12 Insights Into Great Leadership

12 leadership insights for healthcare executives

During my career I have had the privilege of getting to know a lot of leaders of organizations large and small. Some were visionaries beloved by generations of employees. Others were good stewards who didn't rock the boat. Still others had been promoted into leadership positions because they had tenure in the company or were related to the founders. They tend to be insecure about themselves and didn't like having responsibility for others, often with disastrous consequences for the organizations they led.
After so many years being in leadership positions and observing other leaders as a publisher and consultant, I have a few observations to share that may be helpful to those who are already in leadership positions or wishing to join the leadership ranks.
1. Be your own person. Don't try to imitate the traits of other leaders. Too many leaders read business books and then try to translate what they read verbatim to their organizations. I know a lot of people liked the biography of Steve Jobs, who was certainly a great innovator, but his abrasive style would certainly not work in most other situations. The most effective leaders I know are secure in their own skin and don't try to copy the behavior of other leaders. Establish your own personal brand.
2. Show the way with your own behavior. People respect leaders who are confident and who act like leaders and not followers. Establish your own code of conduct as to ethics, character and mission. These are critical elements to future success.
3. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are! Sounds odd, doesn't it? It takes courage, but bright and talented people attract other bright and talented people and your job is made easier. Yes, there are egos, but it is your job to manage them. Do so and your success as a leader is virtually guaranteed.
4. Take risks and innovate. If your team believes in you they will stick with you no matter what the odds are. Everyone wants the chance to do things differently so that things run better and revenues increase. Start new programs that are more efficient and employee-friendly so the customers' needs are fulfilled. Be a disruptive innovator.
5. Recognize success. When someone on your team has succeeded at something, make a big deal about it so that others can feel the culture you are creating, one of inclusive success.
6. Be above the fray! Now that you are the leader you cannot go back into the ranks and be one of the guys or one of the girls. That is over, and you have to conduct yourself in such a manner that you make it plain you have responsibilities that are critical to the success of the organization. That does not mean you ignore old friends or become a recluse. But what it does mean is that you now have to keep your own counsel and refrain from being too open and friendly with some of your previous associates.
7. Flatten out the organizational chart. Some leaders individuals feel that the more people that report to them gives them status and security. That type of thinking promotes bureaucracy and does not bode well for efficiency and morale. The more empowered everyone feels, the better.
8. Be transparent in everything you do. An open door policy is a great way to conduct any business so that employees can feel you are open to ideas and care and respect them as well. The same goes for the media. Always be willing to speak to reporters. Don't hide and do not lie. They will find you out quickly and any credibility you may have established with them will go by the wayside!
9. Treat everyone with dignity and respect. No matter their station in the company, treat everyone as an equal and let them know how much you appreciate their efforts. As a matter of fact, go out of your way every day to do so. Leaders lead people on an exciting journey. They need to make people feel proud, relevant and treasured. That also mirrors what kind of standards you abide by and how much you care for the welfare of all in your organization.
10. Never forget your customers! They are the lifeblood of any organization and yet often they are taken for granted. There is a lot of competition to contend with in any industry. So it is important that you spend a lot of time in the field with your colleagues to make sure your customers are being taken care of properly.
11. Support your industry by being involved with associations so you know who the key players are and can pick up valuable news that can be helpful to your people.
12. Finally, be ambitious. There is nothing wrong with wanting more in your life and career. Make sure, though, that this ambition is shared with your team. Engage them with high expectations. Establish clear priorities and strive for excellence in everything you and they do. It is as simple as what the poet Robert Browning once wrote. "Ah, a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what is a heaven for?"


More From Chuck Lauer:

Chuck Lauer: The Future of Healthcare Demands Proactive Leaders
8 Truths on Health Reform
Chuck Lauer: Look Me in the Eye

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