Thursday, December 14, 2017

That Time of Year

With 2017 coming to a close and 2018 just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to talk about setting professional leadership goals. As with anything, having a road map to guide you makes your route clearer. So, think about goal setting as a way to map out - in broad strokes - your path for the year ahead.

While I am sure that you are swamped with wrapping up year-end projects, and setting goals might be the last thing on your list, I encourage you to carve out the time to make it happen. Not only will it get you pumped up for next year, it will help refocus you on the tasks at hand.

As you begin to think about what you would like to accomplish, I suggest first spending some undisturbed time reflecting on the what has transpired over the course of the last year and prioritizing what is most important for you to achieve in the months ahead.

You will want to be both realistic and aspirational in your goal setting. I recommend choosing no more than six goals - four that you feel you can attain with the right amount of work and attention (don’t choose ones that you can phone in) and two that are a stretch. This will allow you to hone in on what you really want and need to get done, while providing a bit of space for you to increase your capacity and to challenge yourself.

I realize that sometimes the toughest part of the goal setting is not the work attaining the goals, but deciding on the goals themselves. Here are a few tips that will help provide a framework for goal selection:

  1. Set goals that are influenced by what you experienced the previous year. Build on what you have learned and take things to the next level.
  2. Seek the advice of others. Meet with a colleague or mentor and ask them to help coach you on developing your list for 2018.
  3. Ask yourself, “and then what?” What will be achieved by accomplishing this goal? What will it allow me to do?
  4. Use this as a time to work on a problem area. Think about a blind spot or an area on which you can improve and set a goal that addresses that issue.

Finally, and most importantly, share your goals with others. Let your team and your colleagues know what you are working towards achieving in the year ahead. This will allow them to not only push you, but having their buy in will prove invaluable.

The dawn of 2018 provides the perfect opportunity to set your course for the new year. Get to work on the four to six things you want to accomplish over the next year. Think about how great it will feel in December, when you are able to look back and celebrate all you have accomplished.

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2018!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Balancing Act

As I approach my three-month anniversary at Tampa General Hospital, I have barely had any time to take a breath and reflect on my new role. In many ways, it feels like I have been here for years, but in others, it seems like I am just in my first week.  You see, I have divided my time between immersing myself in the organization—listening and learning—and diving in to solve problems, facing the challenges head on.

You might recall, back when I first announced my move toTampa,  I discussed my first priority on arrival was to spend a significant amount of time listening. My goal was to listen to team members, to physicians, to patients and community members and to learn from them. I wanted to immerse myself in all levels of the organization and in its culture in order to truly understand all aspects of the hospital from its successes to its challenges. As I stated back then, I believe wholeheartedly that in order to lead effectively you must listen and learn.

To a large extent, I have been able to spend my time as planned. I have been rounding, spending time with transport, in ICU, in the main operating suite, on the oncology floor and more, working alongside our nurses, techs and entire team. I have been focused on working my way through the hospital, listening, observing and learning. I have learned so much in the short amount of time I have been part of the TGH team and am more impressed than ever with the dedication and talent of my team, our physicians, our board members and our community as they come together to deliver world-class health care to the region.

But like many things in life, this job is a balancing act—developing a team and helping to shape an organization while bobbing and weaving through the challenges and day to day issues that arise. I have come to realize that it is not only through listening but also managing the new issues and challenges that come up each day, that I learn just as much about the organization—the intricacies and nuances of a complex hospital system as well as about my team—their capabilities, their approach to their work and their colleagues. The last three months have taught me to see every moment as a learning experience, and appreciate the blend of working alongside the team and managing from the helm. This has allowed for a 360-degree view of the organization.

So when in your career and you find yourself taking on a new role, it is good to listen and soak up as much as you can from day one. Get insight and perspective from your colleagues and sit back, when appropriate, and hear what they have to say.  But I have learned it is also just as valuable to get in the thick of things as soon as you can and work with your team on moving the ball forward. In other words, some days you will need to wade into the water and splash around and other days you will need to dive in and swim as fast as you can.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Here’s to Health and Happiness

As the old saying goes,” do as I say, not as I do.” When it comes to balancing work and a healthy lifestyle, this saying is certainly applicable to me. As much as I would like to have a fair balance of managing work, a healthy diet, exercise and time with family and friends, it has always been a challenge. I realize how critical maintaining this balance is to both happiness and success so although the new job and move have put me a bit off course, I am working my way to that path.

As leaders, we have the opportunity to create positive and supportive environments that build and promote team members health and well-being. It is important to not only encourage our team members professional development, but also support their personal and emotional health. It is a no brainer that happy and healthy employees are more productive, more loyal and support a positive bottom line.

