Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Are you Blind to the Truth?

Over the last eleven years, I have often said that if we are to develop action plans to mitigate the challenges on our Journey to Excellence, we must always seek the truth regarding the challenges we face.

Therefore, I believe that it is important not to be surrounded by a senior team that is loyal to a fault (i.e., people that want to tell you what you want to hear, and not what you need to hear), and why I think it is important to encourage “professional backtalking” among all our leadership groups. This is also why “the ability to have robust discussions” was identified as a critical success factor in creating outstanding teamwork in the teaming exercises completed by leaders in our regions and business units this fiscal year.

All of these messages came clearly in view recently as I read an article in the May/June 2010 edition of CEO Magazine. Entitled, “Are You Blind to the Truth?”, this article articulates “seven strategies for ferreting out critical feedback you’re not getting.” Although these strategies are not new, they are certainly worth a review and some reflection.

They remind us that, as leaders of regions and business units, we are seen as a base of power, and, “in the presence of power, even well meaning people edit themselves.” The article also stresses the importance of getting out of your office, which is clearly visible as we stress the critical nature of daily rounding to our leaders in order to bring about a multitude of operational successes.

There are some moments, while reflecting in my office, that I reaffirm that in CHRISTUS, where we have challenges, we either still do not have the right people in place, or we do not know the truth about the situation. It occurs to me that this could be the case we are facing with some of our current challenges in our patient satisfaction scores, a critical piece of our directions to excellence. Do our Associates feel safe in speaking up? Could our Associates identify their local leadership teams if they saw them? What do they see when they see these groups coming down the hall? Are our leadership teams “talking the talk,” or are they “walking the walk?”

I am confident that our answers to these questions as we lead this scared ministry are mostly positive. But to ensure that someday we will all reach the top of the mountain on our Journey to Excellence, these obvious strategies are worth reviewing, and the questions posed are worth asking periodically. Answering the call to serve in CHRISTUS Health is both an awesome responsibility and privilege, and I continue to be honored to serve as our ministry’s team leader.

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