|Leadership: The Road Less Traveled|
|Sally Belles, MBA-HCM, RDN, CDE|
There is no one path to leadership and when it comes to professional success, there has never been a single road that gets us there. No one single playbook exists nor is one career strategy more effective than another. Leaders come in all forms and from many places including sports, business, government and healthcare. This is one of a series of articles that will highlight the leadership journey, the road less traveled. We will hear from successful leaders in healthcare and their personal stories of their leadership journey.
Merriam-Webster defines leadership as “the office or position of a leader, the power or capacity to lead, and the act or an instance of leading”. Wikipedia defines leadership as “both an area of research and a practical skill set encompassing the ability of a person or an organization to lead or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organizations.” Leadership in business is often described as a function or the activity of leading individuals, a group of people, or an organization or the ability to do so.
Leadership means different things across different organizations. It often involves getting comfortable with discomfort, taking risks, embracing and managing change, creating a sense of urgency around a vision, self-reflection, self-awareness, constant questioning around how things could be done differently and or better, creating excitement around great ideas and potential opportunities, clear communication of the goal, and overcoming enough fear of failure to innovate. Elon Musk, I’m certain fits the bill. Many dream of achieving great things. We all crave visionary leadership, the kind the founder of PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX, Musk exemplifies. I can almost imagine his outlook on life and self. A quote comes to mind:
“Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless” – Jamie Paolinetti
Everyone has the opportunity to exercise leadership on a daily basis. Opportunities continually present themselves in our lives and in the workplace. Bridging individuals with collective talents helps to create high-performing teams with the potential to form powerful coalitions that drive change. Although senior executives are responsible for the vision and strategies to affect the change necessary to achieve that vision, employees at all levels have a role to play. The key is a belief in the vision and an unwavering trust in the organization they work for. A clear communication of the vision and mission of an organization is essential as well as creating a culture in which employees are empowered and encouraged to share ideas, make decisions and lead efforts directed at achieving the change required so the vision is realized. Guiding employees to connect the dots on the importance of the individual work, the team effort and collaboration which resulted in the desired outcomes is the product of effective communication up and down all levels of the organization. Which brings me back to the topic of belief and trust. Successful, collaborative relationships are built on effective and frequent communication.
Marshall Goldsmith, Ph.D. has important advice for continued success for leaders and leaders to be. In his best-selling book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful”, Goldsmith highlights derailers to watch out for: making excuses, negativity, destructive comments, failing to recognize others; and my personal favorite, not listening (Goldsmith, 2007) 1. Though not exhaustive, the list commands the attention of all leaders and across all teams responsible for driving change through influencing others. Celebrate success and recognize “informal leaders”, those who are highly engaged and charge full steam ahead. Let them fly with enough air time and room to produce outputs, as well as to develop and grow professionally. These informal leaders are your potential “future leaders”. Give and nurture confidence freely, then watch belief and trust grow. Leaders who listen and communicate effectively create space for great ideas, great work, and great future leaders to emerge. We may learn a few things when we exercise silent leadership. Goldsmith writes, “Successful people become great leaders when they learn to shift the focus from themselves to others” (Goldsmith, 2007)1. Early influences and leadership lessons all play into how one develops his/her leadership style. After all leadership is a journey that involves and is dependent on relationships.
Stay tuned to hear from the Hawaii-Pacific Chapter's foremost CEO's as they share keen insights about how they became even more successful. They will provide practical, helpful advice and impart relevant lessons learned.
1. Goldsmith, M. (2007). What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful. 1st Edition, Hyperion Books.