Many times, employees are not only looking for performance feedback, but a “life coach” as well. And in the workplace, these employees are looking for leaders who help them succeed by empowering them and removing barriers. This type of empathic servant leadership will be a valuable and effective skill not only with this newly minted cohort of employees, but for the entire workforce. The ability to understand, relate to, and be sensitive to employees’ changing needs will be critical for the long-term success of any company. That means creating an inclusive, flexible, and empathetic workplace for all.
3. An outside-in view: Challenge yourself to think customer first
Customer-centric thinking is critical and needs to be a well-developed skill. Consumer demands and preferences will continue to drive healthcare’s evolution; we know expectations are rising. The best industry leaders will anticipate evolving consumer needs and the growing demand for more virtual solutions.
For example, as one Forbes prediction notes, nearly half of the U.S. workforce could be participating in the gig economy by 2020. They will certainly have different expectations and healthcare demands than workers in traditional roles. Beyond the consumer role, we know that technology advances will also shape the experience. Things like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and intelligent automation are becoming increasingly ubiquitous and will shape next-generation customer experiences within healthcare.
These are simply examples: we will only be effective leaders if we listen to our customers and design solutions that work for them on their terms, meeting them where they are. The best customer-empowered leaders take the time to talk to customers, listen carefully, take their feedback unvarnished, and orient products and services accordingly.
Related article: Seven Tactics to Create a Lifetime Healthcare Consumer
Thousands of years ago, Aristotle said leadership is about ethics and action. This is as true today as it was back then. Being an effective leader is not complicated; for me, it always comes down to acting on the three basic concepts I outlined above—developing yourself, focusing on your talent, and being relentless about tuning into the customer. By focusing on these areas, emerging leaders can acquire the skills and mindset needed to manage today’s opportunities, anticipate future needs, and lead their organizations to success.
Mark Boxer, PhD, is executive vice president and global chief information officer for Cigna, where he is responsible for driving the company’s worldwide technology strategy.