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September 22, 2021 by MJ Kim 3 min read

“Leadership is about being present, engaging with an open mind and connecting with your team” — Perspectives of CEO Yan Zhang

As the CEO of Mission Bio, Yan Zhang has more than 15 years of experience in commercial team management, product management, business development, and marketing. Recently, Yan shared her perspectives on transitioning into a new level of leadership such as a CEO role at a new company in an article. In the article, now published in Forbes, Yan reflects on the five things she learned while getting to know her employees during her first few months as CEO.

We’ve reprinted excerpts from her article below. You can read the full article on Forbes.


We’re all anxious to connect with one another.

The challenges of operating during the Covid-19 pandemic are well documented, but it’s clear that as the public health situation improves and things move back toward a semblance of “business as usual” that employees are anxious to reestablish some of the working relationships that may have suffered over the past 15 months. This is worth keeping in mind when planning what the work environment at your company looks like going forward.

That goes for the social aspect of work culture as well, as there is a desire for it that fell by the wayside during the pandemic. It wouldn’t be surprising to see more companies consider planning more activities to promote bonding outside of the office once it’s safe and practical to do so.

A compelling mission is crucial.

It’s great to say that you have a mission you believe in as a company, but it only works if everyone in the organization buys into it. Fortunately, I got the sense that our employees, from new hires to people who have been with us for years, feel that our work to help researchers and clinicians unlock single-cell biology to enable the discovery, development and delivery of precision medicine is making a difference.

If you find that isn’t the case when speaking with your employees, ask yourself what changes could align your mission with the values most important to your team.

This is many employees’ first job.

I was struck by how many people I talked to who are just taking the first steps in their careers. There were numerous employees who were recent college graduates, joining us to accept their first jobs.

Younger employees bring both energy and new ideas to the workplace that can be infectious in a very positive way. Realizing that will help me and the rest of our leadership team think differently about how to connect with them and identify what is most valuable to them, and it may for you too.

We need to find more ways to align across the organization.

Great companies are as buttoned up with their internal communications as they are with the image they present to customers, partners and other stakeholders. In reality, internal comms can be challenging, but speaking with our employees reinforced the need to make it a priority.

The pandemic has played a role here too, changing the ways we interact. But it has also provided new tools and potential channels for the flow of information between different levels of any company, and you should have an open mind about using all of them to make sure your team is pulling in the same direction.

Nothing beats talented and dedicated employees.

It was legitimately inspiring to see how many smart, engaged people are working for us. It showed in the number of good ideas generated just during my discussions with them, and the common themes and thread that ran through our conversations.

It’s slightly cliche, but we’re all ultimately in the people business. Figure out ways to attract and hire the best talent and to retain and reward the employees who make your company soar — these strategies that will always be worth the effort.

Read the full article on Forbes.

About the Author

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