Effective leadership skills are best developed through direct experiences. However, in today’s dynamic healthcare ecosystem, even the most confident CEOs are drawing added inspiration from personal and professional mentors.
Getting ahead of the competition is one of the primary goals that executives have in mind when they reach out for professional mentoring, according to Linda Henman, PhD, author and executive coach. She believes the realities of market competition often guide the overall leadership strategy, even among not-for-profit organizations.
In other words, those focused on a mission need a healthy margin to support the ongoing fulfillment of that mission. Meanwhile, the for-profits, with their focus on revenue targets, also need to be driven by a greater good, such as building a healthy community.
Organizations should define their culture by defining their passions, Henman says.
“People talk about culture as if it were only tied to tradition, but that’s an outdated way of thinking that just doesn’t work today,” she says. “Traditions are important, but they’re not the reason you’re going to be successful.”
Leadership as a team sport
Executives must evaluate who is making strategic decisions within the company, what decisions they’re making and why. Many boardrooms would be surprised to find out where the practical decision-making authority actually lies and how it affects the business, Henman says.
For example, Henman once advised a rural provider that was struggling with claim denials. As it turned out, the physicians weren’t coding correctly, resulting in ongoing rejections and lost reimbursement, impacting as much as $10 million in revenue. But administrative employees didn’t think it was acceptable to challenge physician leadership, much less company executives.
“The CEO had created a culture of fear,” she says. “No one wanted to bring him bad news.”
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Only the CEO could make the decision on how the company would hold physicians accountable for proper coding. Henman says the situation could have been avoided if the corporate culture had allowed for open discussion, rather than autocratic leadership.
“Many executives have trouble changing the culture because it seems like giving up power,” she says. “In reality, they’re gaining power that way.”
She recommends that executives create a culture that allows the business to innovate. Leaders should focus on a mission, be open to learning and act as agents of change within the organization.
Managed Healthcare Executive recently asked several healthcare decision makers to identify personal or professional mentors who have inspired them in their careers. Executives seem to agree that the best mentors are those who provide honest feedback, instill confidence, and persist in pursuing their goals.