We are not physicians or public health experts …we are Change Leadership Experts.  As change experts, we know that living in a VUCA world characterized by Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity is the backdrop for what motivates strategic change and the need for leadership agility.  COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is testing leaders’ agility on multiple levels.

As your organizations make critical business decisions about functioning, employee work practices, and customer interactions during these challenging times – each organizational leader has added responsibilities to their teams and to themselves (and by extension, their families).  As leaders, your actions and communications (quite literally) will contribute to the safety and well-being of others.

Agility is the power to move quickly and easily. In athletic pursuits, agility is defined as balance, speed, and flexibility.  We want to share some important leadership agility tips to help you during these difficult times.


Balance is the ability to maintain equilibrium.  When high levels of uncertainty exist individuals become frightened and feel “stressed.”  Acknowledge the members of your team who may be concerned about many things, from personal and family safety to financial repercussions, as well as the ability to do their jobs.

Tips for yourself:

  • Start by accepting your own concerns and unease regarding the current state
  • Acknowledge that work pressures may increase as you are called upon to do more or do things differently
  • Accept that access to others may be limited

Tips for Leading your Team:

  • Remember key concepts from Situational Leadership and that each team member may react differently to change
  • Take time to check in with each team member, ask questions, and listen.
  • Seek to find out what help and support people need with regard to their own personal circumstances
  • Make sure team members appreciate other colleagues who are shifting priorities to limit others’ work disruption


For athletes, Speed is the ability to think, react, and move quickly.  The same concept applies to leaders, especially during times of crisis when decisions must be made swiftly, often with limited information.

Tips for yourself:

  • When making decisions, consider the impact to all affected parties (i.e., customers, employees, and the organization as a whole)
  • Remember, core company values as an input – especially concern for the patient.  For some bio-pharma companies, this will mean accepting limited access to healthcare systems and sites of care.  However, these same limitations may provide opportunities. How can your company, resources, and team contribute to solutions or reduce burdens to systems?

Tips for Leading your Team:

  • Recognize when to use different leadership and decision making styles – due to time limitations or availability of others who are now working remotely
  • Navigate roadblocks and help your team get the resources they need; especially if remote
  • Adjust plans and course correct when needed


Flexibility is the ability to work nimbly in all dimensions – -how you work, with whom you work, and what you are working on.  Given the crisis, what seemed important yesterday to your team, customers, and self may not be as important today. Revisit priorities.  What can you still achieve while continuing to work under these difficult conditions? How can your team help customers?  How can they help others in the organization?    For our pharmaceutical industry clients, we know that hospitals, physicians, and other healthcare stakeholders are literally preparing for the worst.  Their priorities have changed and remaining sensitive to their needs and concerns must be foremost in your customer engagement activities.

Tips for yourself:  

  • Take time to revisit established priorities and reset as needed
  • Know the strengths of your organizational network and leverage appropriately
  • Determine if time spent on leadership development or other training should become a higher priority as other projects or customer engagement responsibilities have lessened

Tips for Leading Your Team

  • Be clear on what you want to communicate to your team on shifting priorities and job responsibilities
  • Flex your communication style to gain agreement and work effectively
  • Engage in joint problem solving
  • Be open to new ways of working and leveraging technology for virtual meetings and learning development

WLH remains your partner and a resource as you and your organization may face leadership agility challenges.  We can quickly support you with virtual blended learning solutions.

Wishing everyone calm, safety, and good health.

The WLH Team

WLH Consulting & Learning Solutions

We are change, leadership, and L&D experts focused on companies in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry.

Change AgilityChange Leadership