By Michael J. Reiswig, FACHE
Sometimes the rigors of being an adult and the chaos of life which we attempt to put order in each day can seem endless and frustrating. Being an adult, which we all strived to become as children, isn’t as rosy as we believed when we were younger. I am sure any reader of this article will agree there are days we all seem to be moving back into the chaos. The same applies to organizational leaders who take on significant loads of responsibilities toward customers, employees, and stakeholders. Like life itself, a business can be chaotic, and all our attempts to inject order feels like pushing a rope, herding cats or otherwise, impossible to gain traction to reach the desired destination.
As a leader of an organization, significant challenges can bring the distractions and moments of forgetfulness on the basics of best management practices. Over the past 18 months, I have attempted to create order out of chaos in the healthcare industry and patients we serve. It has been a long and complicated path toward solving a company problem through relationships and working outside the box. That process was/has been a painful one, both for me as well as my co-leaders and managers who work tirelessly to succeed. There were many days where we all felt we made good progress while other days we took steps back.
Several months ago, at our religiously scheduled long and deep dive monthly management meeting, one of our long-time managers took me aside and told me that her 4-year old daughter asked how “The President” was doing. She told her that he was stressed, working hard and trying to solve a big problem at work. Many months earlier, I had the opportunity to talk to my manager’s 4-year old when she picked up her mother’s cell phone when I called. Our discussion was pleasant. I asked her how school was, was she happy and was she the smartest student in her class. I edified her and tried to make her feel special. I told her she was just like her mother, extremely talented and smart! She later confided in her mother that she was thrilled to be talking to “The President.”
All meetings in our company, including this particular management meeting, begin with a required personal update time. The purpose is to bond and build trust among the attendees by knowing each other beyond that of a co-worker. My manager then opened our management meeting by reaching into a bag and presented me a simple drawing nicely framed by her 4-year old. She explained that her daughter wanted me to have this after learning of our difficult problem I was attempting to solve. At her daughter’s insistence, she wanted me to display her framed message on my desk as a daily reminder, “YOU CAN DO IT.” The best part is the message itself is enclosed within a heart, a symbol of caring and love. This expression took my breath away, my co-managers began to clap, and what was going to be a difficult, long, laborious meeting turned into a small celebration. Not only did my confidence immediately rise, so did everyone’s in attendance. I said to our attendees, each of you share in this message! WE CAN DO IT!
This week, the problem our team has worked on tirelessly, achieved a critical level of success unheard of in our niche industry. This achievement will forever positively impact our organization and employees. Believing and communicating in one’s self as well as your co-leaders is a vital element of effective leadership. Edifying others, with compassion and love that they can be successful, is just another reminder as leaders how valuable a positive mindset can be, even in the direst situations.
The lesson here in our lives or business is never doubt yourself. Always encourage and edify those facing a challenge including your co-leaders and managers. Consistently put that message within a perspective of support, love, and compassion, show them that you sincerely care. Finally, never dismiss those who have a clear understanding of your problem, even if they are four years old. They know more than you think.