Blog Moved! Now at

JMA website screenshotHello friends! Thanks for keeping up with me here at my Inch by Inch site these last 3 years. As my business has grown I’ve decided to integrate my blog with my professional website. For that reason, you’ll need to head over to to see new content. This post will be the last one to appear on the Inch by Inch site. The best way to keep up with the articles, resources, and tools I share is to subscribe to my twice monthly email newsletter Help for Healthcare Leaders. You can do that on any page at Take care and keep in touch! ~JM


The Boss Who Sneaked Onto a Plane

southwestOn Sunday evening I was on the first of two flights that would take me home to Pittsburgh from a multi-day training event in Austin, Texas. As I do most of the time, I was flying Southwest Airlines.

Shortly after takeoff a man in a Southwest dress shirt stood and asked for our attention. He introduced himself as Sam, the regional head of flight attendants. Sam shared that he wanted to take a moment to recognize Brian who was currently serving our flight. From his pocket, Sam pulled out and read a letter, sent in by a passenger, describing the way Brian had helped her with her fussy infant on a recent flight. After reading the letter, Sam told us he had secretly “snuck onto the flight” to surprise Brian with this public display of appreciation, because “we get compliments about Brian all the time and are lucky to have him with us at Southwest.” At Sam’s request, the whole cabin gave Brian a rousing ovation. While Brian, blushing and trying to get smaller, shook his boss’s hand, his fellow flight attendants cheered him on with affection and respect. And moments later, when few were still watching, I saw Sam look into Brian’s eyes and say, with deep and sincere appreciation, “Thank you…for all that you do.” Continue reading

One Powerful Question To Ask Anyone Interviewing For A Healthcare Position

interviewHere’s a question you should ask anyone who is interviewing for a healthcare position:

“Tell me about a time when you were on a team with a toxic personality. What did they do and how did you handle that situation?”

In my book Cure for the Common Leader, one of the areas of effectiveness identified for leaders who want engaged healthcare teams is to Hire and Onboard Intentionally. This means not prioritizing speed or even experience in a search, but taking the steps to choose the right person for the job based on culture, needs, and “fit.” To do so, healthcare leaders must ask the right questions during selection. Continue reading

When Clear Feedback Delivers No Change


Joe MullI was leading a half-day workshop for new healthcare managers at a practice group in the Midwest recently, when one of the participants, Marilyn, shared her frustration with how an underperforming direct report, Sue, was responding to feedback.

“Every time I address these issues with her,” Marilyn said, “Sue responds with deep anguish. She tells me how awful she feels, acknowledging that she knows she’s letting everyone down. She’s remorseful and apologetic, almost to the point of making herself a martyr. Then she goes out and…nothing changes..”

Despite multiple feedback conversations with Marilyn, Sue continues to show up late, not complete all of her responsibilities, and make errors along the way.

“She seems to genuinely feel badly, but I’m pretty fed up at this point,” Marilyn told me.

“Then it’s time,” I told her, “to stop discussing incidents and start discussing the pattern.” Continue reading

Senior Healthcare Leaders: Are You Truly Helping Your Front-line Managers?

MGMA 2015 close-upEarlier this month I had the privilege of attending the MGMA (Medical Group Management Association) national convention in Nashville where I presented Engaging & Inspiring Your Healthcare Teams. I am a member of MGMA and, as I expected, had a terrific time and met many capable and dedicated healthcare leaders.

And while it was inspiring and informative at multiple levels, I noticed something interesting about the content.

It was heavily related to solving the problems senior healthcare leaders need solved. Continue reading

Are You Brave Enough as a Leader?

braveryThis weekend my daughter (who is almost 5) asked me a thoughtful question at dinner.

“Daddy, what is bravery?”

Several thoughts flashed through my mind in an instant. I wanted to give her an answer simplistic enough for her to understand but accurate enough to address the complexity of her question.

Bravery is when you’re not afraid, I thought, then immediately rejected that answer. “Bravery isn’t the absence of fear!,” my mind yelled. “Most people who have to be brave admit to also being quite scared at the same time!”

I decided at that moment to use a definition of the word courage I’d heard years earlier. Continue reading

Dealing with an Abrasive Doc

shouting doctorOnce I month I visit a local physicians practice group for 2 hours of leadership training and real-time performance management coaching. At one of these sessions, a Practice Manager asked me about a frustrating situation with a doctor, one that is, unfortunately, all too common.

”What do I do with a doc that constantly goes crazy on us?”

He described a physician who has angry, confrontational reactions to any and all hiccups, delays, questions, or problems that arise during the course of the day. Large, small, or common, it doesn’t matter. These violent outbursts are regular, predictable, and are directed toward the staff much of the time. This behavior has resulted in a constant quest, by the staff, to avoid this man at all costs. They all dread the days when they are scheduled to work under him.

So what’s a leader to do? Here are 5 strategies to Deal with an Abrasive Doc: Continue reading