Goals are pathetic for most people. If most of us would admit it, our goals are written down only occasionally, accomplished randomly, and mostly ignored. Our neural pathways are just too powerful and the goals don´t overcome the habits…unless there is a passionate motivation that drives us toward it.
You cannot be a dynamic leader without being able to set a goal in front of your people, commit to it, and drive toward it. And please know, and I could get in trouble for this one, hand hygiene is not a motivating goal! This is a great example of setting targets that motivate no one! From the time of Florence Nightingale it has been known that washing hands is a great thing, but we still don´t do it? I have NOTHING against something as important as preventing infection. However, it is a super example of a big problem. Brings to mind the definition of insanity…the same actions and wanting a different result.
A good question for you, the leader, is what are similar areas in my area that could match the hand hygiene dilemma? Why is it still a problem? What am I missing? Who could tell me what I am missing. This applies as much to a charge nurse as it does to a CEO. It is a powerful series of questions.
If you were to ask your people, right now, what the primary goal of your area is, could they tell you? If you hesitate on that one, you probably have your answer.
I love the phrase – leadership would be great if it weren’t for the people. While most leaders have days which make that phrase a reality, the great leaders love people. They realize (another obvious statement) that people are the most important part of their company. Nothing happens without them. So how do you treat them? Really.
Tom Peters, the management genius, is purported to have said that leadership is:
1. Finding great people
2. Hiring them
3. Finding what they want
4. Getting it for them
5. Getting out of the way.
Steve Jobs said about the Apple approach to managing genius: we don’t hire great people and tell them what to do. We hire great people to tell us what to do.
The author validates a strong point of leadership by stating that the successful leaders are those that realize that the people closest to the problem are the ones that have the answers. I once consulted at a manufacturing facility that suffered with a feud between the engineers and the ‘blue coats’. The ‘blue coats’ were non-degreed, front-line individuals and were not given the time of day by the engineers. The latter felt that the ‘blue coats’ should take their ideas and implement them without comment. You know where this is going. What the engineers overlooked is that, while these front-line employees were not ‘degreed’, they had, in this instance, over 200 years of experience between the nine of them. They knew this product cold. They had seen real-time problems and successes, not just blueprints. Once the engineers caught the picture that the front line were invaluable to the product success, the problems diminished.
Where is there a similar bottleneck in your area? Is there a nurse that is afraid to speak up because she is considered a ‘blue coat’?
As with most great books, as the chapters progress, you can see how the topics weave together. Remember in the first post on this book we talked about how motivation is based on the feeling of being able to make decisions.
I am currently going through a course on decision making. The process fascinates me, since it is all about how good decision making is based on good thinking. Our minds thrive on patterns. Patterns are based on experience. Unless it is forced to, the mind likes to stay with what it knows best, not where it could go in the future.
One of the most powerful tools you can employ is challenging your thinking and to teach that skill to your people. This is not an easy task. You start by asking questions and the questions have to be formed correctly. Two super resources on this, and I have mentioned them before are:
A More Beautiful Question, by Warren Berger and
Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, by John Maxwell
If any of you want to pursue this topic more with me, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not a lot of people consider themselves innovative. It is a sad situation that the current education system has pounded creativity out of most people by early elementary school.
As a test, put a black dot on a white paper and ask a five year old what it is. He or she will come up with several options of what it could be. It could be a bug. It could be a rock on a snowbank. It could be ……. However, by the time he or she is eight, the answer will be only one – a dot on a page. About three decades later, industry will be paying billions of dollars a year to send these now 38 year old individuals to creativity seminars to re-install what was taken out.
The book brings out a great point that most of creativity occurs by using old ideas in new ways. David Murray wrote a superb book on this called Borrowing Brilliance.
What brilliance is around you that you could borrow? I was talking with a clinic team just last week and a comment was made: “In five years there will be a new way of addressing this problem. Someone will have thought it up. What are they thinking right now that we are not”?
What a great way to approach it! Can you apply that to your area?
Years ago there was a short article in the Wall Street Journal that stated that around 70 percent of corporate change initiatives die within the first three months, costing world industry billions of dollars.
Why does this happen? Is the data bad? Is it delivered poorly? Was the original thinking flawed?
While it might be any of those answers, the answer probably lies with the fact that when we are presented with new data, our usual approach is to do nothing with it. The book responds with this great paragraph:
When we encounter new information, we should force ourselves to do SOMETHING with it. Write yourself a note explaining what you just learned, or figure out a small way to test an idea, or graph a series of data points into a piece of paper, force yourself to explain an idea to a friend. Every choice we make in life is an experiment- the trick is getting ourselves to see the data embedded in those decisions, and then to use it somehow so we learn from it.
A case in point: you have spent about ten minutes over the last couple of weeks reading these two blog posts. It is new data. While it is common sense, as I described in the first post, it is at this moment new data. What will you do with it? What questions will you ask? How will you be different in a month because of it?
What will you do, just by the end of today, to put into practice any part of these eight areas? Let me know if you need a thinking partner to put any of this into action. Happy to play that role.