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The Pulse of the Pharmaceutical Industry

How to Lead in a “Do More with Less” Environment

Written by: | | Dated: Thursday, July 13th, 2017


By Scott Eblin, best-selling author of “Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative” and “The Next Level” and coach to many pharma and Fortune 500 executives.

From the leaders of marketing teams to medical affairs, pharma executives are increasingly required to do more with less. While this is true across industries, the U.S. biopharma industry is faced with unique headwinds such as uncertain political and regulatory climates at home and abroad, along with challenges such as explaining the full value of products to price sensitive buyers.

Issues such as these underlie the reasons EvaluatePharma has cut its global revenue forecast for the industry by $390 billion from this year through 2022. The pressures aren’t going away anytime soon.

And with these pressures, your company must continue to look for ways to maximize efficiencies across the board. I see it in every pharmaceutical company I work with. This need to do more with less along with operating in a constantly challenging and changing environment can leave executives like you not only searching for ways to motivate your teams, but also ways to keep your own head in the game. Here are three tactics that have consistently worked for the pharma industry leaders I teach and coach:

First, remember that marginal gains are still gains. When you feel anxious, it’s natural to start projecting or even catastrophizing about what still needs to be done. If the process in front of you seems to require 100 steps, the natural response is to try to figure out every step all the way out to 98, 99 and 100. The problem with that, of course, is that by the time you get to step 98 in real time, the situation will have changed so much anyway that the 98th step looks nothing like what you imagined or feared it might look like during your frenzied internal projections. Perhaps more than any other industry I work in as a coach and leadership educator, success in pharma requires playing the long game. Remember, even the longest games are won step by step.

Remind yourself that gains are gains – period. Don’t just focus on what hasn’t been done; conduct a weekly inventory of progress made. You may be surprised at how that change in perspective helps you become more productive and less anxious.

Second, remember that you’re only as good as your team and that your team is taking their performance cues from you. When you’re the designated leader, you are always onstage, and the bigger your title, the brighter the spotlight. However you show up is completely predictive of how your team will show up. If you’re running around with your hair on fire over the latest setback or challenge, your team will too. Conversely, if you keep calm and carry on, they are likely to as well.

Which brings us to tactic number three: Be intentional about visualizing the outcome you want from every interaction with your team. To do that, get in the habit of taking a deep breath and asking yourself two questions: What am I trying to do? And, how do I need to show up to do that? On the what question, consider what you want your team to think, how you want them to feel, and what you want them to do. On the how question, move beyond thinking about what you’re going to say to how you’re going to say it in terms of your body language, tone of voice and the overall energy level you’re projecting.

When you’re operating in a do more with less environment, there are a lot of factors you can’t control. What you can control, however, is how you respond. These three tactics are a great place to start if you want to up your game.



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