7 Great Leadership Qualities to Drive Your Lab’s Digital Transformation

By Zareh Zurabyan 5 min read 04 May 2023

Leaders can come from anywhere within an organisation in the life sciences, where innovation and adaptation are essential. The newest research technician hired last week can be as effective at enacting widespread change through high-quality leadership as the 25-year industry veteran in the C-suite. In fact, change is often most efficiently implemented from the ground up rather than the top down. After all, the end user who has to use a new product or implement a new process daily is ultimately the best advocate for change.

So, what qualities does it take for an excellent leader to enact lasting change? 

In my experience, bringing the eLabNext digital lab platform to life science organisations big and small, I can tell you it’s no one thing. Good leadership stems from several shared attributes. Effective communication, inspiration, and others are all important, but it’s more than that. 

Here are 7 leadership qualities I’ve seen have a hugely positive impact when labs, big and small, are shifting to eLabNext’s digital platform.

Set Timelines Or Else Time Will Run Out! 

For any organisation, short- and long-term goals are critical. They provide a direction and focus for the months and years ahead and can fill lab personnel with a sense of purpose. 

To implement a new software platform (or any other change), focus on the 1-month, 3-month, 6-month, and 1-year milestones. The more specific and actionable your goals are, the better. With them, you may find yourself, your team, and your organisation more robust, with an idea of when and where to start or what success should look like. 

Here are some examples of what these goals might look like if you were adopting eLabNext’s platform:

  • Month 1: Get all physical items in the lab, including storage units, instruments, equipment, samples, and supplies, digitised.
  • Month 3: Digitise all protocols and projects and ensure everyone in the lab is comfortable using the new system. If they’re not, create a training plan to resolve this.
  • Month 6: Everyone in the company will utilise the new platform’s features to their full potential.
  • End of Year 1: Management has implemented protocols for reviewing data and analytics. The company has standardised and grandfathered in all workflows. If applicable, several automation features have been used to save time.

Of course, if you’re leading the charge on a different type of change, your goals will differ, but just be sure to set actionable, specific goals and timing associated with each.

Take Baby Steps, Get a Big Leap

One month is four weeks. That’s an average of 30 days or 720 hours or 43,200 minutes. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but when you plan it, you can easily designate a few hours a week for taking the “baby steps” of setting a basic foundation and infrastructure for your new change. 

If we take our first month’s goal from above, here’s what each baby step might look like for an eLabNext implementation plan:

  • Week 1: Set up all freezers and other storage units.
  • Week 2: Set up all equipment and supplies.
  • Week 3: Set up all sample types.
  • Week 4: Import all of your legacy samples into eLabNext.

Divide and Conquer!

You can’t do everything. No leader can. 

And you don’t have to. 

Together, as a team, you have a whole arsenal of strengths. And with those, you can divide and conquer the tasks ahead of you. 

Teamwork makes the dream work, and in the case of eLabNext, the dream is to digitise your lab. 

You can divide the tasks between the people in the team, and each person can take ownership of different portions of the project, depending on their strengths. 

Felicia can do the freezers, while Steve can set up the sample types. All while Emmanuel does the equipment. 

This way, you allow many perspectives, encourage discussion and brainstorming between folks, build team camaraderie, strengthen the digital foundation, and set yourself up to be a digitally healthy and sustainable lab for years to come. 

Lead by Example

As you’re dividing and conquering, lead by example. Pick one of the weekly “baby steps” and do it flawlessly within the timeline provided. 

And if you don’t, own up to your team and find a collective solution.

This will set the tone for everyone, inspire and encourage, and solidify your group’s learnings as tribal knowledge to be passed down to all new hires. Practising what you preach and vouching for what you know can benefit the whole lab. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help

If you’re confused or overwhelmed, going to someone for support or guidance can help you solve a problem or accomplish a task without wasting time. Asking others for help can sometimes feel weak, but all good leaders “know what they don’t know.” To continue with the example of implementing eLabNext’s platform, you can always request help from our experienced technical support (which prides itself on its expertise and customer success) or search through our resource library

Incentivize Key Users

Who doesn’t love a free lunch? At the 1-month mark, once all goals have been completed, you might consider rewarding key personnel that have helped you drive change. You could order food for the entire team or use the vendor (if applicable to your change) to help. 

When we’ve transitioned labs to our eLabNext platform, sponsoring a lunch and learn helps us build relationships and enables more effective communication. It also incentivises key users, which trickles downhill to inspire and motivate the rest of the team.

Review, Report, and Reap the Benefits

Review your overall progress at each milestone and report to the team. It is essential to see the change you’ve envisioned come to fruition! When we get buried in our tasks, we have difficulty stopping and smelling the roses. 

With eLabNext, the roses are your digital representation of your physical lab. Celebrate the first 100 experiments recorded. Or the first 1,000 samples created. These rewards can make it fun for people in the lab to stay encouraged and excited to keep on with everything they’re doing. 

Ready to lead the journey to digital transformation? Schedule a personal demo of our digital lab platform today!

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