Being a good leader isn’t easy, and some days are tougher than others. It is a challenge in itself to make important judgement calls and quick correct decisions.
For me, I find the one of the most challenging aspects of leadership is influencing the facility culture in a positive way. Some days are easy. The schedule is manageable, the facility is well staffed, the weather is good, and whatever else leads to those days when you feel like you are coaching the winning team, and your focus can be on the task list.
Then there are those other days. Staff has called off last minute so you are short, the schedule is challenge, and even the most positive staff members are grumbling a bit. It’s easy to allow the culture to impact the tone of the day, and takes effort to make the day run well.
If you are like me, there are those days when you know it could have gone better, and there are the others where you end the day feeling like you have hit it out of the park.
Here are some thoughts from the winning days and what has worked.
- Proactivity. Start the day with a quick gathering and a review of the game plan, acknowledging the challenges. Puts everyone on the same page, and sets the tone. It also shows the team that you get the day may be rough, but you are all in it together, and promotes a “winning” approach from the start.
- Communication. Although key every day, effective communication will make a challenging day go much better. Get information as it occurs to everyone who needs to know as soon as possible, and make sure they know to do the same.
- Humor. Even the most challenging days go better with a little appropriate humor. It also helps diffuse any brewing negativity.
- Be the traffic cop. Anticipate ways the day can go more efficiently, and really help manage the schedule. Even if you have a superstar doing it all the time, providing collaborative assistance on a challenging day can be key. Being proactive as to what case goes where, when and by whom can really add up. The same goes for break and lunch planning. Saving 5-10 minutes over the day could mean everyone goes home earlier than anticipated.
- Be turnover help. On crazy busy days, I ignore the task list unless absolutely critical and assist with turnover as much as possible. Not only does the day go faster and smoother, the staff get that you are in it with them and that you care.
- Remember to show your gratitude. On challenging days, it is easy to be so busy you forget to say “thank you”. Acknowledging great effort as it happens and as the day is done speaks volumes.
- Smile. Or thumbs up when your mask is on. Or fist bump when you hit that home run. It will get the message through loud and clear.
When the day is done, the count is correct, the patients are all discharged, and the staff has gone home, take a moment to reflect on the winning day, and congratulate yourself. We don’t hit it out of the park every day, and when we do, it’s important to reflect on the outcome.