In this episode, I have the privilege to interview Walt Offen –  a statistician who is about to end an amazing career over a couple of decades of working in the pharmaceutical industry.

Walt organized together, what he believes to be the 20 key attributes of highly successful leaders. They are organized in no particular order but are enriched with great stories.

Of course, there is a difference between leadership and managing. Leadership is the ability to inspire others when there is no supervisory control. For a highly effective organization, everyone can and should be a leader. In part one, we cover the first 10 out of the 20:

About Walter W. Offen, PhD

Distinguished Research Fellow

Global Head of Statistical Sciences


Walt is currently Distinguished Research Fellow.  He heads up an organization comprised of Statistical Innovation, Safety Statistics, and Non-Clinical Statistics.  He received his PhD in statistics from the University of Florida in 1980. His career began at Eli Lilly, spanning 31 years.  He joined AbbVie in 2012. His interests include novel clinical trial design and analysis, Data Monitoring Committees, and multiplicity.  Walt was inducted as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 2007.

  1. Having a can-do attitude
  2. Being able to apologize
  3. Inspiring others to join the cause (without authority)
  4. Share credit
  5. Show humility
  6. Be trustworthy and develop trust in others
  7. Engaging everyone on the team, making them feel valued and important
  8. Remain calm, be kind to everyone
  9. Provide opportunities for others to shine
  10. Putting the organization, colleagues, the company, ahead of personal goals


20 key attributes of highly successful leaders – lessons from Walt Offen – part 1

You’re listening to the Effective Statistician, episode number 23, Leadership Learnings with Walt Offen.

Welcome to the Effective Statistician with Alexander Schacht and Benjamin Piske, the weekly podcast for statisticians in the health sector designed to improve your leadership skills, widen your business acumen and enhance your efficiency. In today’s episode, we will chat about 10 leadership lessons together with Waldhofen. Waldhofen is probably the most influential leader in statistics that I actually know.

So he’s super humble, so he may not get from the discussion how much he knows about all the different things, but he has so much of an in-depth knowledge and is such a great guy. I very, very much enjoyed everything together with him. And he’s so humble, you know, just a short story.

development opportunity where I flew over to the headquarters and I sat down with him just during a break and he was asking me all these different questions and I said well shouldn’t I be the person to ask questions here?

But he is so curious, so humble and really very, very much interested in people and people leadership. And so stay tuned. This episode is really very much longer than the usual ones, but there’s so much really, really great stuff in it.

just when re-listening to it, I found it very, very inspiring. So stay tuned. This podcast is created in association with PSI, a global member organization dedicated to leading and promoting best practice and industry initiatives. Join PSI today. Develop further your statistical capabilities and get access to special interest groups, the video on demand library, free

and much much more. Visit the PSI website at to learn more about PSI activities and become a PSI member today.

Welcome to another episode of the Effective Statistician. Today I’m actually alone here hosting this podcast because my co-host Benjamin Pisgill can’t make it for some other work today. Because we also, of course, have another regular job that we are paid for. But I’m together with an old colleague of mine.

Walt often said he used to work for Lilly and is now working for AppFee. Hi Walt. Okay. Thank you Alexander. Just a little bit of background on myself for those who don’t know who I am. I received a PhD in 1980 from University of Florida and I went directly to Lilly and I worked at Lilly for 31 years. I retired in 2012.

And after a weekend of retirement, I started work at Abbey. And I’ve been at Abbey since then for about six years now. And a couple of comments to start. One is that during my time at Lilly, a group of us, about six of us, organized a leadership program for statisticians at Lilly. And Gary Sullivan has taken that to the ultimate in that he is involved in ASA leadership programs today.

The other thing I wanted to say is as Alexander and I talk about leadership attributes and ideas on how to develop those, I don’t consider myself an expert in all of them by any stretch. I think there are a large number of them where I see that I can improve and I wanted to just mention that disclaimer to start. So with that, Alexander, you want to? Yeah, very good. Thanks a lot. So basically

20 attributes of highly successful leaders based on world’s experience. And obviously, as he had just explained his very long experience. And that’s why I’m very, very happy is that we kind of have that’s distilled into these 20 actually quite actionable things to consider. Today will be actually the first episode where we cover the first 10 of these

list of 20 and next week you can hear about the other 10. So let’s start with the first one, Walt. What’s the first one on your list? So the first one on my list is having a can-do attitude. And what I have seen throughout my career are people who don’t just kind of be passive and wait for someone to suggest that they do something.

but rather they see what needs to be done and they make it happen. And that’s something I would say for fresh graduates that have no experience, it’s more difficult, but as they gain experience, they sometimes are the ones with the greatest knowledge in a group setting and can actually inspire other people. So one thing that I just realized I forgot to mention early on, which I’ll say right now.

is a difference between managing and leadership. Leadership is for everyone. And it’s really important for a successful organization that everyone has leadership skills and continues to develop them. And a definition that we had at Lilly, and I still have it in my mind, a very simple definition is leadership is the ability to inspire others without authority. And if you think about that for just a minute, it makes it.

kind of actually difficult for a very senior manager to show leadership because a senior manager can go to their subordinates and say, I want you to do so and so and they’ll do it. So yes, they’re following the person, but it’s challenging and important for the leader, for the manager, I should say, to do it in a way that inspires the people to follow them. So like I say, everyone should be a leader and strive to be a leader.

