As medical affairs leaders, we are always thinking about the development needs of our teams, however, in talking with many leaders across organizations, there is consistently very little focus on people leader development needs. As we consider how vital it is to invest in our staff to help them advance their competencies, growth should not end when one moves into leadership.
Recently, I was planning a leadership meeting for our field teams and wanted to include some leader training. As I considered what topics they might be most interested in, I started to lay out a framework for the leader curriculum and reached out to multiple leaders to get input and confirm that the proposed curriculum was comprehensive for the leader needs of those new to leader roles as well as those who had been in leadership for much longer. Ironically, it was after laying out the curriculum that I wanted to ensure it matched people leader capabilities and competencies.
I set off to work on a framework for people leader competencies and then matched it to the curriculum as another check that it was covering all key areas we had envisioned. Additionally, I reached out to multiple senior leaders and field directors to get their input to see if anything had been left out. What began as a quest for some leader training has morphed into the People Leaders Competency Model detailed below.
For anyone who is in a people leader role, this type of tool serves as a useful self-evaluation to consider what areas may be worth investing in for continued growth; there may be opportunities to confer with the leaders above to get their input on development and training needs, as well as obtaining vital funding to support time, money and resources for leadership development. If we believe that investing in staff development is essential to our business needs, there can be no exception to the people leader development needs; people are our most valuable resources in an organization. Everything we do to upskill and hone or polish competencies will further elevate the success of the organization. Everyone should have an IDP (individual development plan), people leaders included!
As you reflect on the people leader competencies below, it’s time to take stock of areas where you excel and those you want to bolster; what approaches can you take to advance your skills? Would an immersion experience for a week or two be helpful? Are there leadership initiatives or projects your direct leaders are involved in that you may be able to participate in for development? Is it time to delegate some of your tasks to trusted team members for their development to allow you to take on new projects for growth?
Keep your focus on competencies that will lead you to the next level and your leadership will undoubtedly propel you onward!
Medical Affairs People Leaders Competencies
Change leaders create or promote a changed vision, develop a plan for change, and manage resistance and conflict throughout changes within the organization. The roles of change leaders include communicator, advocate, coach, liaison, and resistance manager; a key to being a change leader is communication, collaboration, and commitment.
- Change agility and management
- Inspiring and motivating others
- Influencing and persuasion
- Instilling trust and integrity
Collaboration with Others
Collaboration in organizations is essential to afford synergy that elevates the medical and business objectives. The sum of the whole is bigger than the sum of each part. Working together collaboratively results in greater accomplishments as we leverage strengths and diversity on our teams.
- Adaptable, polished communication styles
- Customer focus
- Emotional Intelligence
- Conflict management
- Teamwork and collaboration
- Cross-functional partnership / networking
- Leading without authority
- Active listening
- Presentation skills
Strategic Business Focus
Strategic thinking involves seeing the big picture of your organization and the specific paths to its growth amid changing trends and competition. Having business acumen means understanding all the ways your team contributes to the organizational mission. Understanding the organizational strategy is the foundation for achieving business goals. The strategic focus areas expand on an organization’s vision and create structure around how to help your organization to achieve its goals.
- Strategic thinking
- Decision making
- Planning and organization
- Defining and facilitating medical strategy
- Technology, data, and digital fluency
- Innovation & creativity
- Business and budget planning
- Managing upward
- Compliance knowledge / COIs
Having a drive for results means consistently maintaining high levels of performance, productivity, stamina, effectiveness, and determination. It also means having perseverance even in the face of adversity, obstacles, or resistance. It means taking personal responsibility, accountability, and always looking for ways to improve.
- Performance management / PIPs / off-boarding / incentive compensation program
- Written and verbal feedback
- Staff recognition
- Virtual team coaching
- Accountability culture
- Effective management styles
- Cultivating and socializing best practices
Developing people means growing others’ technical expertise and competencies by understanding more deeply both the practice and foundation of what is essential to achieve business objectives. Growing the team’s expertise requires the ability to evaluate capabilities for a role prior to selecting candidates and honing key competencies to enhance the individual performance and contribution to the organizational objectives throughout the tenure of staff under a leader and across the organization.
- Recruiting, interviewing, and selecting staff
- Retaining top talent
- Crafting IDPs / Providing mentorship
- Employing diversity, equity, and inclusivity on teams
- Considering clinical/scientific acumen needs (how to deepen knowledge and stay current)
- Supporting training and development programs
Cherie Hyder, PharmD, MSL-BC
Cherie Hyder is Syndicated National MSL Director at Syneos Health. In her previous job at Biohaven Pharmaceuticals she supported a virtual launch of Nurtec ODT for acute migraine. She has been involved in drug development for more than 30 years, working at FDA in CDER and pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer, Lilly, Novartis, Solvay, and Avanir, among others. At University of Missouri, she received a Doctor of Pharmacy degree with the intention to devote her career to pharmaceutical research. She has multiple adjunct faculty appointments and enjoys teaching opportunities.