Healthcare minus the snobbery

Attitudes of elitism aren't just a sign of poor teamwork in healthcare — they are a sign of incompetence. 

Elitism and healthcare are longtime cousins, a relationship that can be problematic but unsurprising. Take a big group of people hyper-specialized in what they do for a living, with skills and talents that are difficult and time-consuming to replicate, find or build. Add in different licensure rules, educations and degrees, pay scales, risks and stakes, and levels of visibility and recognition. 

It's no wonder that, at its worst, healthcare can foster elitism — attitudes of superiority that professionals may hold over others based on perceived or real differences in status or merit. This often brings out messy feelings and behaviors, including resentment, power struggles, and a disparity in recognition that may leave some feeling undervalued and others overly praised. Navigating this complex web of politics can feel like a secondary job, and it ultimately distracts from the bigger mission at hand.

The health systems that will win in terms of employee recruitment and retention, leadership development, and patient experience and outcomes will be those with the best people skills. Healthcare has no room today for superiority or condescension. Proclaiming this is one thing, but how leaders live it out daily within teams and organizations of thousands of people is the real test. 

Here are three thoughts on what this can look like and why it matters: 

1. Snobbery is small. I often recall a story in which a party guest corrected the host who offered him champagne by taking a look at the bottle and restating: "Would I like a glass of sparkling wine? Champagne only comes from France." 

Sometimes snobbery can make people feel small, because even broken clocks are right twice a day. But more often than not, arrogance signals misaligned priorities and need for personal growth. Graciousness, humility and self-awareness are more powerful than desperate attempts at one-upping ever will be. Say thanks for domestic champagne and put energy toward adding life to the party, metaphorically speaking.  

2. Interdependence is a superpower. If anything good has come from healthcare's workforce shortages, it is undeniable clarity about the interdependence of the professionals and jobs throughout different parts of the system. No role is insignificant. Professions are different, not better/worse. 

Effective leaders will capitalize on this heightened awareness of how much their people need one another. They will harness such clarity to energize people and morale, reinforce it in their actions and hold the bar for others to do the same. Unerring respect and appreciation isn't an act of charity or a heroic feat. It's to be expected. Strong leaders will normalize such goodwill throughout all levels of their organizations. 

3. The less pretentious, the better. Pretentiousness involves insincere attempts to appear more impressive or important than one actually is. Who has time for it? Healthcare is complicated enough. It needs leaders who are themselves, remember where they came from, and love people. Effective healthcare leaders prioritize building real connections with others first; whether they impress them or not is of lesser concern.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars