This is the third in a series of articles I am writing on Leadership, aimed primarily at Rural Hospital Leaders, but really these are applicable for anyone. I am continuing to discuss the “Integral Leader.” In the “17 Traits identified in Great Hospital Leaders” I discussed the first two traits, the importance of a leader being fair, honest and open, and the importance of consistent rounding by the leader. Today I’d like to go deeper into #3 of the 17 traits–“Great leaders care more about the success of their organization than their own feelings or ego.”
As the leader of an organization, the number one item at the top of your list must be the success of, or sometimes the survival of the organization you lead. This means that nothing can morally stand in the way of the success of your organization–especially feelings or ego. Let’s look at those individually.
Feelings. A leader often makes decisions that are unpopular. You may have to move a very popular person out of the organization; you may have to discontinue a service line that is popular, but is a money loser; you may have to confront someone whom you like very much about their poor performance; or you may have to make recommendations to your board that are unpopular but necessary. People will talk–and they will criticize.These are all things that I daresay you have already faced if you are a leader. It would often be easier to “go along to get along,” but it is NOT in the best interest of the organization. Let me say that the first time I ever faced real, bald-faced lies about me was when I became the leader of a hospital. For some reason some people have a pre-conceived idea of who you are as the leader. Honestly, this hurt my feelings. But, I had no time to feel sorry for myself. We had other things to do. I had to remember I was not there to make friends. I was there to make the organization successful. That does not mean I did not make friends. I met many of my lifelong, dearest friends at hospitals I have lead. But my primary assignment was to lead the hospital to success. Also, you must always be fair with those who talk about you and spread lies or rumors. That does not mean you cannot confront them, you can. But you must be fair, honest and open.
Ego. A leader with an out of control ego can be a dangerous thing. That does not mean we aren’t sometimes confident and even a little cocky about what our team can accomplish. But we can never take the glory for organizational accomplishments, and we can never blame others for organizational mishaps. Those are our problems.
Finally, “Every problem is a Leadership problem.” Stop and roll that over in your mind for a minute. If one of your staff commits an error, it is your (the leader) error. They report to you and you should have seen it coming. Also, while leaders are to be fair with everyone, leadership is almost never fair to leaders. Often football leaders (head coaches) are fired because of one player making one mistake at an inopportune time. Fair? No! The way it is? Yes!
So, will there ever be a shortage of head football coaches? I don’t think so. Will there ever be a shortage of those willing to take on the rigors of hospital leadership? No. Why? Because we have been offered the opportunity to make a difference in many lives. We have the chance to change culture and lead our hospitals to greatness. Great leadership requires sacrifice–sometimes of our ego and our feelings but leading a hospital out of the red or bringing along new leaders is all worth it. But we must be committed first to the success of our organization.