And the simple definition is the ability to inspire others without the authority to make them do what you think they need to do. So the can-do attitude is for everyone. I’ll give you some examples. I’ll give you an example of myself first. And I call it just volunteering for things. In my career, first 10 years or so, I did very little, if anything, externally. I gave some talks externally, but I did very little.

And then I realized, you know, I can be more active in the profession. And, and so I volunteered to join a farmer group, which has just been disbanded almost 10 years ago. Now it was called Bay, uh, biostatistics and data management technical group. And so I volunteered to join that group and, uh, and I volunteered for other activities and ultimately became the chair of that organization for a couple of years and then past year and so on.

That gave me an opportunity to be influential with regulators because that was a key thing that that group did. It was a cross company or a group of about 15 people that included statisticians, programmers, and data scientists across different companies. And so from there, I just latched on to other opportunities of doing some research within that group.

publishing it and having influence on regulators. So volunteering is important. In terms of that, what would be the opposite of a can-do attitude? I would say it’s a good question. The opposite of a can-do attitude is being very passive. Basically you know what work you’ve got to do, you do that work and then in a sense you

if you will. So the opposite of it is, is not really using your brain to help the or the greater organization understand what needs to be done, and actually helping drive the team or the organization to have it done. So the opposite is being very passive, very quiet. So being proactive and proactive, yes, seeing where the work needs to be done, picking it up.

and moving with it. That’s right. Yeah. Yeah. Another term that’s been used, I think, is self-initiation. So one, and actually, you know, as I interview candidates for jobs at AVI, that’s something I’m looking for. I’m looking for somebody that shows some history of just volunteering, of taking the ball, if you will, and inspiring others really to get something done.

as opposed to somebody that just takes courses, they might get straight A’s, but they don’t really show any leadership potential. Great. Very good first point. I have a little more on the first point I want to say. Two more things. One is everybody probably has heard people in management say…

individuals are responsible for their own career. And in a sense, having been when I was in my early age, it’s like, what do you mean I’m responsible for my own career? I don’t necessarily know what I want or what I need to do. But I think it’s important, it’s part of this having a can-do attitude, is people really need to talk to a lot of other people, learn how to network.

and just gather information from others. And in the end, it is true, all of us are responsible for our own careers. If we want to go to very high levels of leadership, then we as individuals need to figure out with input from a lot of people on what we need to do to develop ourselves, to develop those skills. So I wanted to make that comment. And then the other, I want to give one example that I still remember from the early 1980s.

And it’s not, I was part of a team of physicians, statistician, programmer, and there were probably six of us, so a few other folks were there. And we had a two week, I remember this very clearly, a two week deadline, and everybody felt initially as we got together, feeling like we can’t do this. We can’t do this in two weeks, it’s not doable. And so one individual who was a CRA, Clinical Research Associate, I think was the term at the time.

inspired everybody and just said, we can do this. We can make this happen in two weeks. And sure enough, the team did. We came through. And to me, that example has been in my mind for most of my career, that being able to not necessarily just follow what, you know, this is supposed to take one day, this is supposed to take four days, and so on, and adding it up and saying, it’s going to take us three weeks.

I think if you have a can-do attitude and you really focus on it, there are many great things that can be accomplished. So I wanted to share that example there. Yes, that’s, I think, a very, very good point. And I think the point with the CRA clarifies that it’s not about management or not about role power. It’s about the relationship power that you can develop.

influence and inspire others because the CRA had no kind of role power in the sense that he was a supervisor in anything. And also what’s interesting, he had, of course, no kind of special expertise power in kind of making this thing. It was just about how he convinced others to do it and inspired others.

think outside of the box to find solutions on how to get it done in two weeks. Yep, that’s right. Good. Let’s move on to point number two, which is a very interesting one. Yeah, yeah. So I have the second one is, and by the way, these are in no particular order for those on the phone. It doesn’t mean the first one’s most important or anything. I created this list just as it came to my mind. But

This is important, I think, being able to apologize. Now, in a way, I’ll say this too, some of these points have more relevance to managers, senior people, this one, I kind of think of it in that term, but it can apply to all of us. So everybody makes mistakes. And I’ve known people that are on both extremes, some who will never say, I’m sorry, or say that was my fault.

I take the blame for that. And then there are others who apologize quite readily. Where I make this point is that for senior leaders in particular, if something goes wrong, honestly, often that senior leader wasn’t even aware. So in a sense, you could say, well, they don’t need to apologize. It wasn’t them. But it is their people, their organization, and they should be able to take the bullet for their people.

