Leadership is crucial for attracting, keeping and getting the most out of great talent.
Jon Beckstrand, MasterControl
Medical technology companies are among the leading drivers of innovation around the world, but most organizations are missing a critical element of building for the future. To ensure the creative future of the industry, we need to create intentional programs that will empower the next generation of engineering and business leaders.
The tech giants of Silicon Valley have provided a roadmap for businesses everywhere to follow. Former Google employees, for example, have created more than 170 startups, including Pinterest, AirTable, Nuro and others.
Much of this second-generation success is directly attributable to the Googles and Metas of the world creating formal, quality leadership training programs. These are typically built into their cultures, and medtech companies need to adopt a similar strategy en masse.
Building and training emerging leaders is a core responsibility of high-level leadership. In my 20 years as a CEO, my role has shifted from direct leadership to building leaders within our company. At MasterControl, we made deliberate changes in our organizational structure to cultivate those leadership skills and encourage innovation from everyone.
Here is a path companies can follow as they look to build for the future:
Make leadership a part of your identity
The importance of training future leaders became clear to me during an annual kickoff meeting a few years ago. We were in a phase of rapid growth, and as I stood to address the team, I realized that of our 500 employees, at least 150 were new.
There was a point during our startup phase where I knew every person and understood their work styles. When we hit around 300 employees, I realized that our team was too large for me to personally know each team member. But at this annual kickoff, something was concerning me. Not only did I lack a personal relationship with the new team members, but I did not know many of their managers, either. I was not confident that each new employee would experience a consistent and positive leadership culture. And I knew that without good leaders at the various levels throughout the organization, it would be hard to maintain collaboration, function as productive teams and retain talent.
We started what has become our leadership program shortly after. We have learned there are great benefits of having strong leaders throughout an organization and that poor leadership creates a significant drag on productivity. We have come to understand that creating a distinct leadership brand is incredibly important, not only for operational success, but also for recruiting and keeping great talent.
In the same way that a company focuses on branding and image when it comes to products and services, smart organizations also need to shape their leadership brand. During that fateful meeting, I knew what we had to do. If we were going to attract the talent that will build our company now and in the future, we had to make leadership a part of our identity.
Create excellent resources for training and support
The first step of our leadership journey was drafting a carefully considered statement of what an employee should expect from leaders at the company. This document became a guide for developing a five-point leadership code that informs our culture at all levels of the company.
The five pillars that make up our leadership code are:
- Creating a culture that encourages innovation
- Establishing a meaningful purpose for the work we do
- Building a high trust environment
- Treating people like people, not objects
- Building an active feedback loop
Innovation, purpose, trust, people and feedback — these five principles set a clear expectation of what our team members can expect from their leaders.
We have also invested significantly in deep training, libraries and new tools to help our people develop these skills at scale. Our efforts now are focused on creating professional course work — developed in-house — and teaching the courses throughout the year.
Ultimately, we hope that we can build well-rounded leaders where the skills they learn can translate to other companies, other opportunities and other places. Each company will have its own leadership style and should develop a curriculum that is relevant to them.
Recently, we decided to offer a course covering the five aspects of our leadership code to interested customers at our October Masters Summit. Building for the future will benefit when companies work together — especially in an industry as critical to wellbeing as medical technology.
Enshrine the leadership process across the company
The organizational cost of poor leadership is astounding. Managing a department where employees and managers have strained relations requires a tremendous amount of time and effort from the C-level.
In an industry that thrives on innovation to improve health and save lives, it is important that we do not punish people for trying to innovate and not quite succeeding. A growth mindset encourages honest effort and embraces the opportunity to learn when coming up short. Enthusiastic support in disappointment, with a focus on lessons learned, is one area where a skilled leader can make a significant difference for their team and the company.
Poor leadership issues become a top priority for me whenever they crop up at MasterControl. At times I spend up to 25% of the month just trying to help leaders strengthen their teams, build leadership skills and encourage collaboration.
Building our leadership process across the organization helps us minimize the impacts of these challenges. Leadership skills need to be learned and reinforced, and everyone is encouraged to learn and apply them in their areas. This means individual leaders can have a direct impact with their teams as well.
Executives must understand the value of their own leadership and make sure they impart the lessons they have learned to the next generation. It is long past time for our industry to create the sort of entrepreneurial environment that feeds the growth of companies in all industries.
Companies can be filled with leaders who encourage innovation and embrace growth. By establishing a reputation for training leaders and creating programs that support team members, companies can open the doors to influencing the future.
Jon Beckstrand is responsible for the overall direction and vision of MasterControl as CEO. He drives the company’s push for innovation, and advancing its position as a leading provider of quality management software and manufacturing execution systems for regulated companies.
The opinions expressed in this blog post are the author’s only and do not necessarily reflect those of Medical Design & Outsourcing or its employees.