By now you know that two of my favorite comments are:
1. I work with great people
2. And… some of my best thinking comes from others…
and this is again the case today.
Several years ago I had the opportunity to work with a superb nurse manager who ran a very busy surgical suite at a large hospital. It was a great project that involved her entire team of ANMs. As the emphasis of the project was enhancing the leadership of all on her team, she and her ANMs came up with the following document. It is one of my most distributed documents…all with the gracious permission of the author.
So why am I sharing it today? Because I am a fan of the basics. And as I speak with my coaching clients, I am reminded that with the level of intellect and accomplishment they bring to the table, they have a tendency to go to the complex and not pay attention to the simple.
The following is simple…the implementation is where the challenge is.
(The original text is regular print. My brief commentary is in italics)
Because I am a leader I must be:
1. Respectful of others – I once heard a great comment that said that respect can be best judged by how a leader treats those that work in the entry levels of the organization. Are you as solicitous of the housekeeper as you are of a key VP?
2. Fully present in the current situation – Are you pretending to pay attention while trying to multi-task?
3. Available to those who need my leadership – In spite of the meeting-heavy environment of health care, do you prioritize the individual, face-to-face interactions?
4. Ready to provide a timely response to needs – Few things motivate me as well as someone getting back to me promptly on an important topic
5. Able to inspire accountability for myself and those around me – “Holding people accountable” is not sustainable…it is actually demotivating. “Inspiring accountability” brings a whole other level of response.
6. Able to provide coaching and guidance to staff members – Very hard to do in the meeting-heavy environment, as noted above. However, if you are concerned with results, it is a focus that will pay rich dividends.
7. Able to promptly and consistently address behavioral situations that do not meet the standards of my healthcare institution – It has been my experience that healthcare struggles with conflict. Situation after situation that could have been rectified if gaps had been addressed promptly.
8. Willing to praise good performance as readily as noting growth areas. While there is a trend toward promoting wellness, healthcare is based, to some degree, on noting pathologies and correcting those. Unfortunately it seems to extend to leadership as well. While certainly you don’t want to leave growth areas unattended, people excell when what they do well is noticed. Doesn’t that sounds trite and obvious? And extremely overlooked!
9. Teachable – Leaders have to be learners…no exceptions to that rule.
10. Able to use a proper tone of voice – The higher the frustration, the worse the tone gets. I know that! And it doesn’t change the outcome just because there is a good reason. Tone can set the stage for either amazing or disastrous.
11. Consistent with my behavior. I choose what behavior I demonstrate to others. One great CEO I have worked with has a coffee mug that says “choose happy”. Sappy? Not really…just accurate. You and I are both in control of our behavior. Always.
I do not have the liberty to be negative or critical – A high bar and an essential one! Those two items set the tone for your organization and your team. “But I’m an introvert”. “I am not a positive person”. “I can’t fake something I am not sincere about”. “I am a realist”. If you find yourself saying those things, it is time to reflect. Look at history. Empathy. Optimism. Perspective. Hope. Vision. Those mark a great leader. Few exceptions to that.
Because I am a leader I cannot:
1. Speak critically of others in public. I must manage up. I must set the highest standard. – See the commentary on ‘negative and critical’. Additionally, it can be useful to make a list of comments, seriously, that you know you cannot ever use. Keep that rehearsed in your mind. Knowing that relationships are based on a tapestry of small actions, always have the question at the forefront, regardless of your moods or current feelings “Is the comment I am about to make building or destroying a bridge”?
2. Be late to meetings. – Why something so specific? Because it communicates so much. When you wander in late, using whatever ‘good’ reason you might think you have, the message is clear. Something else was more important. Might have been…but was it REALLY unavoidable?
3. Be sarcastic or cynical – Dangerous areas to tread in. Simply stated…don’t! Words matter and what leaders say matter even more!
Nothing speaks louder to employees than the deeds of those who manage or supervise them.
What leaders actually do (or fail to do) reveals their priorities and values more than what they say.
It is the solemn obligation of a leader always to be a leader (and act like a leader). Even when – perhaps especially when – you don’t feel like being a leader. –Bill Owens
No commentary needed