There are some very recent examples. I’ve got three, and I’m just going to mention them very quickly. But just recently in Philadelphia, in Starbucks, a couple of African-American customers were there and the police came in, they arrested. I don’t know if everyone knows this story, but it’s making a big splash here in the United States right now where people are avoiding Starbucks and so on. The CEO came out on the news and accepted the blame.

said we’re going to make changes, we’re going to train our people, this is not acceptable. And that is so critical. There are other examples, I won’t go into the other good ones, but there are other examples where the senior leader takes several days or even never comes out and says, this is on me, I’m sorry this happened. I’ll also use this opportunity to say what you’re going to see in my comments throughout these sessions is…

I draw a lot of analogies from leadership to sports to raising children and to military. And I just mentioned that now and actually I guess I could say to other businesses as well. But, yeah, that’s the main thing I have to say. Why is this apologizing so important for a leader? What kind of…

Doesn’t that make him look weak? Good question. I think it’s the exact opposite. So you know, if you picture us on a team, we have a supervisor, we make some mistakes and other people notice it and they criticize. So they criticize the department. A leader who just says, well, that was Alexander’s fault. I can’t believe he was so dumb about it or whatever.

That’s going to make you not feel very good about that leader. You’re not going to have trust. You’re not going to have respect, as opposed to a leader who’s willing to take responsibility for it. And the leader, again, doesn’t have to be a supervisor. It could be just somebody on the team that says, look, this is my fault as much as yours, even though maybe it was somebody else’s fault. Being able to share the blame means everybody that that trust.

connection that relationship connection has just been fortified. And that’s why I think it’s that important. It goes back to the kind of it trusts, it builds more trust. Builds more trust. And it collaborates. And it provides a more safe environment to work in. Yes. And to your question on the other one, the opposite would be people pointing fingers.

And if you think of being on a team where every time there’s a little mistake that happens, everyone’s trying to make excuses, well, it wasn’t my fault, it was Joe over here. Um, that team is going to disintegrate. They’re not going to work well together. No one’s going to trust anyone. Everyone’s going to be covering their own behind, you know, making sure that it’s clear it’s not my fault. Uh, boy, that’s not a way to move forward. So people need to really say, I belong to this team. Anything that happens is.

is the team and praise others and don’t knock them down and blame them for things. Yeah, and I think also in terms of mistakes, in a culture where you are not allowed to make mistakes, you’ll never see any change, any innovation, anything really dramatically happening because people went…

will just kind of do exactly what they said and stay exactly kind of within their boundaries and never do something different. I think there was a quote I recently read was about, if you never make mistakes, you’re not innovative enough. Yeah, right.

And I think that’s true. And I can say it, Avi, and I think it was true when I was at Lilly too, is people were encouraged to take risk. Making mistakes is okay. It’s important to learn from the mistakes. And the risk needs to be a kind of a calculated risk. So you don’t just do crazy things that you haven’t thought through. Of course. But that’s right. I think you’re right. Without that, I mean, when we talk about kind of different industries and companies, the companies that don’t take risk, I mean,

I’ve heard a recent talk where they singled out Blockbuster. Blockbuster for a while was, and I don’t know if this was in Europe or not, but I mean, they were renting out CDs and DVDs and sorry, DVDs and videotapes so people could go and watch movies. They would rent them out. And then Netflix comes along and they start being, they send DVDs through the mail and then all of a sudden there’s live streaming. So Blockbuster went out of business and I think nobody there was willing to say.

let’s take a risk and actually change our whole business model. And, um, and so, yeah, it’s very important to take, uh, calculated risk and, and really even destroy your own, your own business, if you will, if you want to survive.

Let’s go on to topic number three. OK. So here’s one that kind of overlaps, I think, with the first one. I wrote down inspiring others to join the cause without authority. I don’t know what else I can say. I guess other than what I will say, maybe I’ll use the opportunity with this point to say to people that as you start your career,

don’t feel like you have to be able to do all of these well at all. I mean, there’s a period of time in one’s career where they’re learning. And I encourage, I’ve actually, I mentor quite a few people at AVI today and I encourage them to be like a sponge, go, go to webinars, seminars, just learn, not just statistics, but learn the business. And that’s something I don’t actually have as one of my points.

And the inspiring others comes with experience. So as individuals have experiences that they can relate to the current problem or team, that’s where they can now begin to really demonstrate leadership within that team. Yeah, yeah. That was a very good point.

By the way, all these points will be on the homepage that you can find at www. Like always, the show notes will be there. Just check back the homepage to see all these 20 points that we go through. Let’s go to number four. Okay. The fourth one is to share credit.

This is back to a team set where everybody has a different responsibility, different function. And you could think in terms of, let’s say, a submission. So that’s a big deal. Putting together an NDA for a product, lots of different parts to the wheel or the puzzle, if you will. And at the end of the day, it’s a team effort, and a team equally gets credit.

