August 9, 2017
An Effective Leadership Equation
One year ago, I was trying to stay afloat on a sinking ship. While tackling turmoil and negativity, I was desperately yearning for a glimmer of hope. My plan was to abandon it all, swim ashore and run away. At last, when the escape was imminent, I turned around! A sudden spark inspired me to attempt salvage instead of running away. When I first stepped into my leadership role, I was given the task to mend a broken system. My team was disengaged, the administration doubtful and the system had some operational gaps that needed to be bridged. I had to start from square one. A year later, I am now the captain of a robust and resilient ship that is cruising with poise. As I look back and engage in some introspection, I realize that my equation for effective leadership is the sum of transparency, proficient communication and a positive perspective.
I firmly believe that transparency is an essential leadership trait. By transparency, I mean honesty and sincerity that is consistent and equitable across all channels. It encourages providers to be open and also accords them a sense of comfort and trust. I always discuss all hospital proceedings with my team members with full disclosure. I provide them with concrete data and ask for their partnership in overcoming obstacles. Just like my patients, I want every single member of my team to be well informed. The approach also allows me to form and solidify meaningful relationships with all providers. Complete transparency also increases productivity. It facilitates achievement of mutual goals. All my providers know exactly how they are doing in terms of performance measures and other requirements on a weekly basis. The hard data motivates them, and they continue to improve and strive for success. Furthermore, I try to execute this approach at all levels. I employ the same outlook when dealing with administration and other networks at my hospital. By doing this, I am able to maintain a progressive and healthy dialogue between all parties involved. Transparency results in a symbiotic relationship between all channels of the intricate healthcare network, thereby bridging gaps.
Communication is one of the most important aspects of successful leadership. A year ago, one of the first hurdles I was able to quickly identify, as the new leader, was the lack of communication between key players in the hospital and my team. I used active listening, as well as my heightened sense of situational awareness, to fuel better communication across all parties involved in patient care. I also realized that too much communication is better than none, and overindulgence when it comes to communication is never harmful. Through my leadership experience, I have also learned that it is also important to distinguish an effective communicator from a good speaker. These are both substantial, yet disparate, skills. The best communicators are great listeners, and they are always well aware of all context and their surroundings. They can quickly adapt to social cues and effectively use their skills to achieve mutually beneficial goals. Proficient communication at my site has resulted in excellent teamwork and healthy relationships among providers, administrators and all other personnel. Ultimately, this approach also led to improved quality of patient care.
A positive outlook is crucial for effective and successful leadership. Without a positive attitude, all leadership efforts can fail and a team can dissolve. My goal as Chief Hospitalist is to always maintain positivity in hopes that my attitude and candor will prove to be contagious. A positive attitude can decrease the rate of burnout in providers. It can foster a culture where team members actually like coming to work. It can also eliminate resentment in the workplace. I have already seen a major shift in attitude within my team and even across administration. I am still learning to become a better leader every day. I acquired the values and skills I mentioned above from experience and observation. I make mistakes on a daily basis and use the opportunity to learn and improve. Today, my team and I enjoy a relatively healthy optimism towards our future in Sound Physicians and our hospital. Today, my ship is not just afloat, but thriving, and I am one proud captain.