CEO Carsten Thiel on Leading a Company
A leadership role is not one to be taken lightly. Without leaders, the course of human history would surely be less innovative, and collaborative. Leaders are the uniting force that facilitate change, giving people direction and bringing their individual strengths together to achieve great things. Taking on a leadership role can be a daunting endeavor, a feeling that is only exacerbated by the thousands of articles readily available to us via the internet, all of which purport to have the one solution to becoming a great leader.
The fact of the matter is there isn’t a single answer to the question of how to be a good leader. Each person’s situation is unique, and indeed they themselves will have different personality traits that will change how they best lead. However, one can still derive a great deal of knowledge from looking at the leadership paths of others. Below, we explore the tips provided by Carsten Thiel, CEO of the biopharmaceutical company EUSA Pharma. With almost three decades of leadership experience culminating in his current position as head of a company, Thiel has some unique insights on the pain points that come up when first starting in a leadership position and his ideas on how to meet them.
The first three months
Thiel has said that a previous boss of his provided him with an invaluable lesson about when you are first starting out in a leadership position. When beginning a new role, talk to as many people within your team as possible – at Thiel’s scale, he sets his goal at over 100 people within the first 90 days. His reasoning behind this is that before making any changes you must first understand how the people you lead hope to see you do so, and has never been left unsurprised by what he finds in these meetings.
Another way to have a lasting influence within your role as leader is to ensure the culture is tight. For Thiel, in meeting with his employees he found that they were consistently mentioning that something was missing in the company’s culture that was ultimately preventing it from reaching its full potential.
After calling an all-hands meeting with the entire company during which time they spent three hours reviewing what was working well and what wasn’t within the organization, the group as a whole came to the conclusion that two new values – trust and respect – needed to be added to the company’s language.
Finally, Carsten Thiel recommends that every leader ensure that those they lead understand the greater purpose for why they are showing up and providing their best work every day. Financial targets are certainly important tools for a company’s success, but they are not to be confused with a larger mission that will inspire people even when the work is occasionally difficult. Monetary compensation can only motivate people up to a certain point, but research is increasingly showing that people desire a larger reason for getting out of bed and to the office every morning, and it is the responsibility of the leader to provide it.