At Radyus Research, we are committed to supporting first-time CEOs and company founders in biotech in their paths to success. Becoming a first-time CEO can be incredibly exciting but can also be quite a daunting task. As a CEO of a development-stage biotech company, the difference between success and failure can be incredibly thin. Because of this, we have prepared this blog post to share some tips that first-time CEOs can implement to ensure the best chance at success.
Plan for the Best and Prepare for the Worst
This mantra has become increasingly common as everyday life advice, but it is also highly relevant for CEO-level executives. Within biotech specifically, it is important to develop a two-track plan for the future to account for as many complications as possible. By planning around the data and reports you have access to, you can begin to carve out an effective path for your company. However, if situations change and your ideal plan is no longer an option, having a backup plan for the worst-case situation can enable you to lead your company through trying times and maintain overall success. This process of planning and mitigating different contingencies also builds trust with your employees, shareholders, and board that the company is being directed by strong leadership.
Having the ability to be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances will help set you up for success. This is because there is no avoiding the uncertainty that comes with bringing a drug to market as it moves through clinical trials. Having backup plans will help lower the risk by diversifying potential offerings. For example, by having several drugs in the pipeline targeted towards different patient populations, you have a higher chance of getting to market and gaining the investor base necessary to open you up to new opportunities.
Trust Your Team, but Hold them Accountable
Many CEOs tend to remain focused on the specific areas that made them successful once they reach top-level management. However, it is important to realize that the science and research that made you successful and earned you your position is not what will make you successful as a CEO. Instead of focusing on the experiments and data that your teams will be working with, your primary purpose now is to be more involved with leadership and goal setting. As a strong leader, you will need to give up some control over your typical areas of expertise and trust that your lower-level teams are composed of qualified members who will be able to complete their research and testing on time and of a high-quality manner. It can often be difficult for a founder who has put in an immense amount of time and effort into building the company from the ground up to avoid the temptation of micromanaging out of fear of making mistakes. As CEO, you should instead be aware of what is going on within the teams and have a keen understanding of the obstacles the company is facing. From there, you can direct resources where they are needed to support your teams. As a result, you will enable your company to complete outstanding work, beat expectations, and save lives.
Avoid Decision Paralysis
Operating in biotech, you will likely need to make many decisions based on a wealth of data, research, and testing. It is critical that you thoroughly analyze this information to make the best decisions for the company. There is, however, a point where too much information can lead to decision paralysis, where you make lagging decisions due to an overwhelming amount of data inputs. There needs to be a balance between data-driven decisions and timely action within your company. As CEO, you direct that balance and need to communicate it with stakeholders. If successful, you will be able to quickly understand the takeaways from research and testing conducted within your company and use that information to make business decisions. This quick turnaround and action would not only help the business succeed, it would also inspire the team.
Develop a Culture of Continuous Feedback
As a new CEO, it is important that you open yourself up to honest feedback and criticism for the benefit of the company. It is critical that you develop a collaborative culture within your company where employees and teammates feel comfortable sharing advice, feedback, and constructive criticism with you so that you can succeed. In order to create this type of environment, you must be transparent in laying out the strategy and execution plan to your team. This will empower your team to share their views, allowing you to make more informed decisions through more thoughtful analysis. Additionally, having other C-suite level executives that can respectfully challenge your ideas would allow the company to benefit from different perspectives. Once this type of culture has been developed, employees at all levels will be empowered to support their managers with advice and feedback, enabling great success.