Can Biotech Be A Diversity Leader?
bedfordgroup.com

It's been a big year for biotech. And that momentum shows little sign of abating. Competition for top-seeded executives and board members has been fierce, with compensation at this level reflecting the sector's hunger for talent.

The "Board and Executive Compensation in the Biotechnology Industry" report’s intelligence gets more interesting where diversity and gender parity in the sector is concerned – and some fascinating observations can be inferred from that information. What can we do better? Where do we start?

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10 Succession Failures And How To Avoid Them

1. Lack of direction from the Board

The ultimate accountability for succession lies with the HR Committee of the Board, but it is no less a fiduciary responsibility for the CEO and the top team. Indeed, anyone privileged enough to hold down a leadership role has an ongoing responsibility to develop a successor.

The need? A far more rigorous approach to Board selection. A periodic assessment of Board "fitness for purpose". A regular review of governance provisions. Appointing adjunct Board members with specialised experience and know-how – for example, organisation culture, technology, the succession process.

2. A broken or incomplete process

A flawed process has one defining characteristic – it's not going to take you where you need to be. Conversely, a meaningful process displays all the attributes of a good map. It allows you to identify where the beginning of the journey is, where you need to get to and the key steps along the way.

The need? A rigorous and transparent succession process that allows the Board to understand the thinking and methodology behind "the names on the charts". A succession process that delivers a distinct and sustainable competitive advantage.

3. Confusing 'succession' with 'replacement'

'Succession' and 'replacement' planning build on very different assumptions. Replacement is essentially tactical - a contingency plan to put into effect should a mission-critical role unexpectedly become open. Succession is strategic - it's about tomorrow's leadership.

The need? Recognise the inherent value of both replacement and succession but don't confuse the two. Leaving a mission-critical role unfilled for an extended period of time can be horrendously expensive. It may even put the very future of the business at risk.

4. Casting too wide a net

The shorthand for focus is "less is more". This is especially the case when it comes to succession. The challenge? To identify mission-critical roles.

The need? Restrict the work on succession at the top of the organisation to mission-critical roles – the roles that really matter; the roles that, if filled poorly, can sink the ship.

5. Confusing 'high performance' with 'high potential'

Like riding a rocking horse, not everyone who 'rocks' is going places. It's a mistake to assume that outstanding performance translates into high potential.

The need? Define the specific competencies that describe future success in both the mission-critical role and the generic competencies that capture what it means to be 'high potential'. Selection isn't an exercise in abstract thinking. Make both succession decisions and identifying high potential candidates evidence based.

6. Poorly defined leadership competencies

A leadership competency describes future success in the role. It also captures the behaviours that separate an outstanding performer from one who is merely middle of the road. Three common pitfalls: falling back on generic terms; a myopic focus; relying too heavily on the manager in the role to capture the characteristic of future success.

The need? A comprehensive, up-to-date library of future-looking, thought-leadership-based, context-oriented, role-specific leadership competencies that embrace leadership balance.

7. Future culture is a "best guess"

Your culture is your brand. Succession based on wishful thinking is to place a blind bet on the future without any understanding of what you are actually betting on and without appreciating the damage you are doing to the brand.

The need? Responsibility for culture lies directly with the top team. What you don't measure, you can't manage. It is essential to (really) know: 1) where your organisation culture is today, and 2) where your culture needs to be to compete successfully in the future.

8. Coaching is "something we need to get to"

You can't grow the organisation unless you grow the people in the organisation. At the heart of 'growing' people lies coaching. Coaching isn't a 'sometime skill'. It's a systemic way to think about what it means to be a leader.

The need? As the business environment evolves, new knowledge, skills and capability are demanded. Without coaching, succession is an engine of future performance that is not firing on all cylinders. Those at the top must strive to become masterful in the art of coaching.

9. Misunderstanding what it means to be a team

It is little short of managerial incompetence to enter into the succession conversation without the key decision-makers stepping back to assess the future nature, needs and norms that shape the behaviour of the team(s) involved. And it matters … because tomorrow's organisation will be a team of teams.

The need? Factoring in the makeup and working approach of tomorrow's team(s) is a business imperative. As is uncovering meaningful ways to assess the team.

10. Succession candidates are poorly integrated into the new role

Derailment, no matter what form it takes, destroys value. If they don't land, they won't stay. It's not just a matter of fulfilling all of the requirements of the new role. The challenge is to do so as quickly as possible.

The need? A comprehensive executive induction process supported by both an internal mentor and an external coach. Assessment tools, access to supportive materials and the full support of both the hiring manager and HR are clearly essential. We have also found that a well designed and easy to access workbook is invaluable.

What next?

There are a good many issues that can derail a successful business. None, however, contain the potency for failure as having the wrong leader in the wrong role at the wrong time. Succession is a critical investment that you cannot afford to get wrong.

