What makes a great leader? According to leadership expert Jim Collins, the most important attributes are personal humility and professional resolve. As author of the bestseller Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t, Jim has spent 25 years researching the topic of leadership. His most recent book, Great by Choice, explores the leadership behaviors necessary to help organizations thrive in an environment of turbulence, disruption and dramatic change. That description will certainly sound familiar to healthcare leaders!
As Chief Nursing Officer at Voalte, I am blessed to have the opportunity to visit healthcare organizations at a time when they are undergoing dramatic change. Some are opening a new facility or patient tower; others are implementing a site-wide technology upgrade; and almost all are working to meet government mandates for patient safety, use of electronic medical records, and of course improving the experience for both patients and staff. In these challenging times, I have observed that great leaders not only shine, but encourage and enable their teams to shine as well.
My dear friend, Stephanie Reid, RN, BSN, MBA, MHA, is VP of Quality and Chief Nursing Officer of Carroll Hospital in Westminster, Maryland. Stephanie oversees the 193-bed hospital’s quality initiatives and nursing practices, and currently plays a leading role in upgrading a legacy communication system to a smartphone solution. Stephanie has a warm, calm and humble demeanor that encourages people to share new ideas. She is a great leader and a tremendous advocate for her entire hospital.
Another great leader I’ve been privileged to see in action is Joe Bengfort, Chief Information Officer of UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay. Joe impressed me on the first day I met him, when I heard him say, “If there is anything you think isn’t working, I want to know about it. I am here to help.”
At the time, UCSF Medical Center was planning to open a new $1.5 billion, three-building hospital complex in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood. In the face of the extraordinary challenges inherent in a project of this scope, Joe blended genuine humility with intense resolve by frequently sitting down with nursing leaders, systems managers and technology vendors. He calmly listened to their needs, and ensured that they understood and were engaged in the organization’s vision. I was struck by Joe’s thoughtful, warm approach to leadership, which influences the organizational culture in a way that is perpetuated by his management team so that it impacts the entire staff.
(Read how UCSF implemented a new alarm-management system in a paper by Kevin Spolini, RN, MSN, Clinical Informatics at UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay.)
When major projects present you with major challenges, take the time to identify and connect with the formal and informal leaders at your organization. With a humble approach and steadfast resolve, you will not only be a great leader, but create other leaders as well.
Candace Smith, MPA, RN, NEA-BC, is Chief Nursing Officer at Voalte.