Sean Jeffries of BioCare: Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Uncertain & Turbulent Times
Value your team. When people feel undervalued, they are usually less productive. Rather than bringing ideas and solutions to the table, they begin to embrace a “that’s not my job” mentality.
As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Sean Jeffries, Vice President of National Accounts for BioCare, Inc. As Vice President of National Accounts for BioCare, Sean oversees the strategic and daily operational, financial and administrative activities for the company. He also provides cross-functional leadership to multiple departments including finance, analytics, inventory management, customer service and more. As an expert in organizational growth, sales initiatives and change management, Sean drives valued partnerships and leverages key relationships with manufacturers, GPO partners and customers to support revenue targets and growth initiatives. Sean has been a member of the BioCare team for about 10 years.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I always knew that I wanted to work in the healthcare industry. Initially I thought that I was going to attend medical school. However, I changed my mind when I met someone who was getting a degree in health services administration. From there, my interest shifted to the pharmaceutical and biotech industries.
After finishing my Masters, I worked in pharmaceutical sales for several years before joining the team at the Children’s Hospital Association in Kansas City, MO. A springboard for my career now, I had the opportunity to work with various stakeholders in both the healthcare and supply chain industries. The relationships and competencies I developed at CHA are resources I continue to use in my role at BioCare, where I serve as the VP of national accounts.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
When I first started working with the BioCare team about 10 years ago, I wanted to prove myself as the new head of operations. One day, I was working on a financial spreadsheet, struggling to find a specific solution for hours. Even though I had access to a team of people, I wanted to solve the problem myself.
Finally, I gave in and asked a colleague for assistance. He showed me a simple fix and I immediately found the answer that I was looking for.
From this experience, I learned that it’s OK to admit when you don’t know something and rely on your teammates for help — that’s exactly what they’re there for!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I have been lucky enough to work with two incredible mentors who have helped me along the way.
The first is someone I worked with at the Children’s Hospital Association, who was truly passionate about doing his best work for patients. This is a sentiment that I carry with me today at BioCare.
The second person taught me the power of finding common ground when working with a variety of stakeholders. With a knack for simplifying complicated issues, he showed me the importance of boiling down information so that it’s easily understandable for everyone involved.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your organization started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
At BioCare, we deliver critically needed and potentially life-saving therapies to patients with rare, ultra-rare and orphan diseases. Ultimately, we want to help ensure that patients across the country have access to the right medications at the right time.
Rather than being laser focused on dollars and cents like so many other organizations, we are committed to doing anything and everything needed for our customers and their patients. This sense of purpose is what unifies the BioCare team.
Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?
As a leader, your employees take cues from you on how to react during uncertain or difficult times.
For this reason, I try my best to remain measured, consistent and supportive. It’s important to provide stability for your team and act as the “calm center” amidst a storm.
As an example of this, BioCare was recently acquired. With this big change, several team members understandably had questions about the future. Recognizing that feelings of uncertainty were creeping up, I made sure that everyone felt secure in their positions and clearly communicated the benefits of this shift.
Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?
There is almost always a time when a person comes to a fork in the road and is faced with a difficult decision: to either give up or continue.
I believe that persistence is what separates those who find success from those who don’t. For me, my three sons sustain my drive. I aim to set a positive example for them, always considering the characteristics and attributes that I’d like them to build. For this reason, I push them to continue, even despite challenges, and I push myself to do the same.
Do you have a book in your life that impacted you and inspired you to be an effective leader? Can you share a story?
The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons from a Life in Coaching by Dean Smith, John Kilgo and Sally Jenkins has greatly impacted my leadership style.
Always leading with humility, college basketball coach Dean Smith took accountability when his team failed and recognized and praised others when it succeeded. Rather than taking a punitive approach, he viewed mistakes as opportunities for learning lessons.
From this book, I learned the importance of empowering employees to take on new opportunities and challenges, even if it means they make a mistake or two.
What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?
As a leader, it’s important to remain transparent, open and honest during challenging times. Employees want to feel confident that there is a direction and vision coming from leadership.
Additionally, provide your team with reassurance to build feelings of purpose and belonging.
When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?
Spend quality time with your team and show them that you truly care about their wellbeing. Ask them questions about their concerns and fears, helping them work through the uncertainty.
Additionally, paint a clear picture of how they fit into the larger scheme of the organization, providing them with the information they need to envision how their roles can continue to evolve.
What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?
Always be direct and honest. Employees can see right through a leader who is not being transparent or forthcoming.
At the same time, never lose your sense of compassion. Put yourself in your teammates’ shoes and consider how they will react before delivering difficult news.
How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?
As a leader, you must be able to acknowledge when change is needed and act accordingly. It’s important to not only be flexible, but to also be humble when making plans for the future.
Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?
Trust and empower your employees. When times are tough, you must be able to openly share information about the challenges you’re facing and involve your team in strategic discussions. Remember, it’s not uncommon for employees to offer ideas and solutions that leadership hasn’t yet thought of!
Can you share 2 or 3 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times?
- When leadership tries to control the narrative and messaging too tightly. This lack of transparency causes people to form their own conclusions about what’s happening.
- When leadership does not instill trust in their team. In difficult times, it’s important for leaders and team members to work together to overcome hurdles and find solutions.
Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times?
- Be humble. Acknowledge that you don’t know everything and be open to asking for help and learning from others who are experts in their fields.
- Be accountable. Recognize when you’ve made a mistake and take accountability for it. This demonstrates vulnerability and shows your employees that they’re allowed to take chances and make mistakes, too.
- Value your team. When people feel undervalued, they are usually less productive. Rather than bringing ideas and solutions to the table, they begin to embrace a “that’s not my job” mentality.
- Welcome questions. Don’t shirk the opportunity to provide your team with guidance, no matter how busy you are. Help your team navigate issues and identify resolutions.
- Leave room for failure. If you don’t allow your employees to take on new challenges, they’ll never have the opportunity to learn from past mistakes and grow.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail,” attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson.
This is relevant to me because when I was about 25 years old, I was working at a job in the small town I grew up in with little opportunity. A friend of mine convinced me to take a leap of faith and move to Arizona, something that was completely outside of my comfort zone. Because I took the risk to uproot my life and expand my horizons, I was able to forge my own path.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Readers can follow my work on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sean-jeffries/.
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!
Sean Jeffries of BioCare: Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Uncertain &… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.