Magazine Article | March 4, 2014

4 Power-Thinking Strategies Of Centered Leaders

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By Frauke Schorr, Ph.D., founder and principal, Centered Leadership Institute, frauke@centeredleadershipinstitute.com

The life sciences world has enjoyed many decades of solid success, manifested in a culture of a fairly stable, predictable environment. Unfortunately, pace and predictability in the industry are changing significantly, challenging also the typical work culture. We are looking at leaders within companies to change the communication culture among their teams to become more efficient and agile in decision-making processes, exchanging information, and moving things forward at an increased pace.

This is a challenging endeavor, as leaders often grew within the industry and found comfort with established ways. The most powerful step toward cultural change, however, is for leaders to change their own behaviors.

We conducted an eight-year study based on observation and interviews of successful entrepreneurs and leaders. The study showed specific thinking habits that are indicators for the success of these people. It has been said that “Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” Understanding the success patterns of others helps us to review and start applying the same thinking habits ourselves. The insights from this research, coined as “Centered Leadership” principles, may give leaders in the life sciences sector a new mental and behavioral approach for their organizations:

  1. Expertise Vs. Curiosity
    When a large number of highly educated people work together, it can often create a culture of demonstrating expertise rather than displaying curiosity and a willingness to grow and stretch. Centered Leaders ask: “What can we learn, and what else is possible?” rather than “What can I teach?”
  2. Attachment To Outcome Vs. Present-Moment Focus
    In a very science-oriented environment it is not unusual to focus on the end goal and try to draw a line toward the outcome. Yet, in a fast-changing environment, this can lead to missed opportunities. Centered Leaders in the study first ask, “What is needed right now?” and only then do a directional check, “Does this align with our overall goals?”
  3. Leading From The Head Vs. Head-Gut Alignment
    In the business world in general, and especially in a culture that is heavily rooted in logic and science, decisions are often solely made from a rational standpoint based on hard evidence. Centered Leaders say, “Decision making is certainly important from logic. But it is also important from your gut. Often logic gives you the answer, but your gut makes you stop and analyze deeper. For best decisions, head and gut need to be aligned.”
  4. Clarity Of Personal Strengths And Passions & Leveraging Others To Offset Limitations
    Successful leaders in the study had a high level of clarity about what they are good at, what they care about, what gets their energy moving, as well as their weaknesses. They consciously position themselves to leverage their team members’ talents, knowledge, and interests to complement their own skills and create sustainable success.

Adopting thinking patterns of highly successful leaders can help pharmaceutical and biotech leaders to model more efficient ways to deal with an increasingly fast-paced environment for themselves and their teams. Reviewing your own thoughts and beliefs, and adopting proven successful ones as needed, are powerful steps toward change.

Change is inevitable. Leaders cannot just demand it from the organization, they have to embrace it for themselves to truly lead.

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