Here are a few tips on how to foster this type of environment and promote a culture that supports its team members health and well-being:

Be calm and carry on: stress cannot only wreak havoc on your health but it can interfere with work performance and productivity. Lead by example and work on your own stress level. Take a vacation and/or a day off now and again and encourage your team to do the same.

Keep moving: encourage your employees to move about throughout the day. Instead of sitting in one-on-one conferences, take a walk around the building or campus as you talk through the issues at hand. Promote exercise by allowing employees to work it into their day, when possible. At Tampa General, our approach is to provide outlets for movement as part of our employee benefits. For example, we provide access to yoga, stretching classes, cycling and more.

Make it a teachable moment: offer classes on site from yoga to meditation to nutrition. Access to information and the tools to live healthier can be an incredibly effective way to engage and encourage team members.

Get off the bench: lead by example and participate in healthy living initiatives in your organization. You will not only feel better and more productive, but it will inspire your team members to do the same.

As I work to find more of a healthy balance in my own life and designate some time to nurture my own physical and mental health, and deploy these tactics within my own team, I encourage other managers to do the same. Not only will we feel more focused and on track, we can help shape our team members’ well-being and create a more positive, productive and happy environment.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hiring Smart

As leaders, hiring good people can be the most difficult aspect of our jobs. However, good hiring decisions can also yield the most reward. When looking to hire folks for your team, it is important to not only consider a candidate’s skill set and prior experience, but also what they can bring to your team as far as IQ and emotional intelligence.

I know some managers who like to surround themselves with yes folks - those who are just going to tell them what they like to hear and simply carry out orders given from on high. From my perspective, my success and that of my team is a result of having team members who challenge assumptions or dismantle the, “but that is how we do it here” refrain in order to get to the best possible result. I have seen that the top performing team members are those who possess the confidence to challenge the status quo, think strategically and speak up in order to put the success of the organization at the front of every decision.

When looking to hire new team members, I am drawn to innovators. These are folks who can look at a challenge in front of them, analyze and synthesize the necessary information, and come up with a plan of attack in order to create something new, exciting and profitable for the organization. Simply put, they are willing to try new things. This is in contrast to team members who operate from a place of “no” and are the first to give you five reasons why something cannot be done. I like people who say, “why not?”

As we have discussed in previous posts, office politics and the emotional needs of team members and colleagues can take up a lot of time and energy and be dispiriting for all folks involved. And so, when casting for new team members, I like to onboard folks whom I feel will stay above the fray and not get embroiled in organizational politics. For them, the top priority is a job well-done and one that supports the organization as a whole, rather than their own personal advancement.

But hiring smart, innovative people is only half of the equation. Keeping them engaged and their skills sharp requires work. The best way to foster this type of focus and dedication is to really get to know your team members. This is done by developing lasting and meaningful relationships with them. Listen to them, find out their passions and concerns, and understand how they envision their professional growth and development. This will deepen your bond and breed loyalty. The best team members are often the most creative, and providing them with additional outlets to shine will drive them even further and make them even more valuable.

The key to leading a successful organization is developing a team that enables members to contribute to the best of their ability. By surrounding yourself with smart and driven folks, who are able to be just that - smart and driven - you will develop a culture that yields a great deal of success.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Let Go of That Ego

We all have egos. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t and there is certainly a bit of ego in everything we do. Yet egos, especially those in overdrive, can be the biggest barrier to both leaders and team members working collaboratively and effectively.

Why do some people have trouble putting their egos aside and place what is best for their organizations, team members and stakeholders first? That is a difficult question to answer and the answer is certainly not the same for everyone. Egos are related to our need as humans to feel both special and in control at the same time. It is also easy for us to conflate being good at one thing with being good at everything.

Whatever the reason, when leaders let their egos get in the way, they begin to put themselves first. Their agenda, their status, their success and their gratification comes before everything and everyone else—especially their colleagues, those who are affected by their ideas and actions. In today’s work environment, where we must all work together to meet expectations and garner results, being led by someone who feels the need to be the center of attention can be the kiss of death.

As a leader, it is then critical to remain grounded, check your ego at the door and take constant stock of why you are doing what you are doing. Ask yourself: “are my decisions motivated by ensuring the collective success of my organization rather than my personal gain?”

Here are few tips to keep in mind when working on not letting your ego get in the way:

  • Understand your ego triggers—recognize situations that have caused you to put yourself first.
  • Practice humility and remember that it is team work that makes the dream work.
  • Seek honest feedback from both team members and stakeholders. Provide a space for those you trust and respect to evaluate your leadership.
  • Learn from others and seek out those whose skills you admire and respect.

By keeping your ego in check, modeling humility and putting success of your organization and team at the top of the list, you will increase your value as a leader and inspire others through your example.