Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tip 13: Leadership advice 5¢... The doctor is in

Leadership advice 5¢... The doctor is in

homework eating catYou and I both know philosophical leadership advice is everywhere. So let's focus on applying road-tested leadership insights and tools that lead to developing a solid leadership infrastructure for you and your team. Baseball legend, Yogi Berra, said that leading is easy... the hard part is getting people to follow. Yogi would also agree that the challenge with getting people to follow the leader is inextricably linked with accountability. Whether you require:

  • teams of nurses to work better together,
  • doctors to communicate with patients more effectively,
  • improved engagement from your staff
  • your team to follow the vision you've set...

No matter the issue, it all comes down to leaders providing context for the mission. If great leaders have one thing in common, it's the ability to provide context in the most difficult situations.

Getting people to follow is less of a challenge when leaders establish a shared purpose, convey the desired outcome and help the team envision the ultimate goal. Getting people to follow a shared purpose is especially important in the high stress world of healthcare. In medical school, there is a saying, "If it's important you'll hear it again". In a previous issue we determined that our struggle with accountability, or as Yogi say's, "Getting people to follow," isn't because healthcare is riddled with lazy people, but about the simple missteps in how leaders approach accountability with carrots and sticks.

Let's be clear, it's not that we're not accountable to our jobs and don't know how to perform our duties... the real challenge comes from not understanding the context - the desired outcome, how to act on it and how to become accountable to it. Great leaders I work with each day create contextual value for their team by aligning their teams' role descriptions with patient's needs. They help their team view the world through the lens of the patient. Patients require us to work as one team no matter your job... and this is what begins to establish context. These leaders challenge their team to consider the role they must play in order to contribute to patient trust regardless of our daily challenges.  One CEO wrote to me recently saying that his organization's mantra is "one team one fight". These are the simple communications that set invaluable context. When healthcare leaders help their teams and organizations establish a shared purpose and set the context, it results in what we call a Patient Accountable Culture. Establishing context begins with understanding our chief objective as leaders and aligning how we practice what matters most to patients.

Tip 13: Establish context and value.

As you may recall, I asked a 100 hospital CEO's and you "How much time do you have to lead?"

It's safe to conclude that you're not alone when we say that most of us in leadership don't have or make adequate time to lead people... we spend too much of our time managing. While I realize the act of leading is quite dynamic and a bit difficult to isolate from the many managerial duties that fall on our plate, it provides us valuable context as we begin to identify how best to contribute as leaders. Take a moment to determine which leadership competencies have the most impact on improving patient care. I asked these same CEO's to compile a list of leadership competencies they believed to be most important, but hard to accomplish day-to-day? Here are some of their candid responses:
  • "Help my organization and staff deal more effectively with change"
  • "Build trust and motivate my team"
  • "Focus on people"
  • "Help develop people"
  • "Setting the direction"
  • "Align people better"
  • "Help people become more self-directed and proactive"
  • "Create a culture of action"
We now know why Yogi says getting people to follow is so hard. These responses sound a bit intangible, yet they're critically important. With their collective wisdom, these CEOs identified the most important competencies a leader must acquire. Each has a significant impact on moving people and inspiring patient trust. Knowing what really counts can provide leaders context for setting the course for how to lead.  In our view, we overly focus on the individual characteristics of leadership and focus too little on the situational context. The focus on context leads to shaping your leadership strategy on what matters most to patients, and having an informed team. When you take the time to improve context through role descriptions, you will improve "followership" and alignment, without adding more work to your already full plates.

Email me or share your thoughts on our Facebook page.


Second 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 to build a patient accountable culture without putting more on your plate.

Brian Wong
Everyone in healthcare knows that the lack of accountability negatively impacts care, and when accountability improves throughout your organization, care improves. What healthcare leaders don't know, is how to improve accountability and why it is so critically linked to improving patient care.

"Heroes Need Not Apply" not only eliminates the accountability dilemma, it provides the tools and approach healthcare leaders, physicians and nurses need to most impact patient care. And it does so without adding more initiatives or any extra work to their already full plates.

Based on true experiences during his twenty years of consulting with healthcare executives, Dr. Wong's Angels of Seattle hospital welcomes readers into a patient accountable culture in action. We'll witness his real as life characters step into the roles needed to define and attain accountability, and give patients what they need the most.

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

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