I think, by now, you know how amazing I think my job is. Today was a great example of that. Part of executive coaching is the process of stakeholder interviews. Stakeholders are individuals, identified by the coachee and his/her individual leader, that can give feedback on the central questions of
What does the person do well?
Where does the person need to grow?
How will that growth be measured?
I am interviewing nearly 20 persons for a current coaching engagement. These persons are fellow physicians, nurses, administrators, nurse practitioners, and physician’s assistants.
So I get to spend hours speaking with well-educated, motivated, dedicated people about their views of leadership. I know, tough work.
Today I spoke with a BSN with nearly 20 years in health care. The doctor I am coaching has a superb reputation. She mentioned, among other things, how this physician had gained the confidence of fellow physicians and other health care professionals. She gave such a concise, on the mark answer, that I asked her permission to pass it along to you.
Now this is probably not new news. However, if you are mentoring new leaders, or if you are in a new leadership position, take a moment to review this nurse’s excellent five points for gaining the confidence of those you lead:
1 Respect the other disciplines of medicine. Granted, medicine remains hierarchical, in spite of efforts to change. It is slowly moving in the right direction, but the white coat still runs the room. While this is proper in many situations, the attitude with which it is run is so important. I have seen example after example, both good and bad, of this. It is not a situation of behavior change. It is a situation of change of thinking. Respecting the views of others never compromises one’s own judgement or influence. It, in fact, increases it.
2 Don’t worry about pleasing everyone. A common error of new leaders is wanting to be friends with all. This is an impossible task. Know the landscape. Establish the vision. Know your team well. Connect with the members of the team. Keep abreast of the views of the team. And then move forward with the decisions that further the vision.
3 Be consistent. That doesn’t mean you can’t change your views. Steve Jobs was well known for 180 degree turn in opinion when he became better informed on a topic. However, don’t make that your rule. It is extremely easy to treat people differently on basic areas and this can come back to haunt you. So, what rules you might have must apply to all. The personal behavior on your part must also be consistent. As a leader, you are held to a higher standard, both off and on the clock. Many might disagree with me on this, since there is a popular view that what a person does in his or her spare time is private. However, character-based leadership requires consistency in behavior toward self as a basis for consistency toward others.
4 Don’t speak poorly of others. Steve Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People stated that a fairly reliable measure of how people talk about you when you are not there is how they talk about others when you are there. As a leader you have to preserve the reputation of those around you. This is not to say you have to be duplicious. There are times, as a leader, when poor behavior needs to be identified and rectified. The key to the process is to do it with the person. It is easy to join the gossip chorus, especially if you used to be part of the front line and now are leadership. A slip here, that results in a loss of confidence from those you lead, can be fatal to the trust necessary for good leadership.
5 Be credible. Two foundational basics are demonstrable expertise and stellar work ethic. If you are lacking in either, the foundation will being to crumble. If you are strong in both, and combine that with the first four principles noted above, then the foundation strengthens daily. Leadership requires extra-mile in both of these areas. And, as I like to call it, this is no-excuse leadership. No exceptions, ever, in these two areas. Are you still an actively learning leader? Do you have a learning program, beyond CME or whatever your profession calls for? Do you get excited about what you are learning? Do you share it with others?And about work ethic…not to say you can’t leave early occasionally. But do it too often and it starts to decay the foundation. Suffice it to say that keeping the foundation strong is about one thousand times easier than trying to repair it.
So thank you to a superb nurse who shared these five simple, but foundational leadership points with me and allowed me to share it with you.