Why is succession so often adjudged a failure? Limited strategic awareness is the start of it. Being overwhelmed by the problems of the day is clearly part of it. But, more often than not, lack of practical intelligence is at the heart of it. To speak to a TRANSEARCH consultant about shaping tomorrow's leadership success today, please get in touch.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Diversity In The Biotech C-Suite Q&A
fiercebiotech.com

"If you're paying attention even a little bit to the diversity of the biotech C-suite, it's easy to see that there are few women or visible minorities at the top. But just how bad is the situation?"

The following is a Q&A with Fierce Biotech and Darren Raycroft, partner and managing director at executive search firm The Bedford Consulting Group.

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What Is Stakeholder Value?

"Stakeholder Value" is an idea being given a good deal of positive support by the who's who of business. Following their meeting in August 2019, the Business Roundtable released a new statement on "the purpose of a corporation". Signed by 181 top CEOs, they committed to lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders. That society is demanding a voice in the way businesses are run and is further endorsed by a change in corporate law in the UK in 2019. Companies on the London Stock Exchange must now report on both the "Employee's Voice" and "Corporate Culture."

Expect Boards to be far more involved in organisation culture in the future. Having run sessions on culture for Board members it's interesting to note that they quickly move from interest to enthusiasm once they realise that culture can and should be measured. Meanwhile, businesses that are truly stakeholder-driven have no problem attracting and retaining top talent. Patagonia, for example, receives 9,000 applicants for every internship.

Stakeholder value is also changing how intelligent organisations think about branding. Brand is more than a symbolic representation of the product or service being offered – it's the organisation's story simply told through compelling imagery and rich language. If, in the future, that story doesn't endorse the organisation's social and environmental contribution know that consumers will look to a brand that does.

George Wallace, Chief Executive, MHE Retail, put it this way:

"Brands that can show they are putting people or the environment ahead of sheer profit will be rewarded by consumers and employees and enhance the way they consider the brand."

Expect COVID-19 to transform a soft want into a hard need.

Insights from "Leadership: Moving Beyond The Crisis".


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Coming Down the Mountain: Coming Out Of This Crisis Stronger

Breakthrough technology, uncertainty and the unprecedented and ever-increasing speed of change demand an organisation that is a fit for the challenges of the 21st century. We are describing not just a better, but a very different kind of way to operate. An organisation built to change; one where disruption, agility and speed of learning dominate the leadership conversation.

Which brings us to the COVID-19 crisis. A crisis has three stages. Stage one: acceptance. Stage two: survival. Stage three: growth. And the winners will be? Those who come out of this crisis stronger.

Amid the veritable avalanche of "me too" advice on how to get through this crisis it is easy to overlook two central questions:

  1. "How will your business come out of this stronger?"
  2. "As a leader, how will you personally come out of this stronger?"

"Part One: Coming Down the Mountain" looks at how to come out of this crisis stronger:

  • The Three Stages of Crisis
  • Letting Go of Our Past
  • Following a Script From a Different Century
  • The New Normal
  • Coming Down the Mountain
  • Why Culture Matters
  • Next Steps
  • Appendix one: 3 X 3: Crisis, Culture and Change
  • Mindset Assessment: Will You come Out of This Crisis Stronger?

Download your complementary copy today »


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

The Now, The Next, and The New Normal
aesc.org

"It's important to take lessons out of this rather quickly. So, what can you learn out of this crisis? What can you do? How can you shape your solution? How can you shape your services? How can you shape the sale of your product? This is pretty much something that every single industry or every single client has to think about." - Ullrich Ackermann, Chair of the Board at TRANSEARCH.

Ullrich shares his views on dealing with the ever-evolving status of organisational life, with the AESC.

Read "The Now, The Next, and The New Normal" leadership insights

Seven Surprises for New CEOs
hbr.org

Leadership is fickle. As you climb the corporate ladder your role changes. When you lead a department you are expected to give orders. People look for leadership. When you lead a division you are expected to empower middle management. People look for guidance. When you become the CEO of a company you become a servant leader. People look for inspiration. Reaching the pinnacle role of a CEO is every graduate's dream, but when you finally arrive you have too much to do, with too little time and too little information. Moreover, you become a public figure and vulnerable to critique. Not everybody wears the armor to withstand such forces.

The findings of Harvard Business Review published in 2004 still seem relevant in 2020. Here are 7 surprises that new CEOs discovered when entering office:

  1. You can't run the company
  2. Giving orders is very costly
  3. It is hard to know what is really going on
  4. You are always sending a message
  5. You are not the boss
  6. Pleasing shareholders is not the goal
  7. You are still only human

Published by Michael E. Porter, Jay W. Lorsch and Nitin Nohria
From the October 2004 Issue

Summary by Geo Wehry, Senior Partner at TRANSEARCH, originally published on LinkedIn here.

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The mindsets and practices of excellent CEOs
mckinsey.com

"With this article, we set out to show which mindsets and practices are proven to make CEOs most effective. It is the fruit of a long-running effort to study performance data on thousands of CEOs, revisit our firsthand experience helping CEOs enhance their leadership approaches, and extract a set of empirical, broadly applicable insights on how excellent CEOs think and act."

Read "The mindsets and practices of excellent CEOs" leadership insights