Leadership in Uncertain and Changing Times
By Danna Beal, M.Ed.International Speaker
Author and Coach
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Original Publish Date: June 8, 2021
We are hopefully turning the corner in the Covid-19 environment but the impact on healthcare has been immeasurable. There have been no one-size-fits-all solutions nor easy answers during these unpredictable times. Employees have been under extreme pressure to meet all the requirements at work, while also dealing with their personal lives, school closures, children at home, political dissension in families and friendships, social media, and ongoing uncertainty.
According to Gallup polls, engagement is slightly up, but employees are stressed and burned out. Patient care and satisfaction are profoundly impacted by the workplace culture. So, whether you are an administrator, clinic manager, physician, nurse, or in the C-suite, the demand for innovative and dedicated leaders has never been greater.
Leaders can emerge from all levels within an organization. Job descriptions and titles on an organizational chart do not define leadership. The skills and traits to lead need to be developed and nurtured within everyone, especially in times of change and uncertainty. The very culture, the workplace environment, and ultimately, the patient experience is a result of good leadership, communication, and teamwork.
Everyone Is a Leader
In these troubled, uncertain times, we don't need more command and control; we need better means to engage everyone's intelligence in solving challenges and crises as they arise.
- Margaret Wheatley
People spend three fourths of their waking hours at work; not to mention the commute time and the added hours thinking about work, discussing it or complaining about it when they are not there. So, making it a place where people want to come and be part of is key to having a thriving organization. Here are some suggestions for creating a culture which encourages individual responsibility, leadership, contribution, and cooperation.
- Provide flexibility and benefits that really matter to people. These could include four-day weeks, shared jobs, working from home days, staggered shifts, part-time positions, and any other ideas that employees or leaders might think of. What you lose in the confidence of routines and reliable schedules will be made up in gains in increased productivity, loyalty, and retention.
- Create an environment that genuinely cares about employees and does not try to command and control from the top down and make decisions without consensus and collaboration. Mandates and directives made without consideration of employees’ response, often results in resistance and therefore, causes loss in productivity, teamwork, and smooth-flowing procedures. Employees need to be heard. In addition to bringing about cooperation, buy-in, and loyalty, it provides leadership with new points of view, innovative ideas, and important feedback unavailable from a leadership position. Leaders who want to be respected need to first offer respect to those they lead. Recognizing that everyone influences someone or many others, so everyone is actually a leader and can help bring about a harmonious and committed team.
- Walk your talk and live up to your organizational mission, which by the way, almost always includes the word compassion. Demonstrate loyalty and genuine affinity for your fellow co-workers and employees. I call it the BE LOVE model for leadership, because leadership stemming from the power of love can accomplish results unattainable in other ways. Clever strategies, slogans, and words designed to convince and persuade others do not ring true or resonate with people, and therefore, cause lack of trust. People want to know that you have their backs, and they can feel when leaders are sincere.
- Place value on the work of individuals, regardless of their place on the organizational chart. Coach employees to help them find their possible career paths within the organization. Give recognition and praise at every opportunity. People who are valued and coached with clear goals will usually exceed your expectations.
- Use extreme care in selecting the people you place in official and recognized leadership positions, whether they are promoted from within or recruited from the outside. The number one reason people leave an organization is because of the bad boss. An ego-driven leader, such as a micro-manager, a know-it-all leader, or narcissist, can very rapidly create a fearful and toxic environment, where gossip and blame become a major problem. I cannot count the number of hospital departments, clinics, healthcare conferences, and conventions, where drama and dissension are cited as the biggest blocks to teamwork and compassionate patient care. Carefully choose candidates who possess emotional intelligence, in addition to the clinical or administrative skills for the job description.
- Make trust the number one theme or value in your organization. Without trust people flounder, fear making mistakes, blame others, and do not remain loyal. Time is wasted and the patient experience is seriously impacted. Honor the spirit in ourselves and others that resides beneath our ego identities and replace fear with trust and compassion. If you are interested, join the conversations and contribute your ideas at Project Illumination, my Facebook group committed to inspiring others to be positive, peaceful, and loving.
- Commit to your own personal mastery and development. This requires introspection and self-inquiry to know your own authentic power and inner soul. Enlightened leaders embody the following:
- Do not need to be right and have all the answers.
- Possess humility and can admit being wrong.
- Can say they are sorry.
- Listen with patience and understanding.
- Empower others rather than seeking personal validation.
- Take full responsibility for mistakes of their team. i.e. “The buck stops here.”
- Stand up for and support those they lead.
- Operate from integrity.
Providing compassionate patient care is the direct result of a healthy, compassionate workplace culture. Patient safety and satisfaction are at risk when there is conflict or dysfunction in the work environment. Like drops of water in a lake, everyone contributes. Choose to make a pristine environment rather than a toxic lake of egos and drama.
Danna Beal, M.Ed., lives in the Seattle, WA area where she is an international speaker, author, retreat/workshop leader, and executive coach. She has spoken to thousands of businesses and conferences and has been on countless radio shows, podcasts, and webinars discussing “Enlightened Leadership” and “Workplace Culture” based on her book, “The Extraordinary Workplace: Replacing Fear with Trust and Compassion.” Her audiences and clients have included: Seattle Science Foundation--Spine Surgeons Grand Rounds, Swedish Hospital and Medical Groups, Kaiser Permanente Grand Rounds, Oakland, CA, AHRA, Orlando, FL, Federal Aviation Administration, Overlake Hospital Perioperative Conference, Radia, numerous physician practices and hospitals. Her website is www.dannabeal.com.