When I wrote this down, that wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. So let me say what I had in mind, but that’s related. So that’s part of it. What I had in mind is there are times where one team member, actually I’ll use a sports analogy here, LeBron James. Probably everybody has heard of him at least. He is leading the Cleveland Cavaliers. He’s obviously the star player. Many will say he’s the best player of all time.

advances. They’re playing my Indiana Pacers, by the way. I’m going to the game tonight, so a little bit of trivia for folks. If Cleveland wins, although Lebron will have scored the most points and really clearly will have made the biggest difference in why Cleveland won the series, but it’s a team effort. One player can’t do it.

He needs the other people around him to play, whether it’s defense, whether they need to score as well. And so related to that, sharing credit, giving credit to others, again, builds that strong relationship and trust. And so if one is a statistician on a team and you’ve got programmers working with you, you’ve got data scientists with you, don’t ever forget to bring them along and share the credit with them.

If it looks like, well, yeah, I know I did a great job and there’s really five people behind you that work their butt off and you ignore them, that hurts the relationship. That will hurt the next time that you’re trying to get them to really bust their butts to help a deadline get met or whatever or to beat a deadline. And so it’s very critical. So one example I’ll share, not with names or anything, but just there are some folks that I have seen in management roles.

that are essentially competing with their own people. And so for managers in particular, when something technical or work gets done, they need to almost have the humility and say, you know, I had minimal impact here. The people that did this work and who deserve the credit are the people in my team. And so sharing credit is really critical, again, in the longterm to develop those close relationships and to be successful going forward.

People who try to take the credit and just kind of say, hey, everyone, look at me, are people that others don’t like. They’re not inspiring others to follow them. And there are many examples of the bad. There’s many examples of the good side of this.

In terms of that, what would be typical good points to share credit? Well I think the best example I have, and we can go deeper in this, the best example I have is where a senior leadership team might be meeting. So let’s just say it’s a meeting of VPs that are just kind of…

feeling great because we just made, well, we just got approval. A company just got approval for a very important drug. And some might say to the head of statistics and programming, you did a fantastic job. Thank you for pulling that through. I think it’s important to, and I see this all the time, to say, hey, you know what, it really wasn’t me. The people that did the work.

were just so dedicated. So just being, just always thinking about sharing credit. I guess in a way, when somebody singles somebody out, they should think hard of whether they shouldn’t say, thank you for recognizing my contributions. But I have to say there were an army of people that really contributed to this and it was a team effort. And it’s because of this great team.

chemistry and dedication to the project, that’s why we succeeded. That kind of a statement goes a million miles. And it’s critical for continuing that strong team bonding and relationship. So you would say that’s actually a very interesting point. I was thinking about kind of occasions where, you know, there’s lots of people around or, you know,

email communication and things like this, but you would also think about these, these, you know, even very small meetings. So maybe even, you know, these one to ones. Even in these settings, that would be very good to kind of, you know, reflect back on that. I think so. I think that it goes into almost any setting or merely all settings. Actually that leads us perfectly into point number five.

Yeah, it does. So these are related. So five is showing humility. And really, it’s interesting. I mean, I didn’t until we started this conversation, it didn’t really dawn on me. All five that we’re talking about have a linkage of the future, of building those strong relationships, being able to inspire others means that one has to have some level of humility. And people

take control of meetings and just make the focus be on them personally are not showing humility and that tends to break those relationships. So I consider this to be a very important one and I can say too, again going back to the kind of folks that I interview and that I try to hire into my company, I look for humility. There are folks that come in and they just feel and act like they know everything.

And it’s interesting that if we were to look at IQ or grades on all the coursework that they took, they may have straight A’s and they may have high IQs, but they’re going to fail as a leader. They’re not going to be able to inspire others to work with them. And so humility is really critical.

The interviewee first speaks with the AA before he went into the interview. And I think how he speaks with the AA can be very, very telling about this old situation and whether he will get the job or not. Yeah, I think that’s an excellent point. And actually I have a fairly recent example where somebody interviewed at ABI. And um…

met very senior people, including myself, and then met a manager of human resources. And that candidate treated that person very disrespectful. And that was a key reason why that individual was not given the job. So you’re right. I mean, people, that’s a really good point, Alexander. People that show humility need to show that respect for people at all levels.

including admin, whatever, whoever. I mean, honestly, that’s a people that don’t have that humility will treat administrative assistants or janitors or other people like that with the lack of dignity and, you know, and that doesn’t go well. Yeah. And there’s just a picture that comes to my mind where there’s President Obama walking through the White House and he greets someone that’s just cleaning the floor.

So that shows everybody participates. You need all the people to run the government. You need to all the people to get a new drug on the market. You need all the people to send a

person to the moon for the NASA, if you think about it. And it’s not just about the senior leaders or the people with the most expertise. You need everybody. And I think that is also, if you share this, shows us humility, it also means that you are actually interested in the people. And I think that goes a long way.

Yeah, good point. I completely agree with you. Let’s go to number six because that is also about kind of this building a relationship.

