Uncertainty and change are now a constant, while technology innovation continues to speed up.
In this environment leaders need to accept new realities, breaking with some of the structures that once brought great success.
Stakeholders, particularly employees will seek authenticity and purpose from those leading them.
And cross-sector collaboration will create cohesion in an increasingly complex health technology landscape.
Meeting these demands relies on the skillsets of those in leadership positions.
Below we explain why having intellectual curiosity, being motivational, and collaborative are the top three health tech leadership skills this year.
Generally speaking, leaders have never liked being in a situation where they don’t understand something.
But with the world changing at an unprecedented rate, new technologies disrupting industries year on year, and Black Swan events occurring every six months, leaders can no longer ignore what they don’t know.
This means admitting when they don’t have the answer, but having the intellectual curiosity to want to find out.
It demands a degree of humility as well as the courage to challenge currently comfortable ways of thinking.
In a world that looks different every six months, questioning commonly held assumptions about ways of working and achieving strategic goals is invaluable.
Intellectual curiosity also predisposes a leader to greater risk taking; the courage to embrace what they don’t know invariably involves taking a risk.
A skill that has always been part of the CEO’s arsenal, the level of risk leaders now need to take when making decisions has increased.
This stems from the pace of industry disruption and innovation – leaders who simply enjoy the business models of today risk falling behind and being blind-sided by competitors.
For those in health tech, the challenge is harder.
Regulation, costly up-front investment in R&D, and often a longer time to market for products means the dangers of taking risks are greater.
The best health tech leaders we see are curious and courageous, but have the wherewithal to prioritise and balance new opportunities, not simply going hell for leather on innovation curves.
Health tech and healthcare more broadly are unique in that they attract people who are mission-driven.
People who work in the sector do so for a clear reason; either to create better outcomes for patients or to develop technology which can change lives.
Great health tech leaders are able to harness this sense of mission and nurture that drive to build competitive organisations, products, and services.
They themselves are purpose-led and make improving patient care the primary goal rather than simply creating new technology.
Most health-tech leaders who are highly motivational tend to align the organisational goals with a clear sense of purpose, and foster a culture that supports and encourages employee engagement.
They are often high in affiliation and altruism, acting as a guide for employees rather than adopting a command-and-control style of leadership.
Importantly, motivating employees by aligning their work with the company’s sense of purpose can help attract and retain top talent, as well as attract customers who are looking for mission-driven healthcare solutions.
Overall, tapping into employee sense of purpose can be a powerful driver of success in the health tech sector and leads to companies that are both competitive and have a positive impact on the world.
The health tech sector’s relationship with public healthcare is only becoming deeper.
Public health bodies increasingly rely on technology investment, not only to provide better patient care, but to alleviate pressure on services.
In the UK alone, public health spending on health tech is expected to grow by 6 per cent annually over the next two years.
In addition, many public health systems are now also investing in, and working with, health tech companies on emerging technologies such as gene editing, gene therapies, personalised medicine and regenerative medicine.
Sector leaders need to be adept at crossing boundaries, breaking down siloes, and embedding themselves in partner bodies.
Working with public health organisations and other key stakeholders, health tech leaders can ensure their products and services align with the needs and priorities of the healthcare system.
This leads to more effective use of resources, as well as greater adoption and impact of the technology.
All of this now occurs in an increasingly regulated environment with complex ethical considerations.
Health tech leaders must be able to collaborate effectively with experts to ensure their products and services comply with all relevant laws and regulations.
Where great health tech leaders come into their own is an understanding of how far they can push innovation while meeting legal requirements – underpinning this is the ability to collaborate.