Pharma Scientists Learn to Be Better Team Players

IA's Strategic Leadership Skills program helps scientists learn to think better together, reconcile differences and give effective feedback.


A 127-year old pharmaceutical and medical devices company, with seven divisions and five product areas — and more than 100,000 employees in 130 countries — was facing tough competition. Its challenge was to retain its experienced employees, while attracting and recruiting the brightest young minds, while capitalizing on its global operations. While the business is very successful, the leadership – smart, Type-A, left-brain men and women – knew they must look at their challenges in new ways and develop cross-functional and cross-cultural/country collaboration in their ranks in order to stay on top.

What IA Did

The leadership engaged IA to develop more than 150 leaders in the U.S., Asia and Europe, using a program called Strategic Leadership Skills (SLS). This leadership development workshop focuses on business acumen, teamwork, and strategic thinking. Participants take part in a simulation which allows them to run a business, and make discoveries about themselves as team members and leaders, in a low-risk environment. The SLS program offers opportunities for leaders to work together both cross-disciplines and cross-functionally. They are guided to find their commonalities and share a common language around leadership. The hands-on nature of the program allows them to realize their strengths while they practice skills in which they may need reinforcement: strategic thinking, agreement building, inquiry and advocacy, listening, business acumen.

Return on Involvement

With the introduction of these new skills, leaders have frank discussions about how they can work together successfully despite time zone issues, cultural and language issues, and regulations, and the varying opinions of stakeholders. They hash out how to work together better across countries. The program gives them necessary time and energy to focus on themselves, increased self-awareness, and introspection that leads to being more effective, collaborative leaders.

Most of these leaders already have a strong skill set to run their business — they don’t need to throw a bunch of new tools in their leadership toolkits. They are able to apply the same tools and processes they use in their work, to leading other people. SLS gives them the awareness to make conscious choices depending on the individual they are leading. Because they don’t give or get a lot of feedback ordinarily, the team members deepen understanding and appreciation of each other over the course of the workshop, and gain a heightened awareness of the value of giving and receiving performance feedback.

Project at a Glance

Strategic Leadership Skills helps scientists collaborate in teams to boost efficiencies and productivity, across cultures, languages, and time zones.