It is, and a little different than the others, but number six is to be trustworthy and develop trust in others. One thing that’s unique to this one, I think, is at least what I was thinking as I wrote it. If you’re, let’s just say now it’s a statistician and a physician and they have certain work they need to do, a certain analysis, and we’ll even say it’s an exploratory analysis. So they’ve done the routine stuff on the study.

that is just locked and they see something that’s important to look at. If between the two of them, they decide, we’re going to do these three analyses and the statistician says, yeah, I agree with you, I’ll do these. It doesn’t have to be a deadline kind of thing, but let’s just say they say, I can get this done by Friday. And Friday comes along and there’s nothing, no word, not even an email from the

or a phone call from the statistician saying, I’ve run into some issues, it’s going to take me longer. That’s not being trustworthy. So, and it’s not just deadlines, but that’s one example of it. Other things are, I mean, it could be almost anything. It could be, this just came to me. It could be a one-on-one where…

a mentor-mentee kind of relationship or even just two people trying to get to know each other and they’re trusting, they’re opening up. They’re saying, you know what, I had this bad thing happen to me years ago and it’s affected my personality or whatever and it’s meant to be in confidence and next thing you know, you find out that other person has kind of shared this with other people. I mean, any of those sorts of things, if you break

someone’s trust, it takes years, if not never, to regain that trust. And I think we’ve all encountered people like that, that you just realize you can’t trust that person. Another example, which really we have kind of touched on already, is where let’s say a manager and a statistician working on a project together and the statistician works with them.

all weekend and evening and gets rid, does a really great job and shares it with the manager and then the manager goes off and never even mentions that person. So this is giving credit too, but not in this example, not giving credit, goes off and starts sharing it with senior management and it looks like, wow, this manager did a great job. Let’s promote that person or whatever. That’s breaking trust. Where

now the statistician or the subordinate will not feel they can trust their own manager. Unfortunately, I think there’s a lot of cases where they don’t feel they can trust their manager. I could go on. I’ll go one more example, and that is I may have this later, but I’ll mention it now. For an effective manager, for a manager to be effective, to highly effective, they need to develop trust.

both in their people but have their people be able to trust them. So their statistician may come to them and say, I’m sorry to say this, I don’t know anything about survival analysis and I need help. And what you don’t want to have happen, and unfortunately I’ve seen this happen in the past, is at the end of the year comes time for review and the manager says, you know, you’re not that smart. I mean, you didn’t know anything about you had to ask me, you had to ask other people.

breaks the trust 100%. So that person will never seek out the manager for advice. And I forget if I have this later, but I’ll mention one famous, for me anyway, it really stuck with me, is I read a book on leadership on Colin Powell, who was the, what do you call it, defense, chief defense person in the White House years ago. And he was also a general in the military.

He has in that book he lays out I think it’s 14 different leadership traits The one that always stuck with me is if your people Fear coming to you with their problems and no longer come to you with your problems Then you have failed as a leader and that resonates with me a lot, too So I think people so now I’m more talking about manager versus subordinate Managers need to be able to encourage their people to come to them with their problems to help them

help them succeed, set them up for success, and not later come back and say, well, you’re weak on this, you’re weak on that, and so therefore your rating is poor. It’s hard, I think, and it’s something that more people really need to think about.

Right. If your medical writer comes to you and say, can you explain to me how that exactly kind of works and how I best kind of write it up? And you are pushing them away kind of how stupid I use, you know, things like that. Or if, if you know, your programmer comes to you and says,

I’ve read this piece here in the SAP and I can’t make any sense of it. I have no clue how to implement that. I have never done, used this technique. I don’t even know which kind of, you know, programming code to use. You need to be really helpful there instead of kind of, you know, calling them out or, you know, then.

going directly as thereafter to their manager and saying, I want another programmer because that’s, you know, he comes to me with stupid questions. By the way, I think that is also a very, very important point and being trustworthy is to, it’s a feedback loop. So if you, if there’s a problem.

Or if you have a problem with another person, first speak with that person and not turn off go directly to the other manager because that doesn’t build a lot of trust. Absolutely. That’s a really good point, Alexander. And that takes some courage too, which means the person needs to be able to speak with that individual with integrity and sincerity and not just, you know, yell at them or whatever.

but yeah, you should talk to the individual first. And boy, when it works, it’s such a great story. I’ve seen it happen where a statistician who I mentored years ago had great difficulty with one particular physician where the physician was basically demeaning in a big meeting of 20 people or something. And she ended up going to that physician. They had a nice talk and the physician fortunately understood.

And then they became friends. And there are, you know, stories like that where two people fight physically or whatever. And next thing you know, they’re best friends. And that is important that you don’t go to the senior or the manager and have them try to fix it. At least not as a first step. Yeah. Okay. We already

in the time here, but it’s really, really lots of very, very valuable points that we are touching. So, let’s really keep it going because there’s so much gold coming here that I think is really, really inspiring itself. Let’s go on to inspiration number seven. Okay.

So seven is engaging everyone on the team, making them feel valued and important. We touched on this a little bit earlier, but this is maybe more for whoever’s leading that team, although maybe I should make a comment about that. So picture yourself in a team setting, multi-disciplinary, you’re the statistician. There is always a chair, there is always somebody who is responsible for the meeting.

