As the GOP convention begins in Cleveland today it is probably important to revisit some rules of the road for senior executives in what may become one of the most heated, vitriolic Presidential campaigns in modern history.
It begins with a central question:
What is more important — your strongly held political views and your corresponding right to freedom of speech, or your image as a thoughtful executive who respects his or her employees, a leader who keeps the team focused on the patients?
For some, that is a tough question.
For Charles, it begins and ends with respect — respect for his employees who may disagree with his political points of view. I think his approach is especially important if strong racial overtones, already present in the political discourse, escalate with crude hurtful cartoons and rhetoric that crosses the line of acceptable debate.
Charles is no namby-pamby when it comes to articulating his position — he is well read, he has done his homework, and he has thoughtfully considered alternative viewpoints, a rarity for most people when deciding who they will support and why. He eschews bumper stickers, political contributions or any other public displays or comments. “I am like the Pastor of a large church with a diverse congregation. I stay focused on my priorities at hand. It is hard for me to cool souls rankled by heated political disputes if I am seen as a vocal partisan.
“That my hospital is owned by the public makes it important that I am a uniter, not a divider. I have my beliefs, they are probably not what most people assume they are, and I will vote my convictions based on what I think is right for our country and my chosen profession. But until I stand before that machine, I do not like to publicly take sides.
“I do truly respect my employees, our physicians and our patients. The board hired me to run this very complex and diverse organization, not alienate half my team, most of my physicians and a significant portion of my employees.”
Then there is the CEO of a large hospital who insists, firmly and consistently, that all the 20 or more flat-screen televisions in the public areas of the hospital be tuned to a specific news station. No exceptions. His weekly department manager meetings during election cycles are peppered with his opinion on who should be elected and what issues should be supported, and he encourages his employees to “do the right thing for the country.”
There is no question that he deeply believes in his point of view. He is wonderfully patriotic and a former military officer with a distinguished career, but his employees, forty percent African-American, Hispanic and Asian, are clearly uneasy with his political posturing, said a former senior executive who left to take a better position at a larger hospital. Behind the scenes, the executive said, this CEO, was not respectful of his employees’ personal political beliefs. “When you say things like ‘do what is best for your country and your job,’ well, that creates a sense of unease.”
The truth is that for many who have carefully thought out political beliefs, attacking them, denigrating their point of view, is disconcerting, even hurtful.
I believe that in a campaign season that is anything but routine, anything but normal, following a course of respect for those employees who disagree with our perspective is the best route.
And, as a reminder, Facebook is not private. Political cartoons or comments that may evoke negative stereotypes, are probably not a good idea. For those who insist on exercising free speech rights on LinkedIn, please understand there are career brand consequences, especially for those who like to shout the “truth,” and sympathize (Read: condescend) with those who do not share their point of view. Besides, LinkedIn was created for professional networking, not political propaganda.
That was said with respect, by the way.
Medical Staff, Hospital Alignment
When the hospital and the medical staff are not aligned, that is a big, very big first step in the deterioration of healthcare in a rural and small community. Being on the same page — the hospital’s leadership team the governing board and the medical staff is absolutely critical.
To ignore these issues is akin to nailing the lid on a coffin, business-wise. Solving this challenge is not easy. Ignoring the fact that this type of conflict is potentially fatal, is detrimental to the community and its local economy.
Our team is experienced in solving these types of problems. Our practice leader is someone physicians trust who possesses the ability to find common ground.
We can help you preserve your community’s most valuable asset — the hospital. We have a record of success.
For more information, call John Self or Laura Merker, Dr. PH, RN. We can help you build strong working relationships.
Healthcare is all about the people.
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