In Healthcare today, it takes strong leadership. More so, than at any other time in our nation’s history. We are at a crossroads. We will either find a way to turn the ship of declining outcomes and rising costs, or we will meet a fate similar to that of the Titanic.
Whenever a leader asks me about their performance on a particular initiative, I ask them “how many people are following you?” They look at me with a puzzled look, then ask “what do you mean?” I tell them, there are many definitions of leadership. Some will cite the ability to accomplish great things. Some would talk about overcoming enormous obstacles. But one definition that I really gravitate towards is this: The ability to lead people where they didn’t think they could go, or where they didn’t want to go.
In healthcare, most of the players (i.e., Doctors, nurses, etc…) are skeptical that we can accomplish what needs to be done in order to reduce costs and improve outcomes. There are also a large number of people that feel we don’t need to change anything at all. They believe that we have the best healthcare system in the world. Today’s healthcare leader will only be successful when they can inspire everyone to get behind them and begin to look at how we deliver healthcare differently.
What do I mean by improving outcomes? Simple, find ways to keep people living longer and healthier lives. I have never met a healthcare worker that didn’t want that for their patients. Administrators want the same thing too, they just look at things differently. Somehow, they both must come together to find a way to do this.
Leaders need strong teams to accomplish great things. In fact, the truth is, leaders accomplish very little on their own. Therefore, they must inspire their teams to understand why a particular initiative, task, or project is worthwhile. The goal should be to lead teams that deliver better care, at a lower cost, while giving patients the best possible healthcare experience.
As a leader, if you don’t have team buy in, or you feel that they are hesitant to support you, then you better rethink your approach. The number of people behind you represents the effectiveness of your leadership, so turn around and do an honest assessment from time to time.
You can make great speeches that are riveting and breathtaking but when you look behind you, what do you see? If there is nobody there following you into the metaphoric battle of the day, then guess what? It means nothing and that is a failure of leadership.