Changing parameters - the evolution of leadership in life sciences

New models and target therapies are having a major impact on the Life Sciences sector. Moreover, technological advancements and the digital revolution as well as macro-economic developments are transforming the way we live, work, and do business.

Big data, open source access, changing relationships with institutional and advocacy associations, dynamics in physician and consumer communication, as well company reputation management are all factors altering the scope of the industry. The shifting boundaries have become even more prevalent in the last five years, with new roles emerging in both traditional and more innovative environments. Our offices in Milan and Rome are being asked by companies to fulfill new needs by searching for unconventional talent.

To face these big challenges, the need for flexible and innovative talent is paramount. Healthcare companies are struggling to understand the best way to represent themselves in front of new skill sets, experiences, and traits. Generally speaking we are entering a new leadership era.

As executive search professionals, we see how quickly the traditional model of Talent Acquisition and Management is becoming old, unsuitable, and wasteful. At the same time we are continuously acting as true partners with our clients, advising them to change their paradigms and to think of creative solutions.

Implementing a new and agile model of leadership management and assessment should encourage companies and consultants to be part of the same team. When done properly, employees are more willing to share their diverse points of view for best practices and processes. It makes it easier to reach a joint win-win solution.

A key takeaway for clients in the new talent battle is to focus on candidates’ soft skills even more than their experience and knowledge. This is crucial because skill requirements are changing faster than the time it takes to learn the hard skills. Selecting a candidate that is confident, adaptable, and willing to learn will be the best decision rather than selecting the most qualified candidate based solely on their background.

Signium’s recent Intuition Index confirms that intuition, or soft skills, are a highly desirable business asset across the globe. We spoke with 600 business leaders in 12 different countries and 96% of respondents stated that intuition is important. Of that number, over two-thirds of business decision makers think that intuition is very important when hiring and promoting staff.

A new focus on innovation through intuition is not found only in the Life Sciences sector. The number of companies across markets branding their leadership style as open, creative, inclusive, and culturally sensitive is increasing. We are seeing Boards of Directors endorsing non-traditional paths at different levels of the organization.

This is greatly affecting the recruiting arena. We are being asked to change our paradigms related to competency models and to alter scouting and assessment for traditional roles to include broader perspectives. When filling new roles and leadership positions, more importance is placed on unconventional skills, adaptability, agility in identifying disruptive solutions, and aptitude in handling ambiguity and uncertainty than ever before.

Talent assessment KPIs will measure candidates and incorporate different perspectives to determine capabilities. We should be comfortable knowing that we need to take more risks when considering candidates and to give chances to the ones who are ready to jump on a truly innovative project. We need to understand how to adapt to a new and contemporary interpretation of traditional roles, and constantly adjust to the continuously changing environment of executive search and leadership consulting.