Author Robin S. Sharma once said, “Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence, and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire your team-mates and customers”. In short, it’s not about giving orders or being in charge. Leadership is an attitude, it's an intuition that is crafted over time.
A leader is infectiously motivated and is truly passionate about achieving success. Across the span of your life sciences career, you will not always be in charge, but that shouldn’t stop you from exercising leadership skills. In this blog, we explore what leadership as a skill is, why it’s important and how you can apply leadership skills at any stage of your career.
What is leadership as a skill?
Leadership is a soft skill you can show even if you’re not directly managing others. Soft skills are defined as the personal qualities that determine how someone works on their own and can collaborate with others. Also commonly referred to as "people skills" or "interpersonal skills”, those with strong leadership skills will have the ability to empower others and lead teams to success, making it a particularly sought-after skill for employers.
Why is leadership an important skill?
Employers want people with leadership skills because leaders can make things happen. A recent study of 2,048 professionals, polled by Censuswide, showed over half thought leadership skills were the most essential quality when hiring someone, ranking leadership skills higher than verbal communication, teamwork skills, empathy, and problem-solving.
A company's success significantly depends upon the leadership abilities of its employees. By inspiring and encouraging others, leaders help their organisations strive to reach their goals. Regardless of your position, understanding the role of leadership can help you contribute more meaningfully to working towards helping your company achieve its long-term strategic goals.
What are the most important leadership skills and how can you apply them?
To be a great leader, you need to be well-rounded and demonstrate you have a range of strengths including:
Decisiveness is a vital leadership skill as it can help move projects along faster and improve efficiency. To show you can make effective decisions, pull from your own experience with similar tasks and evaluate what might work best. Once you have made a decision, make sure you’re confident in taking responsibility for the result, even if it doesn’t always go as planned.
Good leaders are creative, they are always coming up with innovative ways to overcome challenges and achieve results. You can apply creativity to many situations in the workplace, it’s all about coming up with new ideas, possibilities, and perspectives.
Communication and leadership go hand-in-hand. To be an effective communicator you need to be able to listen, and take on board what other people say. It’s important to show you don’t just have good communication with your team but also with the wider business.
In business, it can be useful to put yourself in other people’s shoes and truly empathise with their perspectives. Empathy in leadership contributes to positive relationships which in turn drives better results. To show you’re empathetic you need to be able to connect with many types of people and adapt your style depending on who you are interacting with.
Problem-solving skills can help leaders make quick decisions and resolve challenges. Problem-solving is all about using logic, as well as creativity, to make sense of a situation and come up with the right solution. All most all jobs, will need some level of problem-solving. It’s important you try to expose yourself to new situations, this will give you the opportunity to practise your skills and help you to learn effective ways of overcoming bumps in the road.
How else can you demonstrate leadership?
As well as demonstrating you have the skills to be a leader, there are also other ways you can strengthen your credibility:
Thought leadership is the expression of ideas that demonstrate you have expertise in a subject matter. Establishing yourself as a thought leader is a fantastic way of building your reputation and being at the forefront of your industry. First of all, you have to decide what you want to be known for. Where is your expertise? To build your personal brand, you need to consistently post content on social media that helps you to build trust with the audience, that shows you are knowledgeable, and that you have valuable insights.
Join a professional association
Get involved with a professional association in the life sciences industry by attending meetings, networking with members, and perhaps serving on the board. You will learn a lot from an association, and it can be great to take this information back to your team. Start out by attending events and then find out how you can get more involved. You can also really strengthen your leadership skills by volunteering to lead a committee or organise an event.
Go beyond your job title
Going above and beyond shows your strong work ethic. If you want to show you are leadership material, think of ways you can break the boundaries of your job description. A good way of showing your commitment is putting yourself forward to take on more responsibilities or taking on a new challenge.