But it’s worth me noting that it’s important that everybody consider themselves a leader in the sense that if the discussion goes off topic, everyone has the, I don’t know, the ability to say, you know what group we’re going off topic, let’s get back on target. And I have people that I’ve seen do this and they’re fabulous and they’re valuable. And I’ve had people do it to me when I’m the chair.

and things are going, either we’re going into too much detail, we really should take it offline. Somebody in that room will say, we really should get back to the agenda, take this offline. So I’ll mention that as part of this one. But as far as making everyone feel valued, you know, there are, I’m sure everyone’s been in team settings where there might, let’s just say there’s 20 people in the room and only three of them are really talking and everyone else is listening.

This is a little, there’s a little bit delicate here in that somebody who’s introverted and shy and maybe new, so they’re really just learning, you don’t want to put them on the spot by saying, well, what do you think we should do? But on the other hand, you as a leader, and it could be anyone in the room might say, you know, there’s only three of us talking about this. Let’s hear from some of the others. I mean, just saying that.

opens the door to where others can feel like, oh, OK, they would like to hear my opinion. Doesn’t mean the team is going to ultimately follow that viewpoint. But nonetheless, it’s important to hear all different perspectives. And then as a team, the best decision can come out. And so part of it is that. The other part of it is just in a team setting, talking about how everybody, everyone in that room has contributed.

to the success of this project. And the analogy I can draw there, I have four daughters and I guess three of them in particular played soccer when they were young. And I can remember at the end of every season, the coaches would say some things. And there was one particular coach who singled out every one of the players on that team and had something great to say. You know, Laura, you’re a fantastic defender. You…

black shots, you’ve saved some goals from being scored, great job. And then the next person, Mindy, you, you, you, you’re amazing how you can dribble the soccer ball and, and fake out the goaltender and score goals. And that, that is to me a great example. And that, but this is one where I’m kind of weak on, I think is, is being able to say something great about every single person on that team, and that can even include the administrative assistance, like without you, we would be burdened.

we wouldn’t be as organized and so on. So that’s what I would say is part of this, is engaging everyone on the team, but also helping every single one of them feel valued and important. I think in terms of the meeting setting you just talked about, these introverts, sometimes it’s really good to…

If you know that these are introverts, to speak to them beforehand to make it more safer for them to speak up and kind of that way makes them more engaged. I think there’s also some other techniques that you can actually do so that, for example, when there’s brainstorming.

You know, there’s very often kind of the extroverts, they say, rule the room. But you could do a brainstorming, for example, where first everybody writes down their notes and then everybody shares them. And that way, you know, everybody is engaged and everybody contributes. And not only just the, you know, those that always say something first. And then, yeah. Right. Yeah. Right. That’s a great point.

And I’ll also mention another strategy is to give, and many times the statisticians are quiet. Some of it’s culture, some of it’s just, you know, the selection of folks that go into statistics. Teams, when they give those folks an opportunity to give a short presentation, or it might be addressing one or two slides in a multi-slide presentation.

That helps bring out introverts. And actually, that has helped me. I’ve even said this to somebody recently that in that kind of a setting where I really get comfortable is if I’m asked to give a short talk. So it might be on why we have to adjust for multiplicity or whatever in layman type terms, not in a statistical jargon kind of presentation. But having introverts do that. And some folks, when they’re extremely introverted,

challenge, but that’s how you grow. That’s really by doing that, giving these little presentations, people will get better and better at it. And that helps people feel more comfortable speaking up in a team setting. And I know I cover some of that a little bit later, but yeah, I’ll leave it at that. Yeah. So on the flip side of it is also you should engage everybody, but also you should be engaged.

I think that’s the flip side of the coin. In terms of that, kind of related is also topic number eight, actually. Isn’t it? Okay. Yeah. So, A, I have remain calm, be kind to everyone. I think it’s related in the sense that if somebody in the room kind of gets angry and just says very dogmatically…

it has to be this way, it shuts everyone else off. And especially if that’s the senior manager. So I actually went out on a limb not too long ago giving advice, this is after a couple glasses of wine, giving advice to my boss’s boss and just saying, suggesting to him to not, the way I put it is don’t play your cards right up front. If you want other people to give their honest opinions.

do that first, then you state your opinion. So if a senior leader or the chair of the meeting comes out and says, I think this is the direction we need to go, what do the rest of you think? So many, even those that are extroverted might say, okay, I agree. That’s a great idea. And here’s why I agree. So remaining calm and being kind is part of it.

What I’m saying now is maybe a different dimension that’s just saying, especially when you’re the chair or a senior leader, listen and help others speak their mind and then you can state what you think should be done and have some discussion about it. But remaining calm, just anytime you have a team setting where somebody is expressing

team down. And it’s not the right place certainly to demean somebody or criticize somebody. You take that offline. I mean, sometimes that has to happen. You give some feedback and say that was not really what we needed from you or whatever. I mean, there’s nothing bad about giving feedback that can be make someone feel bad, but you don’t do it in the team setting. And my analogy to sports is I’ve seen…

coaches and I don’t like these kinds of coaches that I’m thinking of now, uh, college basketball where a player makes a mistake. Maybe they turn the ball over and the coach brings them over and basically is shouting at them saying that was really bad. That was stupid. And, and they’re on national television, you know, so I mean, everyone sees it. And that player, I think most people would not react as well as if it was all supportive during the game. But then later,

talk to the individual and say, watch that because that you can do better than that. You know what I mean? So it’s lightly related to this topic. I think when I read this Remain Calm, I also said about controlling your own emotions and being aware about your own emotions. Because, you know, with this coach that you just talked about, you know.

Of course he’s frustrated about the mistake of the player, but if he can’t control his emotions and he gets very angry about it and shouts at people, that means he can’t be inspiring anymore at that point. I think all the other players will think…

Oh, if that happens, if you make a mistake, Then it’s going to be me next. Yeah. Right. Yeah. Right. Exactly. And it is interesting. You know, I think you see sometimes clips of in the locker room at halftime or whatever, the coach will kind of be shouting and screaming. And he’s trying to inspire people and he’s not singling out. I think he’s just saying we as a team, we need to really do better on defense. The team scored 60 points in the first half.

And these are the things we need to focus on to improve our defense as a team. That’s different than singling one person out. Cause you’re right. If, if that happens and others see it, it’s like, now I gotta, I can’t take risk. I gotta be very careful. I don’t want to make a mistake and they’re not going to win.

Yeah. And I think in terms of this kind of, you know, it’s not about you still can show emotions. And that’s completely fine. I think it’s just that you’re in control of your emotions, and not the emotions control you. And then I think you can use these emotions to actually be inspiring. You know, like, you know, you can be really angry and you can, you know, show it also.

in that way that, you know, but as you say, in this we talk, you know, and that way you leverage your emotions to actually, you know, create a sense of team effort and, you know, we get out of this together. Yeah, right. And instead of kind of yelling at people. Yeah, yeah. And I think it’s, especially in kind of our virtual setting.

I have seen that multiple times where, you know, there’s an email coming and you feel really angry about it or you see that someone else felt angry about it and then there’s a reply and that gets escalated. So I think that is, I think with, if you can’t even see the other part, you know, if you don’t see the face of the other person.

that is especially kind of difficult. Also a reason why I think you should always turn on your camera because that helps to kind of see also the intention of the other person and can help to speak about emotions in a completely different way. Yeah, and for the listeners, that’s what Alexander and I are doing. We have facetime, so we see each other’s faces. No, actually that may…

brings me to a really important point, I think. And I think being introverted makes this more difficult for some people. I really encourage people, when you can, to go to meetings in person. Too often, I mean, the worst, most egregious, with violation of this principle, is somebody, their office is in the same.

floor and building as where the meeting is, yet they dial in and there’s no face. It’s just on the phone. So they’re just listening in and, and really for a team to gel, you go there in person as much as you can, and if it means traveling a mile or whatever, do it. I really encourage people to show your face, be there in person. And if you’re on the phone as much as you can.

Use a webcam so people in the room can see your face and you can even raise your hand and say, hey, wait, I have a comment to make or whatever. And it really makes things go much better.

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And it helps to remain calm. If you see the other persons, it’s because it’s not just an email address, there’s another person on the other line. Yeah.

Okay, let’s move on to point number nine now. Okay, so nine is providing opportunities for others to shine. Very related to some of the others giving credit to others. But but this is more I would say, if somebody is responsible for a team, whether it’s a manager with a team of statisticians, giving others opportunities.

to both grow, so they’re being challenged, they’re being given responsibility for something maybe they haven’t done before. And you can help coach them and give them advice, and that’s where it’s so important that they feel comfortable coming to the person or the manager or whoever to ask questions, get clarification, you want to encourage that. And then it’s a success for them, they get credit for it.

they shine, others see that they did a great job. That does a number of things. One, it strengthens the relationship between them, makes for greater outcomes down the road, and it helps develop future leaders. I mean, for any organization, I feel like this is true no matter how small the organization, all of us benefit if we help younger and others grow.

in what they’re able to do and so on. So giving them opportunities means that we’re helping develop the future leaders. And I’ll share this story. I mean, I actually said this recently to my current boss is that my goal is to have the people in my organization be able to do their jobs well without me.

My goal, and it won’t happen this way, but my goal is that I would retire and no one would even know it. They’d say, well, I guess he’s on vacation. I will just keep going. We know what we need to do. And that, I think, should be the goal of every leader. Every leader should feel, every manager, but even everyone should kind of feel like if I can develop the person that’s working with me, then that gives me the opportunity for the next challenge. So it’s not just for senior leaders. It’s for others that might.

even individual contributors that might be asked to mentor or coach a brand new employee, if that person brings that person up, then they can take over their role and that statistician, let’s say, can take a higher responsibility. So there’s personal or selfish kinds of reasons to help bring others forward and help them give them projects where they can shine and feel ownership, and that’s good for everyone.

