Life science companies require the capacity to change and adapt quickly to win in today’s marketplace. Unlike sports where the rules of the game are defined, the playing field in the healthcare marketplace is changing rapidly, creating much uncertainty.  Using a metaphor from the sports world, “agility” is defined as the ability to move with balance, speed, strength, and coordination to achieve a competitive advantage.

For leaders and learning organizations alike, it is important to determine if your leadership development efforts include the following elements:

Balance:  For athletes, balance is the ability to maintain equilibrium when stationary or during movement.  In the workplace, it is not unusual for employees to be “off-balance” when changes are coming one after another. Over time, change fatigue sets in and resistance may increase. To improve balance, develop leaders who are quick to accept the need for change and make a personal commitment to drive the change.  Leaders and learning programs need to focus on helping individuals continue business requirements while still pressing ahead with change initiatives.

Speed:  For athletes, speed is the ability to think and react quickly.  Include in leadership initiatives programs that help employees make decisions faster and respond to customer demands more effectively. Programs focused on process improvement, change management, stakeholder engagement, and teaming can accelerate performance.

Strength:  Athletes, no matter the sport, dedicate time to a disciplined strength training regimen to improve overall performance. The same can be said for strengthening individual change agility through effective transition coaching and skill development. The best leaders identify challenges employees face personally and professionally during transition. They focus on uncovering individual reactions to change and closing any skill gaps.

Coordination:  An athlete must possess a high degree of hand, eye, and body coordination.  The changing healthcare marketplace requires more coordination across functions and across customer-facing roles.  To improve collaboration and coordination, leaders need to help team members understand how broader goals translate to their areas of responsibility and leverage individual diversity of talent and skill sets.

The dynamic healthcare environment requires change agility leadership skills to prepare employees for constant change and to ensure wins at the individual, team, and organizational levels.

Wendy L. Heckelman, Ph.D.

Dr. Wendy Heckelman, president and founder of WLH Consulting, Inc. has over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 100 industry clients. These include pharmaceutical, biotech, health care, animal health medicines, and consumer products, as well as international non-profit organizations and growing entrepreneurial companies.

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