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  • Writer's pictureClare Nasir

The Signs of a Successful Executive Candidate

The recognisable qualities that make a great leader in Life Sciences


Rachael Broderick is a global senior research and delivery lead with Chaseman Global. She has a stellar reputation.


She has an impressive track record; uniting top executive talent and organisations in Life Sciences, resulting in long-term successful outcomes for all parties.


Here are Rachael’s insights…


The Qualities of Life Sciences Leaders


While growth and profit fuel the long-term success of a product or service, the Life Sciences sector has an underlying mission to improve the planet. This includes an inherent and altruistic set of values that not only support the backbone of company culture but fundamentally must include business practices that are equitable and transparent.


Candidates positioning themselves as senior leaders need to be at the top of their game. At this point of their career, having learned from the mistakes of others and their own, they confidently enter these higher levels of management promising quality assurance.

Management Style?


Long gone are the days of the top-down style of management. Many organizations now adopt a matrix-style or project-led structure, encouraging cross-team collaboration, where ideas and suggestions are welcomed. I have found Life Sciences companies are keen to push boundaries in management style, particularly young businesses with creative and maverick founders at the helm.


Prospective candidates therefore must display an underlying appreciation of behaviours, beliefs, and mindsets that determine how employees interact. Building a high-performing company begins with nurturing cultural competence that threads through the whole of the business.


Communication doesn’t just arrive in a weekly email; it’s interactive, empowering, engaging, authoritative, coaching, and ever-evolving, always with a healthy dose of inspiration and aspiration.


Leadership qualities are hard to find — but when you spot them, you know.

There are, however, several underlying traits that can identify true value; it’s imperative therefore to spend time in one-to-one conversations with a candidate to go beyond the surface level.


Visibility within the Business


Active, interactive, and available leaders bring out the best in their teams, there is no hiding behind a desk or closed boardroom door.


Company staff want to feel invested in the business — it’s more than just working for the boss. An executive with a positive presence is motivating and productive and, and long term will build a team that adds tremendous value to the organisation. These professional characteristics must not be mistaken for someone who swans into a room just oozing charm and charisma.


Visibility instils a wholesome and grounded workplace.


There are also numerous external co-benefits; from how clients and stakeholders perceive the company to attracting future talent.


Enabling and Empowering


Stand-out leaders walk forth with a defining vision that is relayed effectively to the business, whilst delegating the ‘how’ to those who transform the vision into reality. Empowering individuals to take ownership of their contribution creates a committed environment allowing people to flourish, ultimately maximising outcomes and results.


It’s a no-brainer.


Humility


Leaders are not expected to be the only ‘expert in the room’, but instead facilitate an atmosphere of openness, learning and engagement. Encouraging and developing collective expertise from their team begins by leading with a clear and human approach.


Equally, someone who asks questions, listens and responds spreads a sense of trust throughout the organization.


When interviewing candidates, I am looking for this.


Do they listen?


Do they interact respectfully?


Do they answer my questions or deflect them?


Are they engaging in the conversation?


Are they open communicators?


Will they leave their ego at the door?

Networking Skills


It’s essential to understand the candidate’s network. Executives are ambassadors for their companies. Critical skills include presenting, diplomacy, negotiating and always relaying an intelligent commentary of relevant industry news. Building relationships across the industry should be natural and continual.


Before even embarking on my initial interviews with a prospective candidate I am well versed in their history, narrative and network; it paints a sharper picture of who they are.


Professional Development


Identifying clarity in a candidate’s mindset is an early plus point. This quality, when it transcends all aspects of leadership, from planning and business strategy, interpreting relevant minutiae of market trends to understanding the team dynamic, is a recipe for effective senior management.


Sometimes this can be evident in their history of professional development.


We often hear that learning never stops, and it’s true of most star-quality leaders. Pursuing professional development, industry expertise, technology specialisms, or expanding knowledge more broadly into operational and long-term business strategies, particularly in the rapidly changing Life Sciences markets shows versatility, adaptability and confidence in driving a business to new echelons of success.


Courage to Make Tough Decisions


It takes an intuitive and confident individual to execute calculated risks in the pursuit of growth and excellence. As important as it is to establish relationships internally with direct reports and the wider team, the overall requirements of the business at large must be a central focus, and sometimes won’t align with the former. Company decisions aren’t always easy and often impact team members.


Understanding a candidate’s ability to combine business intelligence and market information to provide transparency in decision-making has to be a key trait. This can be evident from previous employment records but also can be revealed through assessment profiling or during the interview process.


Such questioning is reinforced during the final shortlisting stages when the candidate is interviewed by the organisation.


I’m not just looking at data-driven decision-making ability but how they bring others along on that journey; can they internally influence others to reach the end goal? Do they exude a moral framework that will always have the best interests of the organisation, its products or services, and its people?


So in short, finding the right candidate is part investigation, part analysis.

The Many Approaches to Profiling


It’s imperative I take the time to get to know a candidate, not only during the one-to-one interviews but also by listening to those around them; their colleagues, their direct reports, and those at the senior leadership level. I ask myself, do these accounts back up the profile?


There are also other approaches such as the formal executive profiling reports that can complement these other tools in the assessment arsenal.


We have experts within our team at Chaseman Global that execute psychometric evaluation. These tools are useful for validation purposes towards the end of a selection process and reinforce the hiring stakeholders’ opinions of the potential hire as well as creating an excellent onboarding platform to ensure success in their first hundred days.


It’s an industry standard practice and helps indicate performance enhancers and inhibitors.


That said, I am prepared to use all resources at my disposal to place the right candidate in a position. Intuition and experience mean that on rare occasions I will pull a shortlisted candidate at the 11th hour from a final interview if the different aspects of their profile don’t clearly align. I am not going to risk offering a ‘bad hire’ to my client.


Conclusion


Ultimately, the best leaders lead by example. They understand it’s not about them, but they are there to serve the company. Staff are sensitive to every perturbation in behaviour, decision-making, and conversation and need/want to be guided and empowered to make a difference in the industry.


Individuals choose this sector for the innovation, services and aspirations to provide intelligent solutions for the survival and betterment of all. So the expectation is incredibly high for executives entering this space; they should not only enhance these qualities but drive businesses forward in an ethical, equitable and transparent fashion; mirroring the broader values of the Life Sciences industry.




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