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Installment #2: How Can We Become Better Leaders? By Becoming Better Followers…

February 20, 2014


Guest Blogger: Megan Schramm BA, RN, CNOP, RNFA

Let’s Harness the power of your most valuable resource… your employees

In my last installment, we talked about the changes occurring in today’s healthcare environment and how we as organizational leaders need to adapt and change as well…. AND something that needs to change might just be our current leadership style…

So what exactly HAS been going on in healthcare?  The ACA, Meaningful Use and Quality Based Care are all major buzz words right now, but they are not the only changes going on in our world.  They are just the tip of the iceberg.  When you get down to it, the whole way we deliver care is changing.  Medicine gets more complex every day.  Healthcare is a frantic and unpredictable environment where challenges and change are daily occurrences.  In fact, many schools of thought say that we healthcare professionals are living at the edge of chaos.  No, I do not mean the state of your desktop… I am talking about the belief that when a system, individual or group is faced with either a negative situation or a positive opportunity, they are pushed out of their comfort zone, where it is safe, stable and predictable.  This disruption of normal flow creates an environment conducive to growth and learning.  People are forced to think outside the box and be creative.  This change in the environment means individuals must be innovative and inventive in order to thrive.  As a leader, wouldn’t you like to harness some of that innovation, growth and creativity?           

            The thing is traditional management models are not based on the environment of chaos, change and growth potential that healthcare has become.  Historically, managers sought to maintain order and consistency.  Their aim was the control of complex processes and ensuring the organization remained focused on the end objectives and operated according to set rules and policy.  It was all about maintaining status quo and NOT making waves….  Although this style of leadership is great for day to day operations, when looking at the whole picture, we leaders need to approach things differently in order to successfully deal with the unpredictable, chaotic and ever changing environment that our world has become.  Not only do we have to ensure our organizations are following mandated regulatory standards, but we must also take the issues of cost constraints and increasing public scrutiny into consideration while still allowing for the delivery of quality patient care.  That is a lot of plates to keep spinning!  The shift of healthcare from a volume-driven, fee-for-service approach to one that rewards (and reimburses) quality and efficiency calls for a more integrated model of care with greater vertical and horizontal assimilation of services and the implementation of uniform, data –based quality standards as well as the overall reduction of costs while still providing value.  What does this mean for us?  It means that the success of our organizations will depend as never before on the quality of our leadership and our ability to adapt to these initiatives.         

            Ok, so we know we know what doesn’t work.  We know it is time to re-evaluate our resources and figure out how to use them in the most efficient manner while still delivering quality patient care.  So where do we start?  How about with one of the most valuable resources we have at our disposal?  I’m talking about our employees.  It is time to harness the knowledge, experience, passion and enthusiasm of the clinicians who are out in the trenches every day- providing that exceptional care our patients need and deserve.  So how do we do it?

            In his volume aptly named Leadership, J.M Burns describes the concept of Transformational Leadership as a process in which “leaders and their followers help each other to advance to a higher level of morale and motivation.”  Rather than initiate directives from the top down, we need to find ways that facilitate a collective decision making process where all members of the organization are made to feel that they have influence over its success.  By following the basic principles of the Transformational Leadership approach, we can inspire the members of our facilities to change their expectations, perceptions and motivations and work together towards the common goals of the overall organization.

Ask not what your hospital can do for you, but what can you do for your hospital!  As a Transformational Leader, you need to inspire those you lead to share your vision of success.  Show them that running a healthcare organization is a team effort and they are a valuable and important part of that team.  Show your understanding and appreciation for what they do on a daily basis.  This will increase the value of what they do so that they feel that they are an important part of you organization.  Knowing that administration realizes their efforts will help to inspire them to give 100%…  100% of the time.

Now that they realize their worth and that their leaders value them, it is time to empower your employees… Give them the ability to take a greater ownership of the activity of your institution.  Give them a change to have a voice be an active participant in the creation of a better healthcare organization.  Through your own actions, keep them interested and enthusiastic about organizational change- help them to see the benefits of change rather than the annoyance of having to learn something new.

Do you have what is takes?  In order to be a Transformational Leader, you must inspire and encourage those who work for you to want to do their best for the good of the organization and, ultimately, their patients.  You need to be a cheerleader, an innovator, an open minded listener.   In addition, Transformational Leaders are… agents of change…. risk takers….  lifetime learners and visionaries.  They have an open and sincere relationship with their employees.  Lastly, they are led by their core values of their organization, and work to uphold its mission and vision.

Now that you know WHAT you need to be as a Transformational Leader, tune in next time when we talk about WHAT you need to DO!

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 23, 2014 11:00 AM

    I recently aattended a lecture by a Dr Ifran Ali director of Pioneer Medical Group. Inspired by lean processes he applied to his personal life, he made changes in his group. His group has used those changes to reduce the mortalty rate due to sepsis from the national averge of 46% to 10%! Really powerful stuff and a living testament to the points raised here. We can only hope those with infuence to enact changes follow the same pathways.

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