Management and Leadership Relevance in Times of Change

By: Jeff Cowart, MAH | jcowart@barlowmccarthy.com

“Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.”  – Bill Bradley

We hear a great deal these days about the rapidly changing healthcare landscape and the call for managers and leaders to be great innovators and masters of adaptation. But, the reality is our personal reputation and success as managers and leaders is defined by the aggregate performance of our team members. In the organizational leadership and management coaching that we do frequently, we often hear, “My team is just not as good as I need it to be.”

When we hear that, we often ask the leader or manager to spend some time of reflection looking in the mirror at themselves. The key question for meditation is: “How relevant am I to the performance of my team?”

As leaders and managers, it is easy to become distracted from the team/people role given the seemingly relentless demands of the organization for data, reporting, and ROI calculations. The job can unconsciously devolve into numbers rather than individual performance. If this is happening to you, here a few things to consider:

  • Meaningful Work – Over time, surveys have shown that a sense of meaning in an individual’s work is one of the two most powerful motivators of performance. People, your team members, want to feel that their contribution is bigger than just the numbers. As a manager or leader, can you articulate why your team’s work is important beyond staying employed, getting a paycheck and hitting a target? Can your team articulate it?
  • Sense of Self-Worth – The second most important motivator is an individual’s personal satisfaction with the work. This means they need to feel relevant to the team and to the organization. Relevancy requires quality feedback. How well do you as a manager or leader communicate an individual’s value to the team and the organization?
  • Expectation – Whether we are giving a single assignment or laying out global expectations, the leader or manager must 1) clearly articulate the mission; 2) provide explanation of why it is important; 3) give clear timelines and deadlines; and, 4) explain clearly how the performance will be evaluated. This is how an individual team member benchmarks their own sense of relevancy.
  • Respect – Starting meetings late, free-forming meetings without an agenda, failure to plan in advance, frequently changing directions and blaming it on the lack of focus within the organization – these are all signs that we don’t respect an individual’s time. And time, in today’s organization, is one of the most precious assets. There are many avenues of work in the area of respect, but for too often the manager or leader fails to put enough focus on the seemingly mundane elements of work that can help undermine an individual’s relevancy index.

The bottom line is a leader or manager’s relevancy to the organization is only as strong as the reputation of the team that they lead or manage. Whether we are hitting the numbers or not hitting the numbers, the leader or manager is crafting their own personal identity in the way they manage or lead their team.

If you find yourself thinking, “I wish I had a better team,” the first step in the review might be the seemingly little things that you do to grow or diminish the individual’s relevancy index on the team and within the organization.