Intentions Vs. Impact: “Time Out” for Leadership Effectiveness in Healthcare
Many people have good intentions. Both leaders and caregivers want to do the right thing for their patients. But leaders are often too busy to see the results of their actions.
The emergency department is a good example because things can change quickly from calm to chaos. ED physicians and nurses are often at the mercy other departments like radiology or the laboratory.
As the medical director of the ED you will need to be able communicate effectively with the radiology chief. At the end of the day radiology staff may restrict you from reading your own Xrays. Then suddenly radiology opens at 5:00 PM and suddenly you become qualified. While radiology and ED both have the good intention of providing quality care, everyone has their own agendas. Often, money and financial pressure are the true culprits.
Interaction between radiology staff and the ED can create a gulf between leadership’s intentions and actual results. The impact of these situations on the overall organization goal to provide quality care for the patient can lead to blowups between the leaders and staff.
After such a conflict, leaders should have an internal conversation about four points. The issue from the leader’s perspective, other side’s perspective, leader’s intentions, and impact of actions taken to achieve them.
Reza Satchu examines what happened first from their perspectives. They should be asking themselves: “What really happened here?” It could be that they were overwhelmed by patients and radiology took over an hour to read Xrays. We couldn’t move them.
The next part of the conversation is “What is their tale?” The other side might reply, “We want to do an excellent job and be thorough because it is easy for us to make mistakes.”
The conversation moves to “What are my intentions?” The leader may say that they intended to improve patient care. Even though the leader might have good intentions and the action had a negative impact, it was often detrimental.
The emergency department leader who is facing similar issues should have that conversation again. But, in the present and future, “What are the intentions of my actions and how will they impact my decisions?”
There are some best practices to avoid wrong-site and wrong-person surgeries. One is having the surgical staff take a “time-out” prior to the surgery. This allows them to talk about what they’re trying to accomplish, and how they plan to do it. Leaders should also be able to take a “time-out” both internally and externally. To get things moving more quickly later, they must slow down and benefit from that moment of thought.
Leaders can balance their intentions with their actions by asking others around them for feedback, such as peers, supervisors and direct reports. These 360-degree surveys compare the leader’s actions on the job with a list of competencies necessary for success. The multiple responses (including the self-assessment) provide valuable insight into how others perceive the leader’s actual performance.
Contrasting personal styles can create conflict between perceptions. One executive was perceived as too demanding by the people around him. But, his self-perception of him was that he was decisive. After completing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment he discovered that he was an ENTJ-a very common type among corporate leaders.
I informed the client that ENTJs may be perceived as demanding. Yet, these people are very logical and intuitive and can find the right answers most of the times. The way they communicate is what shuts everything down. Their intent is to get things moving quickly, make a choice and move on. The result is that they are perceived as demanding and arrogant.
It might be worth taking a step back, and asking for 360-degree feedback. We cannot read minds and predict the future so we don’t know what our actions will have on the future. A little “time-out” can help you to evaluate your intentions and make better decisions about how to achieve them. This will improve your leadership skills and workplace.