Guest Column | July 6, 2017

How To Create A Spirit Of Independence Among Your Team

By Liz Bywater, Ph.D.


Welcome to the premier edition of Dr. Liz on Leadership! In my new, monthly Life Science Leader column, I will bring you practical tools and advice to help you, your team, and your organization thrive in today’s rapidly changing healthcare environment.

Last week, millions of Americans took the day off, stepping away from the pace and pressure of work, to celebrate the country’s 241st Independence Day. Amid fireworks and barbecues, I paused to reflect on the core values we still cherish: freedom, justice, and the pursuit of happiness. And as workers in America and across the globe are working more and relaxing less, the ability to make independent decisions and act with autonomy in the workplace holds more value than ever.

In my work with executives and teams, I’ve seen it time and again. Organizations succeed when their employees have the freedom to make independent decisions, act on sound professional judgment, share creative new ideas, and take prudent risks in the pursuit of progress. Of course, the best leaders do this intuitively. But under pressure to make rapid decisions and take too active a role in getting things done, even the best leaders can micromanage.

There are many ways to foster a spirit of independence among your team. Here are three to get you started.

Make sure you’ve got the right team. By attracting and hiring the best talent and placing people in roles that fully leverage their strengths, you lay the foundation of a high performing team. The more you can rely on your team to get the work done and make well-informed decisions without undue oversight, the better you can attend to matters of strategy, pipeline development, and the creation of valuable new partnerships.

Convey a clear vision. This point won’t be front page news to any seasoned leader. Still, it’s not unusual for the long-term view to become obscured under pressure to achieve short-term gains. Don’t hesitate to sound repetitive. All decisions and actions should be aligned with the big picture. Share the vision consistently and ensure your team is fully on board.

Create room for mistakes. If your employees fear repercussion, they will refrain from taking the kind of risks that are required for growth. To unleash creativity in your organization, invite your employees to venture into new terrain, try new methods, and risk failure as they drive innovation and develop remarkable solutions to long-standing challenges.

Strong leaders know — an autonomous team is a tremendous asset. By hiring well and empowering your leaders and staff to be independent thinkers, you accelerate results, drive innovation, increase loyalty and attract top talent. Above all, you position yourself and your organization to prosper amid the challenges and opportunities of today’s dynamic and demanding healthcare environment.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Dr. Liz on Leadership. Each month, I will share new ideas, tools and advice to help you thrive in today’s ever-changing healthcare environment. Let me know what’s top of mind and I’ll answer your most pressing questions in future columns. Contact me at

For additional tools and thought leadership, check out my all-new website, And don’t forget to pick up your copy of Slow Down to Speed Up: Lead, Succeed, and Thrive in a 24/7 World!