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

The title of this month's post is a misnomer (the Monthly part), given that I did not post a Favorites list in August. That was intentional.

Since I reduced my posting frequency from twice-weekly to weekly, I did not feel that it was appropriate to use the Favorites format for 25% of my posts. I feel that the Favorites don't have the gravitas of my usual posts. I might be wrong on that – but that's my thinking, so they may be a bit less frequent than before.

Leadership Favorites – September 2017 Edition

This month's favorites follow…

monthly leadership favorites - September 2017 edition email overwhelm

Email Overwhelm

Reading this post by The Productive Physician – Inbox Zero: The Ultimate Guide to Managing Your Email – I was reminded that this might be a good topic to revisit. Managing email can become a daunting task. Somehow, we find ourselves on dozens, if not hundreds, of email lists, and our Inbox may be perpetually clogged.

We may be in the habit of leaving email notifications on, and keeping our email services open during the day. This results in one of the most pervasive forms of distraction and shallow work imaginable. If we want to focus more on Deep Work, email is something we must get under control.

The first stop in our journey to explore possible solutions is Inbox Zero: The Ultimate Guide to Managing Your Email. It is a comprehensive review of every aspect of email management that can be improved, streamlined or eliminated, and includes the following steps:

  1. Eliminate
  2. Consolidate
  3. Delegate
  4. Automate
  5. Process
  6. Be a Good Email Citizen, and,
  7. Close

I won't explain them any further. Rather, I recommend you check out the article. Be prepared to spend a little time there, or review it in pieces, because it's very detailed (the author is kind enough to provide a table of contents along the right margin).

I also appreciate the advice provided by other authors, some of which overlaps with TPP's post. Here are two other productivity experts and their advice, in case you're interested.

Michael Hyatt's Advice

Productivityist's Suggestions

You'll see that some of the tactics are redundant. But if email is your albatross, scan through all of these posts for ideas, write down 2 or 3, implement them over the next week or so and get your email under control!

Are Physicians Better Leaders?

I addressed this issue in my own articles Become a Physician Leader and Save the Profession and Why We Need More Physician Leadership.

But I found the Forbes article Study Shows That Doctors Make Better Hospital Leaders, by Bruce Lee (no, not the deceased martial artist), to have a nice list of absurd examples of careers to highlight the issue. Can you imagine a…

  • coach who never played the sport;
  • conductor who cannot read music and never played an instrument; or
  • a hospital executive who never cared for a patient?

Unfortunately, the last absurdity is the norm rather than the exception.

He also lists some of the hospital leadership skills almost all physicians develop, which looks to be pretty accurate to me.

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Are You Biased?

As a group, physicians should be one of the least biased professions. We're trained from day one to treat all patients with dignity and compassion, to not be judgmental and not react to what we think are strange or inappropriate behaviors or dress. And, we're instructed to be culturally sensitive when interviewing and treating patients.


Well, let's just see about that.

monthly leadership favorites - September 2017 edition prejudice

Visit Project Implicit and test that assumption about yourself. Sign in as a guest and take one of the Implicit Association Tests. Maybe you should start with the Black-White IAT. Or how about the Gay-Straight, the Young-Old, or the Fat-Thin IAT?

I dare you.

You may find that you have some fairly ingrained, yet well-hidden, prejudices. Perhaps exposing them using these assessments will help you recognize and address them.

Keep Up with C-Suite Titles

As the healthcare industry has become more complicated, new disciplines have emerged, and new leaders of these disciplines have appeared. In Hail to the chiefs: Healthcare's new C-suite titles are here to stay, Jeff Lagasse writes in Healthcare Finance about some of the new titles.

He also provides some insight into when a new C-suite level executive might be required. Here are some new positions that might be appropriate for physicians to fill:

  • Chief Integration Officer promotes the coordination of all of the major systems within an organization.
  • Chief Quality Officer ensures that quality measurement tools are available and being used, and leads initiatives to address quality issues.
  • Chief Strategy Officer assists the CEO in identifying and executing major corporate strategic initiatives.

You can read all about the complete list of Chiefs in Hail to the chiefs: Healthcare's new C-suite titles are here to stay.

Those are some of the articles I found inspiring and educational this month.

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