It's time for the VITAL Physician Executive's Monthly Leadership Favorites May 2017 Edition. In this feature I share inspiring and enlightening advice from respected leaders, generally from outside of healthcare (but not always).

Leadership Favorites May 2017 Edition

This month's favorites follow…

Leadership Through Coaching

Michael Hyatt provides some great advice in 3 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches. In this post, he mentions a book written by Michael Bungay Stanier: The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever.

Michael summarizes how leaders should use coaching to bring out the best in others:

  • Give less advice;
  • Ask questions instead; and,
  • Ask better questions.

leadership favorites may 2017 edition - coaching

I have seen this play out so many times.

Telling direct reports what to do and how to do it, rather than taking the time to coach them to identify their own solutions, definitely stunts their growth as leaders. And it prevents you from being able to delegate important tasks so that you can spend time on deep work in the future.

leadership favorites may 2017 edition

As I described in Unlock Leadership Through Coaching, I am struck by how much coaching can contribute to effective leadership. I have not read Stanier's book yet, but I just ordered it and will let you know if it lives up to Michael Hyatt's accolades.

Becoming a Powerful Decision-Maker

At the other end of the coaching/leadership continuum, there are times when only you can make an important decision, whether as CEO, head of your division, or owner of your practice. The decision is just too big, and the potential consequences too risky, to delegate.

In How Great Leaders Make Quality Decisions, Paul Grau provides a good model to follow when make such decisions.

leadership favorites may 2017 edition - decisiveness

He outlines a straightforward process:

  1. Define your values;
  2. Learn your organizational values;
  3. Find consistencies; and,
  4. Implement decisiveness.

He explains: “Whenever difficult decisions arise, you can simply fall back on your combined set of values. If the decision goes against the values, you automatically know it is a bad decision and you can alter it before making it. Regardless of the outcome, you can always look back at the choice you made with confidence, providing you made it based on the combined set of values you clearly know and understand.”

Our Physicians Are Reaching the Breaking Point

Many of us lead large groups of physicians. We often hear complaints from them. Time with patients is limited. Paperwork is excessive. MACRA requirements are onerous. And none of these recent changes improves patient care.

These concerns are well described by Matthew Hahn in Is It Time For Physicians To Fight Back. Now., posted on KevinMD.

For those of us who have completely withdrawn from clinical medicine (i.e., full-time administrators), it is easy to become insulated from these ever-growing frustrations felt by our physicans. This is especially true if our C-suite comrades make comments like:

  • “Physicians can be such complainers.”
  • “The EMR will eventually improve productivity; it'll just take more time.”
  • “It's no better anywhere else, so they need to get over it.”

I was especially interested in Hahn's article because it not only presented a list of frustrations, but it also brought up a potential ‘solution': organizing and/or unionizing.

I have personally had the same thoughts. I've gone so far as to research the legality of physicians unionizing on behalf of my county medical society. In Illinois, it is very difficult for physicians to unionize. We are considered to be management, even if treated exactly like other employees. And management cannot unionize.

My point is this, however: If our employed physicians are seriously exploring this, then they have reached a breaking point.

As leaders, we should address these issues head on. And we should prepare for the approaching conflicts that will occur as our physicians threaten unionization and other tactics that signal that their patience has ended.

Follow-up on United Airlines Debacle

[VPE Note: Humor ahead]

Last month, I shared some of the reports and commentary regarding the forcible removal (“re-accommodation”) of an elderly physician in my Monthly Leadership Favorites – April Edition.

Scott Adams posted several commentaries and comic strips related to the event. One example is noted below.

leadership favorites may 2017 edition robot news[VPE Note: In order to avoid the accusation of copyright infringement, the above excerpt is from Scott Adams Blog, and represents my attempt to promote his blog to my readers. Check it out at: Scott Adams' Blog.]

Following some additional research, I found commentary that identified The Top 10 Reasons That United is Forcibly Dragging Doctors Off Planes that I have to share with my you. This scholarly article is definitely worth reading. It is a good example of the kind of satire that can be found regularly at GomerBlog.

In a related story, given its skills at removing even reluctant passengers from its airliners, apparently United has been asked to remove certain recalcitrant hospital patients as described in United Airlines Asked to Forcibly Remove Patient From Hospital. This could be the long-awaited solution to avoidable days (aka avoidable delays) that so many hospitals have struggled to eliminate.

In Closing

I think I better stop right there.

I hope you've enjoyed this edition of Monthly Favorites.

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