Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tip 12: Hey Scooby... turn-off the leadership mystery machine

Hey Scooby... turn-off the leadership mystery machine

homework eating catEven with millions of pages and thousands of books written on the topic, leadership continues to evoke mystery. But why all the mystery and what makes achieving a consensus over its definition so challenging? Gurus on the subject try and offer leadership diverse secrets and complicated formulas for how to be a good leader. But if there was a secret sauce, I think I would have found it by now. Allow me to show some vulnerability for a moment concerning a valuable leadership lesson I've learned over the years. Although I just finished writing a book that happens to relate to the subject of healthcare leadership, early in my career, like most physicians, I perceived leadership to be the primary responsibility of administrators. A management thing that suits attended to when I was caring for sick patients. I didn't have the time nor the interest in seeking out the true meaning of the word and the subtle yet important differences. Most importantly, then and now, most physicians don't realize that leadership directly relates to improving patient care. It didn't hit me until later in my career that learning how to treat a Myocardial Infarction was no more important that learning how to inspire trust in my team. Fouling up either of these can cause significant harm to a patient. The age old principle of "First, do no harm" has just as much relevance in leadership as it does medicine. Edgar H. Shein might have said it best in his book Organizational Culture and Leadership,  "Much of what is mysterious about leadership becomes clearer if we separate leadership from management and link leadership specifically to creating and changing [organizational] culture...the unique and essential function of leadership is the manipulation of culture. Leaders work on the culture of the organization, creating it or changing it.  Managers work within the culture of the organization."Every medical school could use a dose of Edgar!

So why is it necessary to expand our conversation into this poorly defined area we call leadership? Up to this point, much of our discussion in Coach+Leader focused on how defining our role can change a culture. Past issues helped us distinguish between our unique jobs and the patient centered role we must all be accountable to in order to achieve improved care. It's critical that we know our role and even more important that leaders and doctors have the ability to help guide/coach us in that role. In short, if we're going to experience a sustainable culture change, leaders must inspire trust. This is ever so important in the ultimate team sport we call healthcare. It's no secret that healthcare leaders face some pretty unique challenges, and with those challenges comes an opportunity to rethink our approach to how we practice leadership. While I alone can't teach you all there is to know about leadership, we can certainly provide a much more practical, user-friendly definition and approach, so that we're all on the same page. If we as an industry do a better job identifying it, more and more leaders will have the confidence to share it with others... and have a greater impact on patient care.

Tip 12: How much time do you have to lead?

What do a hundred hospital CEO's have to say about leadership... their answers might surprise you? In my quest to demystify leadership, I've spent the last few years compiling responses on leadership questions from CEO's whom I've had the pleasure of working with at executive retreats, workshops and in my coaching practice. While I've asked many leadership and management related questions, and gathered some awesome wisdom, one question seems to generate the most eye-opening responses. And I'll pose it to you: How much of your day do you spend managing? That is putting out fires, organizing, performing daily tasks and solving other peoples problems? While there are always a few outliers, a large majority of CEO's reported that on average, 85% of their day could be categorized as management related activity. While that may not surprise the average busy healthcare professional, the follow-up Q and A might.

Keeping the number 85% in mind. How much time does that give you to lead? For most of us, especially CEO's, the numbers don't sound right. For one reason or another, we expect to offer a different response. Some of us thought we had a more organized leadership approach, or a better defined idea for what leadership is and does in the first place. This is about the time when a leadership consultant comes in and says, "We're going to turn those numbers around people!" Wrong. I'd suggest they haven't spent much time in healthcare. The question we should be asking is not how we are going to reverse those numbers, but how to make the most of the limited time we have throughout the day to lead. Let's get that 15% right! So how much time you have to lead each day? Email me or share your thoughts on our Facebook page.



January 7, 2013 Bozeman, Montana

Brian WongSecond River Healthcare Press is pleased to announce their collaboration with Dr. Brian Wong of the Bedside Trust to publish his first full-length book,Heroes Need Not Apply: How one physician coach transformed a hospital's culture. His soon to be released book puts you in the center of the conflict every hospital struggles with, and a small group of dedicated leaders who resist the status quo to change it... to give patients what they need most.

After a decade consulting with hospitals nationwide, Dr. Brian Wong leverages his experiences to bring us the story of Jack Martin MD, a physician coach from a Montana Hospital & clinic who transformed the culture in one of Seattle's largest hospitals. Join Jack, CEO Jane Carolli, and their medical staff to discover how building patient trust led to improving care throughout the entire organization.

About Second River Healthcare Press: An award winning publishing company committed to providing educational, instructional and motivational books that address the areas of healthcare that are important to you.

For more information please contact:

For media inquiries: Please contact Jonathan Long - Managing Director, Bedside Trust 206.619.8088Bedside Trust, LLC 8838 Paisley Drive NE Seattle, WA  98115.,

For speaking inquiries: Please contact Sierra Weese, Director Innovative Healthcare Speakers Bureau. 406.586.8775 Phone 406.586.5672 fax - 26 Shawnee Way, Suite C Bozeman, Montana 59715

Visit the Patient Driven Leadership Site.
Brian Wong, M.D.The Coach Leader is a bi-monthly series of ready-to-use tips to assist you in developing a concrete leadership practice that has the most impact on improving patient care.  Why become a Coach Leader?

  1. Patients expect us to work as teams.
  2. Patient centered teams need a coach.
  3. Every leader has a coaching role.
It's a straightforward point of view that focuses on best utilizing your time as a leader by emphasizing your role as a coach. As a Coach Leader, you'll gain the ability to mobilize your people into patient centered problem solving teams and have the most impact on improving care.

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