Why Having Adaptive Leadership Skills Is a Perk for Your Life Sciences Career

Leadership Concept

There are several different types of leadership. Some bosses are authoritarian, expecting their workers to do what they say without asking questions. Still others are democratic, asking those around them, including their employees, for their opinions before moving forward. Then there’s adaptive leadership, which seems well designed for the modern world of biotech, as well as other industries, as it allows for plenty of change and collaboration as things progress and evolve.

So, why are adaptive leaders so useful? And is this a quality that will benefit your life sciences career? Let’s explore this concept.

What Is Adaptive Leadership?

To begin with, an adaptive leader is one who’s able to change and be fluid. The very meaning of the word “adaptive” is used synonymously with “flexible.” People who aren’t stuck on one path or course, and are able to make changes, both large and small as they move forward depending on the circumstances, are adaptive. These leaders are visionary in some circumstances and adaptive in others.

However, there’s a bit more to it than a single leader. In general, adaptive leadership refers to the entire company. From the top down, the framework is in place to make certain changes as things progress. When a plan changes, either because the testing didn’t run like they thought it would, additional funding was raised, or the clients decide that they want something else instead, then the company leadership makes the necessary changes, and the entire company pivots as needed to follow them.

These adaptive changes mean that everything remains slightly flexible, as nothing stays the same over time. While there may not be huge changes in the ways that things are done, goals might change, an additional step may be added or removed, or a policy might be adjusted to focus on something else. No matter what, change is an important part of the company’s culture, from the top to the bottom.

Utilizing the Four A’s

When it comes to adaptive leadership, the framework that it is based upon usually includes the four A’s: anticipation, articulation, adaptation, and accountability.

The company anticipates any changes that may happen, keeping an eye on everything from studies to the news, looking for reports and other factors that may indicate that they need to move things around or redefine their goals.

Articulation goes hand in hand with anticipation. Once those new goals have been expressed or the company is aware that changes need to be made, then it’s important to explain – or articulate – them to the rest of company. This puts everyone on the same page moving forward.

Next, there’s adaptation. In order to create a culture where leaders, not to mention companies, are able to change goals and processes seemingly on the fly, there should be a policy of constant learning. This way, when new things are identified that will change their goals, everyone is ready to take the next steps.

Lastly, accountability comes into play. Adaptive leadership doesn’t just make top-down decisions. There’s a little bit of the democratic process involved as well, where people are able to provide input and feedback and actually have their concerns listened to and addressed. It makes everyone feel like they are part of a solution-seeking team.

Why Flexible and Adaptive Leadership is Essential

The real question is: why is adaptive leadership so important? In this day and age, not just the leaders, but everyone in charge of the entire company, needs to be able to adjust to what may come next. Businesses that possess inflexible leadership are often the ones who end up getting into fiscal trouble because they don’t have the ability to adapt as needed. They keep moving in the same direction, chasing those same goals, even when the goal posts have switched or disappeared entirely.

Thanks to modern technology and new ways of thinking and leading, adaptive leaders and the companies that support them are the ones that are moving ahead. They’re able to be as flexible as needed and have the network in place to switch goals and move things around when necessary, ensuring that they are set up for success. Nothing stays the same for long, and these companies are ready to anticipate the shift and are able to change in response, as they understand just how crucial it is to switch things up when the situation calls for it.  Adaptive leadership allows any company, biotech and other, to stand ready for anything that comes their way. And clearly, experience with adaptive leadership can help you onboard with a successful company who values this concept in every one of their employees.

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