It is my conviction that managers really do make all the difference in the world. Great managers get great results and build great teams. Bad managers don’t.
But it is also my conviction that managers generally mirror the leadership culture created by those they report to. There is, if you will, a “trickle down” effect in the style and priorities of your management. A bad root leads to bad fruit. Your leadership culture is the root of your corporate tree. You will get the managers that you create by your leadership example. You generally don’t pluck a good apple from a bad tree.
Therefore, if you want better managers in your company, it may be time to look in the mirror and fix what is wrong in yourself and myself to start with. I love that quote from Tolstoy: “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Swap out “the organization” for “the world” and you will see the point I’m trying to make.
So here is a question for all Healthcare Leadership:
Is YOUR behavior (and MINE!) setting the right example for how managers in your organization should behave?
- Do you want managers who respect their team members? Fine. Do you and I show respect in our habits and behavior at work?
- Do you want humble managers that embrace a “servant leadership” model? Great. Am I modeling that behavior myself? Does my team get the sense that I’m there to support them, and not the other way around?
- Do you want managers who listen to their direct reports and respond to their questions or concerns? Wonderful. Do you and I take time to listen, respond to, and answer the questions of our managers in our areas so that they feel supported and empowered?
- Do you want managers to coach their team, developing talent that is ready to step up and take on greater responsibility? Fantastic! But are we approaching our job from a “coaching perspective” looking for ways to make our managers better at what they do with new opportunities and new challenges?
My concern today based on what I hear from various colleagues is that many corporations want great managers…but ignore problems in higher leadership that are poisoning the management culture beneath them. This must change. But change starts with me. Do I have the guts and courage to ask my team how I can be a better leader? Do I really want to know the impression I create on those around me? That’s scary stuff. But I believe there is a contagious quality to personal improvement. The more we strive to get better, the more others will too.
I love the example from the gospels where Jesus takes out a basin of water and begins to wash the feet of His disciples. Why would He do such a thing? There were servants to do that type of stuff. But He said to them “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you (John 13:15).” Their Master taught them a lesson in leadership that day which they would never forget.
I hope this encourages you to think about the example you are setting in your role. I know it has challenged me. I know I have a long way to go. But as it has been said, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Will you walk with me?