, as everybody’s leadership experience is unique and based on differing circumstances.
However, this isn’t to say that wisdom can’t be derived from others who have tried similar paths. With almost three decades of leadership experience within the international pharmaceutical industry, Carsten Thiel has worked with companies of all sizes to build teams both large and small. The breadth of his experience has pinnacled at his most recent position as CEO of the oncology and rare disease-focused biopharmaceutical company EUSA Pharma, after serving as president of its European operations for two years before that. According to Thiel, a leader can ensure effective change as a result of their leadership by focusing on an organization’s values and its purpose.
Values are the codified experience you want those within your organization to have. When Thiel began his turn as CEO, he said the company had already put into place five values that they stood for. However, while they had worked effectively in the past in discussing with over 100 employees, he found that there appeared to be something missing from the organization’s culture that was preventing it from reaching its maximum potential.
To get to the root of the problem, Thiel called for a company-wide meeting, during which time everybody came together on a conference call and spent over two hours deliberating about what the company needed to change. Looking at the way they listened, talked to, and treated each other, as a group they all formulated the words “trust” and “respect” as two values that needed to be added to the company’s values. Since then, the concepts have been fully integrated into company culture, from hiring process questions to metrics in performance reviews.
According to Thiel, money is not a strong enough motivator to create an organization that is thriving. Instead, it is a leader’s job to unite everybody in their different positions and roles toward a single greater purpose. Within Thiel’s pharmaceutical company, people who work in the research and development of drugs may not have felt that they had much of anything in common with those who work in the company’s financial department, and without a strong purpose could become short-sighted and define their role simply by the work they do for it.
Developing and defining the company’s purpose can foster increased collaboration, highlighting the mission that people show up to work toward every day. It is a strong motivational tool that leaders must ensure is clear and effective in order for it to be successful.