Leadership: Your Duty

Think back to a moment when you shined as a leader. A time that you just excelled.

An instance that you reflect back on and think with a faint smile and a slight puff of the chest, “I helped to make that possible.”

Got that moment in your head? Good.

275949054_cb82634ec6_zChances are very good that time that you just thought of came about because of a challenge.

Perhaps it was a point in time when you were brave, took a step forward and decided to transform the existing state of affairs. You knew things could be better and nothing was going to stop you from realizing that vision.

Or perhaps your best leadership moment came about because of external forces. The circumstances around you changed and you were forced into reacting to them. You were responding to a natural disaster or a change in regulation (a disaster of its own kind).

I’m guessing your chest puffing moment didn’t involve looking around your organization and thinking, “Things are going well. I don’t think I’ll change a thing.”

It’s a leader’s job in any field to support and guide. As a leader in healthcare, people’s physical and emotional lives are in your hands.

Can you imagine anything more significant than that?

A healthcare leader’s calling

Not only do you have to support and guide. You have to do better.

For any leader, it’s their task. As a leader in healthcare it is your duty.

Every challenge, every chest-puffing moment, involves confronting the unknown and taking a stand. If you are to move from “good to great” you must venture out.

While it seems so obvious, I think we sometime forget: doing things the way you’ve always done them will achieve exactly what you have right now. You get what you got.

You must push your team to fight the mindset of, “If it ain’t broke why fit it?”

One daring decision at a time and with each spirited action. Those decisions and actions will pile on top of each other and become a passion for constant upgrading.

How do you start a shift in the status quo?

  1. Examine the possibilities. I often call this “awakening”. It’s not problem solving. It’s not jumping to create solutions. It’s becoming aware of what not only needs to change, but what should change. So often in healthcare we wait for a new regulation to drive change. Why?! I often found my biggest awakening moments happened when I was touring others around my home. All of a sudden I would see all these things around me that weren’t necessarily wrong…but definitely weren’t right! What could be better in your organization? What are other industries doing that you can learn from?
  1. Determine the result you are seeking. You’ve looked at the possibilities. Now it’s time to determine an outcome. You are capable, so challenge yourself. Honor your team by pushing them with a goal that will inspire. Let them know that you believe in them, that you know that they are able, and that good well…just isn’t good enough. If your goal isn’t scary and doesn’t seem just a wee bit impossible in the beginning, you probably aren’t demanding enough of yourself or others.
  1. Create a strategy and craft an action plan. There will be lots of ways to get to the same goal. Pick the way that will not only produce results, but does so in a way that respects the resources you have. Be optimistically realistic! Don’t let barriers be an excuse.* Once you craft a strategy, establish an action plan with your team with targets, indicators and due dates. Ideas are nice, but aren’t worth much if you don’t act on them.

*Side note: How you can contribute to fighting those barriers? When’s the last time you, your team or your patients/residents wrote to Congress about reimbursement? When’s the last time you provided written feedback regarding regulations? That’s part of your duty as a leader too!

Your Obligations

You have an obligation to the patients and residents you serve. To see the possibilities that exist outside of the present circumstances. To challenge the status quo.

You have an obligation to your staff. They need to know the outcome you are after and to be enticed to reach it. They also need the tools and support to get there.

You have an obligation to yourself. Leadership is never easy. Being a leader in healthcare is even harder.

Your residents are worthy of better. Your staff deserves to be proud of accomplishing a lofty goal. And YOU ought to have more opportunities to puff up your chest and think, “I made that possible.”