Be 'professionally blunt' — 4 tips for developing a great leadership team

The drafting and management of a successful leadership team is a soft science with no fixed blueprint. However, beyond measuring organizational achievements, the experience of being part of successful leadership team can perhaps best be surmised by the colloquialism "I know it when I see it."

A hospital CEO must rely on his or her team of leaders to promote the long-term vision and culture of an organization, while also completing essential day-to-day duties. These relationships require trust and diligent upkeep.

During the Becker's Hospital Review 8th Annual meeting in Chicago April 19, Steven Little, president and CEO of Agnesian Healthcare in Fond du Lac, Wis.; Parveen Chand, COO of Indiana University Health Academic Health Center–Adult Hospitals in Indianapolis; Christopher Weaver, MD, senior vice president of clinical effectiveness at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis; and Julie Blatnik, senior director of clinical operations with Medtronic, discussed leadership culture and the keys to establishing a great leadership team.

Here are four tips panelists offered during the discussion.

1. Leverage the entire team for daily and long-term goals.

Speaking about his 3-year tenure as COO of Indianapolis-based Eskenazi Health, Mr. Chand discussed the importance of leveraging the entire team in terms of long-term strategy and daily tasks.

"Part of our work was really segmented in terms of leveraging our entire team, so deciding the specific roles of the chief nursing officer, the chief strategy officer, the CFO and deciding who is going to execute [which strategy] ... we leveraged our team to do both long-term strategy and daily operations."

2. Develop trust and eliminate territorial mentality.

During the discussion, Dr. Weaver spoke about the importance of having leaders who are interested in team goals beyond the scope of their particular field.

"Trust is the biggest key for our team," said Dr. Weaver. "We've had great success in working together and crossing into each other's area[s] ... We're not territorial at all and I think that's important ... to truly function as a team. It's about keeping an eye on the same prize."

3. Know when to ask for help.

Ms. Blatnik suggested team members should feel comfortable relying on one another for assistance, which can be integrated into the culture by a shared vision.

"If we share the same vision and engage, identify and respect each other's diverse talent, we have to know when something is outside of [our] expertise [and] reach out," said Ms. Blatnik.

4. Be "professionally blunt."

During the panel discussion, Mr. Little spoke about the importance of being able to constructively disagree in order to optimize the decision making process.

"We make better decisions when we don't agree respectfully and professionally about why we should be moving in one direction or another, but in the end recognizing that the majority is going to rule," said Mr. Little. "It's about being professionally blunt and straightforward with each other and not candy coating difficult issues ... We have difficult problems in the industry. We better step up and face them and work together in a collaborative way."

The drafting and management of a successful leadership team is a soft science with no fixed blueprint. However, beyond measuring organizational achievements, the experience of being part of successful leadership team can perhaps best be surmised by the colloquialism "I know it when I see it."

 

A hospital CEO must rely on his or her team of leaders to promote the long-term vision and culture of an organization, while also completing essential day-to-day duties. These relationships require trust and diligent upkeep.

 

During the Becker's Hospital Review 8th Annual meeting in Chicago April 19, Steven Little, president and CEO of Agnesian Healthcare in Fond du Lac, Wis.; Parveen Chand, COO of Indiana University Health Academic Health Center–Adult Hospitals in Indianapolis; Christopher Weaver, MD, senior vice president of clinical effectiveness at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis; and Julie Blatnik, senior director of clinical operations with Medtronic, discussed leadership culture and the keys to establishing a great leadership team.

 

Here are four tips panelists offered during the discussion.

 

1.      Leverage the entire team for daily and long-term goals.

 

Speaking about his 3-year tenure as COO of Indianapolis-based Eskenazi Health, Mr. Chand discussed the importance of leveraging the entire team in terms of long-term strategy and daily tasks.

 

"Part of our work was really segmented in terms of leveraging our entire team, so deciding the specific roles of the chief nursing officer, the chief strategy officer, the CFO and deciding who is going to execute [which strategy] … we leveraged our team to do both long-term strategy and daily operations."

 

2.      Develop trust and eliminate territorial mentality.

 

During the discussion, Dr. Weaver spoke about the importance of having leaders who are interested in team goals beyond the scope of their particular field.

 

"Trust is the biggest key for our team," said Dr. Weaver. "We've had great success in working together and crossing into each other's area[s] … We're not territorial at all and I think that's important … to truly function as a team. It's about keeping an eye on the same prize."

 

3.      Know when to ask for help.

 

Ms. Blatnik suggested team members should feel comfortable relying on one another for assistance, which can be integrated into the culture by a shared vision.

 

"If we share the same vision and engage, identify and respect each other's diverse talent, we have to know when something is outside of [our] expertise [and] reach out," said Ms. Blatnik.

 

4.      Be "professionally blunt."

 

During the panel discussion, Mr. Little spoke about the importance of being able to constructively disagree in order to optimize the decision making process.

 

"We make better decisions when we don't agree respectfully and professionally about why we should be moving in one direction or another, but in the end recognizing that the majority is going to rule," said Mr. Little. "It's about being professionally blunt and straightforward with each other and not candy coating difficult issues … We have difficult problems in the industry. We better step up and face them and work together in a collaborative way."

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