Three leadership strategies for improving your bottom line

When discussing business growth strategies and the keys to financial success, it’s easy to focus on dollars and cents.

After all, understanding concepts such as gross profit margins and revenue cycle management is absolutely essential to ensuring financial solvency and longevity. But that’s only one piece of a very complex success equation—and I’d argue that a focus on people should actually come first.

Ultimately, businesses are about relationships—and relationships are about people. We either succeed or fail as a direct result of the people we choose to partner with, hire, or serve. Thus, choosing to lead consciously—and treating people intentionally—can make all the difference in the success of an organization. Even more so than other industries, health care revolves around people. As such, in our industry, it’s even more important to put people first. With that in mind, here are three leadership strategies to help improve company culture and operational efficiency—thus improving revenue, growth, and overall success.

1. Champion cognitive diversity.
We’re all familiar with the term “diversity” and the importance of creating diverse teams. However, I’d like to challenge you to expand the traditional definition of diversity—to go beyond factors like gender and race and account for things like a diverse range of knowledge, beliefs, preferences, and points of view. This is cognitive diversity, and it encompasses an entire person, not solely his or her gender or race.

Of course, it’s wise to build all your teams based on this approach, but it’s absolutely imperative to ensure your leadership team is cognitively diverse. Otherwise, you run the very real risk of missing opportunities as a result of the team’s blind spots. Leaders with diverse experiences and knowledge, however, are better able to avoid these potential blockers. And while cognitive diversity is important in all businesses sectors, it’s an especially great asset in healthcare organizations, as they have the unique challenge of balancing empathy with business savvy and analytics with gut instincts.

Now, strategically evaluating an executive’s knowledge, beliefs, preferences, and points of view does add a layer of complexity to the hiring process. It goes several steps beyond relying on the candidate’s history of achievements. In my company, we’ve found that conducting DiSC assessments and EQ (emotional intelligence) testing with potential executive-level hires—as well as our existing leadership team—has produced valuable insight into the dispositions and emotional/relational prowess of our people. Testing your current team will also allow you to identify areas ripe for improvement as well as gaps that could influence your strategy for future hires.

By starting at the top and ensuring cognitive diversity across your entire organization, you’ll greatly increase your odds of making balanced decisions that are better for your customers, your employees, and your company.

2. Stoke a collaborative spirit.
Leadership teams often recognize the value of working together while they’re at the office. But, true collaboration requires more than simply putting your heads together during regularly scheduled meetings. At WebPT, we’ve made it a point for our leadership team to take mini-retreats away from the office setting. During these short retreats, we focus on getting to know one another on a more personal level and strategizing important business matters. We use this time to have meaningful conversations that go far beyond a basic recap of what’s going on in each department. We talk about personal philosophies and encourage healthy debates—and then we grab a drink together after. This social time strengthens our bond as a team and amplifies our efficiency as leaders.

To ensure your leadership retreats are as effective as possible, be sure to choose a location away from the office, as this will help everyone loosen up, let their guards down, trust one another, and collaborate in really productive ways. And even if you can’t find a significant chunk of time to schedule an official retreat, simply booking regular leadership lunches will yield big dividends in your team’s effectiveness and cohesion. It really should be a priority. And you’ll notice a cultural shift in your office as a result of everyone coming together to work toward the same overarching goal.

3. Prioritize mutual respect.
If you’ve created a cognitively diverse team, then there’s a good chance your meetings will run smoothly, because the team will be balanced in terms of personality types. In other words, you probably won’t have all 10 people vying for the spotlight, because you’ll have a well-balanced mix of talkers and listeners. But even with this type of equilibrium, conflict can still arise. After all, people have their own insights and expectations, regardless of how they express them—and it’s only natural that your whole leadership team won’t always be in agreement.

When conflict does occur, respect is paramount. It’s important to foster a culture in which meetings and one-on-one conversations are understood to be safe spaces for sharing ideas and opinions. After all, the decisions that your leadership team makes will trickle down, impacting the entire company and often, the bottom line. Thus, everyone must feel like their voice and opinions are respected.

It sometimes can be challenging to draw the connection between leadership strategies and the business’s bottom line, but innovation and creative problem-solving can’t occur without cognitively diverse teams and a culture that fosters collaboration and mutual respect. Only then can you avoid blunders due to blinders.

At the end of the day, it’s about putting your people first. Look at any company that has sustained success over the long term and you’ll see, at their core, a commitment to their people.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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