Leaders Activate the ‘Hero’ Within to Enhance Performance

Asha Collins, Head of Clinical Operations, Genentech

Looking for ways to galvanize your team and bring out the best in your colleagues? “Make everyone a hero,” says Asha Collins, head of clinical operations at Genentech.

“Give people purpose,” Collins says, fresh from leading her team successfully through the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally able to catch her breath a bit after a historically hectic year, she is now able to reflect on lessons learned during the crisis that she believes have made her a better leader in the present and for the future.

For example, the massive demands of COVID-19 made it clear there was “lots of work” for everyone, Collins says. Her takeaway? Delegate where possible and admit you “don’t have all the answers,” as a leader.

Collins also found that by encouraging everyone to show “grace and compassion” for each other in an unprecedented time, her team and those interacting with it banded together to reach new heights. “We tried to be heroes for each other,” she says, in part by being flexible in terms of adapting to other employees’ changing schedules and recognizing people had different demands on their time, both personal and professional, that sometimes changed from day to day.

“You can’t expect people to always work on your schedule,” Collins adds. Especially during a time of crisis like the battle against COVID-19, she and her team at Genentech made extra efforts to encourage everyone to “take care of their whole selves.” That sometimes meant juggling work hours, taking breaks during the day for childcare or other vital domestic duties, or working on projects asynchronously via tools like Trello Board where participants can check in and update a project on their own timetable.

Meanwhile, as the COVID-19 crisis has in many ways forced the clinical trial industry to adjust how it operates today, Collins for one wants to hold onto some of the lessons she has learned this year. “Allow people to work as they need to work, and trust they’ll get the work done” even as the current crisis fades, she says. “I want to hold onto that [philosophy].”

Author: Michael Causey