The power of style

The power of style

Our leadership style, the approach we take to leading and managing is the single greatest factor influencing our impact on those around us, and our performance as managers. Our style is largely a function of how we think which is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves, the assumptions we make about those around us, and how we habitually approach work, whether we focus on the task or people, or both. Task and People Focus We tend to have a natural leaning toward task or people. Focusing on one and not the other undermines the capacity of teams to achieve their full potential. Managers who balance both have a multiplier impact. They empower the people around them to achieve clear goals toward a shared mission and vision. In this way these managers expand the capacity of their team beyond what any individual within it could achieve on their own.   Empowered or disempowered Our own sense of self has a resounding impact on the approach we take to managing and leading. Self-empowered people have a strong sense of self, defined internally by themselves, their purpose and values, which they do not compromise to fit in. Disempowered people rely on external factors to define who they are – other people’s opinion’s and regard for them, events and material factors. People who do not feel empowered tend to either defer to others for direction and approval, or compete against others for status or recognition. People who are more disempowered will tend to work harder at fitting in, compromise themselves and can be seen as inconsistent. Our levels of empowerment can...
Clinical Leaders – Are you open to external review?

Clinical Leaders – Are you open to external review?

External influence – networking The Duckett Report “Targeting Zero” which was triggered by a series of clinical events in a Victoria hospital emphasised how critical it is to have external review to assure that the informaiton, practices and assumotions that form the basis for care is best practice.   Given that information and evidence is growing at an exponential rate, it is safe to assume that one team, clinician or manager cannot remain current unless they are accessing new ideas, new information, evidence and new perspectives from outside as much as possible.  But it is a really challenge.  Managers and clinicians are so busy doing the work that they can’t find time to stop and reflect on whether the work they are doing is effective or even still relelvant.  Time gets away from you and before you know it, it is 10 years down the track and you are still practicing or managing in exactly the same way as you did way back when….   This is not OK – it leads to a very insular view of the world and even parochialism, which as we have seen can result in catastrophic outcomes for patients, staff and healthcare organisations.   I am convinced that this applies as much to managers as it does to clinicians.  I have noticed that the nursing leaders who are the most progressive, and make the greatest impression and impact in their organisations and the system, are the ones that get out and build supportive networks that extend well beyond their friendship groups and their organisations.  Nursing executives have formed powerful groups that meet regularly...
Hate managing people? Then don’t – help them manage themselves

Hate managing people? Then don’t – help them manage themselves

Possibly the greatest challenge for clinicians transitioning into management is the shift in their relations with the people they work with. In healthcare, the people that make up these clinical teams are highly qualified and skilled to perform their clinical roles relatively autonomously – they know what to do without their manager telling them. So why do they need to be managed at all? The skills needed to manage highly autonomous experts doing highly complex work, are very different to those needed to manage unskilled people doing less complex work.

How clinical leaders learn

How clinical leaders learn

“Are we heading into a future where knowing is obsolete?”[1] The changes and challenges facing healthcare, coupled with the overwhelming and growing supply of information, put in doubt traditional and static forms of education.  In these forms, the student is ‘filled’ with the theories and information needed to perform specific roles and functions.  The rate of knowledge production is so great, that much of what is learned in such programs is likely to be superseded before the student has completed their program.  Education programs that are static may have the paradoxical affect of making the student more resistant to the changing context as they cling to the theories they learned and become closed to new ideas.  This is amplified in leadership development programs, where the view that the leader is the font of all knowledge is no longer tenable. Furthermore, the problems confronting clinicians do not lend themselves to traditional education and tried solutions.  It is not enough to simply develop clinical leaders’ individual management competencies.  The process of developing skills must also be transformative on a personal, organisational and professional level.  The problem is that the standard approach to training and development for leaders do not translate into individual, team and organisational improvements immediately (and sometimes they never do!)  The focus is on the skills, competencies and the trainer’s processes – and not on the real problems and challenges that the manager has to deal with in reality. The reality is that every team member is unique – and every manager is unique – and in these times, there are more unique situations and problems than standard ones. ...
Two Critical Ingredients for Patient Safety

Two Critical Ingredients for Patient Safety

The needs of patients in hospitals are often so complex and changing – there are no simple solutions or plans of care.  Every single health professional needs to be contributing at their highest levels as autonomous individuals together in powerful inter-disciplinary collaborations.  In such collaborations, no one can play small. Everyone must have the courage and self-belief to speak up and share their expertise. This is especially true for nurses and midwives who are the eyes and ears at the point of care.  They usually have the greatest depth of knowledge of the people they are caring for as they form relationships over the 24 hours each day the patient is in hospital. Nurses and midwives are usually to first to realize things are not quite right. Making sure that their voices are heard and count is a two-way strategy: The workplace must make it safe for nurses and midwives (and others) to speak up when they sense that things are not quite right. The habitual, unthinking response to people who raise concerns tells everyone whether it is safe or not – this is the organisational culture. Individual nurses and midwives need to find their own voice, and the courage to raise it. This is a personal self-empowerment journey that takes strong congruence, conviction and courage. There will be times when the individual will need to be counter cultural (go against the prevailing norms) in order to remain congruent with his or her own values.  This is when their levels of self-empowerment will show because it is at these times that their conviction and courage be called upon to...
Turning conflict into synergistic intelligence

Turning conflict into synergistic intelligence

In an age of disruption and diminishing resources, we have to plumb even into deeper levels of capacity as individuals, teams and organisations.  To get full access to the intelligence, creativity and capacity of teams, you need a culture that makes people feel safe to express their ideas – even when these contrast and even conflict with the dominant view. But so often individuals and teams avoid such differences and prefer to say nothing and fit in because the potential for conflict is too scary.  But this can be turned around so that differences are encouraged and do not have to degenerate into destructive conflict.  Such differences are actually the source of synergistic intelligence which is the intelligence of a group that greater than the combined intelligence of the individuals within it. To tap this intelligence and avoid destructive conflict, you need to understand your relationship to conflict, have skills to integrate and negotiate differences and conflict, and predictable processes for dealing with conflict when it is destructive. If you want to develop this insight, skills and strategies for turning conflict into synergistic intelligence, then join us in our one-day program, Managing Relationships and Conflict, on August 12, 2016. You can also register for the whole Clinician to Manager: Acceleration Program,...
Single Point of Failure

Single Point of Failure

I am a director on a board of a not for profit organisation. Having just completed the Australian Institute’s Company Directors’ course, I was reminded of the enormous responsibility individual directors hold for the welfare of their organisation. They are individually, legally responsible for the health of the company.

Shifting perspectives – Transition into management

Shifting perspectives – Transition into management

There seems to be an assumption that because nurses are great clinically, or have been around for a long time, they should be promoted into management. But, nursing and management are two very different roles. Nurses are great at getting things done, and doing them well – at solving other people’s problems. And that strength can sometimes gets in the way of getting things done through others – which is what great managers do well. One of our greatest challenges when we go from clinician to manager is getting work done through others, and holding them to account, and shifting our focus from the individual’s well-being to the team’s and the organisation’s well-being. A Unit manager is responsible in many ways for the quality of people’s lives for 8 hours of every day they work in their teams – even when the manager is not there, even when the manager is not leading. Because if the manager, the legitimate leaders in the organisation is not leading the team, someone else is. Whenever there is a leadership vacuum, some one will fill it – and these ‘someones’ are not necessarily doing it well or for the right reasons. If you are a manager of a unit, you are also responsible for achieving the organisation’s mission and strategic priorities – and sometimes these seem to be at odds with the priorities of the individuals in your team – so you need to manage performance too. And it often seems hard to do this and maintain the friendships you once had as a clinicians. There are so many things to consider when...
No theory-practice gap – accelerating management learning

No theory-practice gap – accelerating management learning

According to the National Institute of Health in the US – there are 185,000 clinical trials every year. How do clinicians know their practice is based on current evidence?

The reality is that you can’t know everything – so knowing things is no longer enough. We need to know how to get information, evidence and then make sense of it.

That’s what makes it so important to create cultures where everyone’s contribution is valued and they are encouraged to continually review what they do know, continue learning and testing their assumptions. To foster this culture, we don’t have to have all answers – we need to ask great questions and find innovative solutions.