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


Is Your Healthcare Team Warm Enough?

Healthcare teamworkTamika rushes into the clinic. She’s late. 32 minutes late, to be precise. As she arrives she meets the eyes of the Medical Receptionist, who glances at her disapprovingly. Darting into the back, she pulls off her gloves and hurriedly hangs her coat in her locker.

Her manager, Kate, is suddenly there. “You’re late” she declares.  Continue reading

Enough! Stop Labeling Your Difficult People.

labeling peopleThe Negotiator.

The Complainer.

The Know-it-Alls, Whiners, and Fit-Throwers.

It seems, in an effort to simplify how to deal with challenging customers, co-workers, or employees, we are regularly encouraged to apply labels to various “difficult personality types.” At least once a day my Twitter feed includes a link to a blog post or management article trumpeting the “7 Difficult Personalities & How to Deal With Them.” Entire training programs have been built around helping participants recognize and understand a set of descriptive categories so they can then pick a corresponding coping strategy. Continue reading

Is Your Healthcare Team Prepared For What’s Coming?

healthcare teambuildingIn just over 2 months the new normal begins.

A tidal wave of Americans who were uninsured will suddenly be able to use previously out-of-reach healthcare services. Even the most conservative estimates predict a flood of new healthcare consumers as a result of healthcare reform. Many experts think it will be in the neighborhood of 30-40 million.  Continue reading

Keep Calm…and Be A Leader

keep calmA few years ago I had the opportunity to hear Rudy Giuliani speak at a national conference I attended.  While our politics don’t have a lot in common, I found his remarks at the time compelling. The topic? Remaining calm in the face of crisis.

The most memorable part of his speech was a story about advice he received from his father as a young boy.  “Son” he said, “If you are ever in a building and there’s a fire, be the calmest person in the room.”

Be the calmest person in the room.

As I ‘m sure you can imagine, this advice from his father, shared with him as a young boy, came roaring back to him on that fateful day in September, 2001.

Be the calmest person in the room.

This message resonated with me at the time, and still does, for a pretty simple reason… I’m not very good at being the calmest person in the room.

I’m an emotional guy. I admit it. Not the yell-and-scream type (thankfully), more the wear-the-heart-on-my-sleeve guy. I’m aware that much of the time my emotions, frustrations, and stresses are visible to those around me, for better or for worse.  I recognize however that maintaining an even keel is a critical component of leading others and it’s something I’ve worked on over the years. I’m not perfect, but I’m better than I was.

I firmly believe that teams that are resilient- that weather change and the unexpected with grace and aplomb- are most often led by emotionally intelligent leaders who don’t get too high or too low in the moment. If you want your team to meet stress with grace, you must first show them how. If you want them to respond to demanding times with a drive to overcome, you must do it first. This doesn’t happen in any singular grand gesture but in the way you carry yourself through the small, ongoing interactions and challenges you face week to week. Be a leader that sets a tone for how to handle life’s trials and tribulations…

Be the calmest person in the room.

The One Thing All Healthcare Organizations Must Do in the Next 12 Months

patient satisfactionThe next 12 months will be more challenging for healthcare organizations than any other period in history. The impending changes brought about by healthcare reform will provide access to care to millions of Americans who previously didn’t have it. This increase in patient volume and demand for services appears poised to strike at the same time that healthcare organizations are struggling with recruiting challenges, staffing shortages, and reduced revenues. It seems unlikely, at most sites, to expect an expansion of support equal to the increased demand. It’s not over-reaching to state that the burden on front line personnel and their managers will be like none they’ve seen before. Now more than ever healthcare leaders need to step-up their efforts to teach their teams how to attend to the single most influential factor in the patient experience: Continue reading