In a business that today is filled with uncertainty, the one sure thing in healthcare is that we will experience a series of major changes over the next 10 years.
Leaders who are uncomfortable with change are in for unsettling times. Leaders who dig in their heels to resist change should probably consider updating their resumes and their LinkedIn profiles.
Here is a story to illustrate what I mean. In the late 1980s, when a major national supply chain company unveiled their vision for the use of barcoding in the supply chain to a group of executives of a Texas teaching hospital, there was a lot of derision, and a surprising amount of pushback occurred. Actually, it was more like a full-throated, angry shove back. That this technology had the potential to improve charge capture and enhance patient safety was rudely dismissed as unworkable and too costly. The two presenters were chastised during the break and the meeting planner was berated for wasting the team’s time with this fantasy, something that would never happen in their lifetime.
Today, this band of supremely confident dissenters is still alive but none are working in hospitals. They were long ago pushed aside by others who were willing to consider new ideas and embrace change.
While that is but one anecdotal example of executive resistance to change, in more than 20 years of executive recruiting I have heard many more stories, some even more spectacular than my example.
Unlike the 1980s, change in this decade will come much more rapidly. There will be fewer margins for error for those whose discomfort with change cause them to dig in their heels, or simply wait it out to see what happens.
The fact is that every executive has strengths and weaknesses, although far too many are loathe to acknowledging the latter. The irony here is that strengths, taken to an extreme, become weaknesses.
An executive who is supremely confident in his or her vision of the future, to the point they are not willing to weigh the competing ideas and opinions of others, could easily find themselves on the wrong side of the continuum of change.
Going forward, some of the most successful executives will be those who are willing to solicit the expertise and insight of an outside coach who can serve as a sounding board, not so much for the efficacy of the ideas at hand, but the thought processes that are used in accepting or rejecting them. Being a CEO can be a very lonely job, and having a leadership coach to challenge ideas is a smart idea.
Today, more than any other time in healthcare, one can never tell when an outlandish sounding new approach, or some revolutionary technology, will become tomorrows – or next year’s — best practice.
© 2021 John Gregory Self