We can view leadership in several ways: It impacts the development of patient safety issues in health care. It affects the dynamics of the staff in a law firm. It affects our businesses.
Leadership in health care
Sometimes in the process of working on a medical malpractice case it becomes clear that there are employees who should have been identified as needing more training, to be disciplined or to be supported in a different way. But their leader was inadequate and that resulted in injury. It can have some huge personal and direct consequences of not being an effective leader.
Health care is changing. Bullying is an issue in health care between nurses-to-nurses, physicians-to-nurses and physicians-to-physicians. (Get more tips on the impact of bullying by listening to LNP 30 by Dr. Renee Thompson.) There’s a lot more awareness now about the importance of treating each other with respect, of not being demeaning because of the consequences that flow from that type of behavior.
Where that becomes critical in the world that we reside in is that a person might be a good clinician, gets promoted and put in a leadership position in the healthcare industry but does not have the appropriate support and training to learn how to be a good leader. Then people underneath that leader flounder. When the leader flounders patients can get injured and that leads to medical malpractice and to medical malpractice suits.
Leadership in law firms
My attorney clients verified several times that law school prepared them to learn the law, but did not prepare them for starting and running a law firm. There are so many aspects of being a good leader in a law firm. One of them is the flow of communication. A client invited me to his weekly staff meeting. He and his partners sat at one end of the room and his employees were in rows lined up facing them. I wondered how the dynamics would change if they sat in a circle. This attorney often had problems with his employees.
Strong attorney leaders manage their businesses efficiently and with a minimum of turnover. The biggest myth in my opinion is “People are born leaders”. I don’t think that’s true. I think that leadership evolves. Leadership happens as a result of being responsible, being consistent and being somebody who’s respected in your world. I don’t think it ever occurred to my client that he had a hierarchical structure in his firm and that there were other options.
Leaders don’t know it all and they’re not fearless. We all have fears whether we are on top of a huge organization and forging new ideas every day or in a time-tested business that has been running for 30 years.
We’re not fearless. We all have fears, anxieties and stress in our life just like everybody else and so leaders can have fear in their life as well. Leadership really is not about power. It’s about understanding. It’s more about leading from the front line rather than leading from an ivory tower.
This attorney client typically had a “do as you are told” perspective. He liked to be in charge and often did not solicit ideas from his employees. His secretaries stayed in their positions not more than a year. They could not keep up with the frantic pace.
Leadership in our business
Leadership is critical because leadership is about relationships. Being a leader in this world today is about listening. You don’t have to be somebody who’s full of personality, charm and charisma. You don’t have to be that charismatic leader. You can be a guy who’s in a glass office as long as you’re leading from the front line, people love you and people respect you. Then you can be really a leader.
You have to be relatable and understand what people are talking about. You have to be somebody who’s willing to be flexible and cooperative and shows interest in your employees and subcontractors.
Strong leadership in health care can fix the holes that lead to patient injury. Strong leaders in law firms can make it a delight to work with them. Strong leadership in your LNC business can make the difference between success and failure.
Listen in as Pat Iyer and Doug Sandler discuss more about clients and leadership on our Legal Nurse Podcast 77.