Are You the Leadership Problem? How to Improve Your Leadership Skills to Get the Results You Want

man standing in front of semi-circle of colleagues

Over the last few years, large organizations in the life sciences and pharmaceutical industries such as Theranos and Turning Pharmaceuticals, have been marred in allegations of fraud and other illegal activities. These companies were once revered and put on a pedestal, so what could cause an organization to fall from grace so quickly? Obviously, inaccurate claims, false pretenses, and ineffective products could be major factors, but when you dig deeper, you can get to the root of the problem. Ineffective leadership can create toxic environments, corporate cultures without a sense of trust, and lead to overall chaos.

Elizabeth Holmes, Founder of Theranos and Martin Shkreli, Founder of Turning Pharmaceuticals were both listed as part of Fortune’s 2016 feature of The World’s 19 Most Disappointing Leaders. While serving as Founder and CEO of their respective companies, both Holmes and Shkreli managed to instill fear, doubt, and utilize intimidation tactics with anyone who dared to challenge them internally or externally.

Negative corporate cultures and large-scale cover-ups are not limited to companies valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. Unfortunately, these occur on a regular basis at companies of all sizes. As a leader within an organization, have you ever been a part of creating a negative environment? If so, it’s important to acknowledge the truth to move forward. After all, that is your role as a leader. Here is how to improve your leadership skills to get the results you want!

Assess the current situation

Many employees, managers, and executives might get the feeling that something is off within their organization. They might notice high turnover, low morale, and a lack of employee engagement. One problem is that many of these aspects can appear subjective without thorough analysis. Conducting an anonymous survey, an assessment, or some other objective collection of feedback can help you get real insights from your team. If you’re already aware that there is a lack of trust in your environment, having an external firm perform the assessment can be best.

Get an outside opinion

It’s extremely difficult to be unbiased within your own organization because you’ve developed your own ideas, thoughts, and opinions since your arrival. Reviewing your survey or assessment results with an external advisor, business coach, or consultant is usually the most effective way to analyze information. Practice being open-minded and prepared to hear comments that might be critical. Developing strategies to discuss and address key issues highlighted by the data with your external professional, can help you begin creating a plan.

Have open meetings with your team

While this might be uncomfortable, you must share at least part of the assessment results with your organization. When employees take their time to complete a survey or assessment, they are invested in knowing the results and ultimately, what changes come from it. Depending on your company, you might want to have open meetings to discuss the data, small group meetings, or individual conversations with your direct reports. Regardless of the type and structure of the meeting you facilitate, it must feel like an open forum that encourages honest feedback.

Work with your HR department and/or an external coach

Once you’ve isolated any key issues or challenges within your team, it’s time to implement a strategy for moving forward. Do you want to increase productivity, morale, or employee engagement? Or, are you more interested in improving overall company culture? Whatever your goal is you will need to ensure you have a plan in place that will actually support your success. Collaborating with your internal human resources department or an external coach is ideal. You will probably need someone (who isn’t intimidated by you or your position) to hold you accountable.

Recent events within the life sciences and pharmaceutical industries have shown that strong leadership doesn’t always naturally occur based on someone’s job title. Without the necessary leadership skills, organizations can become toxic environments. As a leader, if you sense that you might be the leadership problem, objectively assess your current situation. Be sure to get an outside opinion from a trusted professional, and have open meetings within your company. Finally, working with your HR department and/or an external coach can help you focus on making necessary improvements. What is one thing you can do today to improve your leadership skills?

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Porschia Parker is a Certified Coach, Professional Resume Writer, and Founder of Fly High Coaching. She empowers ambitious professionals and motivated executives to add $10K on average to their salaries.

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