Yeah, I think it’s but it’s also in Canada in not from all only from a supervisor to employee relationship. It’s also peer to peer relationships. So so just as an example,

When I worked with a physician and we prepared an advisory board, he said, I could show these slides, but I think you are in a much better position to show them. So we did the presentation together. And at that time, it was not very frequent that statisticians at this organization would be invited to do that. And

It went really smoothly. It helped, I think, and he got also a lot of credit for it because he was responsible for the advisory board and the advisors afterwards said, it was really great to have a statistician explaining these kind of things because we could ask completely different questions and there was no silence about it. And so that helps also others to shine.

is not only in this situation, it’s in many other situations as well, I think. Yeah, I completely agree with you. And you can take that same story and say where the statistician is the primary presenter at maybe a project team meeting, having some more junior statisticians play a part in that presentation does the same thing. It helps them feel more a part of the success of the team and helps them shine as well.

Yes. Okay, for today, let’s go to number 10 now. All right. So number 10, I have putting the organization, colleagues and the company ahead of personal goals. What I think is important, I think everyone would agree with this, what is important for an organization, and I’ll just say for a company to be successful, is if everyone is aligned in helping that company succeed and

In our industry, we’re trying to develop treatments that help patients in need to improve human health. And so a great motivation factor, some of our treatments treat sick children. Others help. If we can cure Alzheimer’s, how amazing would that be? So really, even for somebody who feels like,

They, early in their career, they feel like my aspiration is to be the head of, you know, the VP of statistics, let’s say. Even for those individuals, the way to get there is to keep, always keep in mind the success of the company, your specific organization, and the people around you. The people who go out and basically, you know, run over others that get in the way or whatever,

companies, they may succeed, especially those that go from company to company, I think. But I don’t think it’s fulfilling. I don’t think that company will do as well as one where an individual is able to show the leadership skills by doing this, by really everything that we’ve been talking about and putting their colleagues and others really ahead of themselves.

where that physician got a lot of credit for involving the statistician, having the statistician present on what they’re really expert at. And it’s a good example of where it’s a win all the way around. Everyone wins, including the person who gave up a piece of the floor tile.

and the goals of the company don’t match. That’s usually a bad situation. Because then there’s a win-lose situation and you don’t wanna end up in this area. I think you should always strive to align the different goals so that everybody works in the same direction.

Well, you know, and we have so many opportunities for that. You know, all the companies have performance procedures, you know, annual reviews, objectives and what have you. Just said, I think very often these are not taken seriously and they are not connected to the personal development.

I remember once that my supervisor started with a yearly development or yearly performance cycle with talking, let’s first talk about your development goals. That’s weird. And my supervisor said, yeah, I also thought first that’s weird, but my supervisor did the same with me. And it actually was very, very important because

That way you can actually see, okay, what am I really interested in for my personal growth and how can we match that with the company objectives? And then you’re double motivated to actually achieve these. And so I think it’s really, really important to create these win-win situations and avoid these win-lose situations. Yeah.

I completely agree. But I will say that I think there are pockets or there are individuals who don’t have that philosophy and it can break down if a senior leader is only looking out for themselves. They don’t really care about their people as much as they do their own next promotion kind of thing. And my point, I guess, is I don’t think that leads to

the kind of success where not only do they get to a high level, but also the whole organization is performing at a great level. I don’t know if that makes sense. Yeah, I think it’s kind of not playing for the short term success, it’s playing for the long game. That’s right.

Great. We have gotten through 10 really, really amazing things. And sorry, it took us a little bit longer than expected. There were so many really nice stories in it that I think we just go for it. And this episode is today a little bit longer than usual. But I think you got so much out of it, that it’s really, really helpful. So…

Thanks a lot, Walt. You’re welcome. And stay tuned for next week’s episode. Great. Thank you. This show was created in association with PSI. Thanks for listening. Please visit thee to find the show notes and learn more about our podcast, Boost Your Career as a Statistician in the Health Sector. If you enjoyed the show, please tell your colleagues about it.

And this episode was just part one. So stay tuned for next week’s episode, part two, where there will be much more gold about leadership from with Walter Often.

Join The Effective Statistician LinkedIn group

I want to help the community of statisticians, data scientists, programmers and other quantitative scientists to be more influential, innovative, and effective. I believe that as a community we can help our research, our regulatory and payer systems, and ultimately physicians and patients take better decisions based on better evidence.

I work to achieve a future in which everyone can access the right evidence in the right format at the right time to make sound decisions.

When my kids are sick, I want to have good evidence to discuss with the physician about the different therapy choices.

When my mother is sick, I want her to understand the evidence and being able to understand it.

When I get sick, I want to find evidence that I can trust and that helps me to have meaningful discussions with my healthcare professionals.

I want to live in a world, where the media reports correctly about medical evidence and in which society distinguishes between fake evidence and real evidence.

Let’s work together to achieve this.