In the past few weeks, I’ve discussed how vendors need to step up to the plate to partner with their customers. I’ve also mentioned some of the things I’ve learned from providers that they do in order to meet their vendors halfway. In order to achieve successful partnerships, healthcare organizations need true leaders.
I was recently asked what the attributes of a healthcare leader should be. As I’ve seen and spoken with many movers and shakers in HIT over the last 20 years, I’ve seen some common threads. To begin with, there doesn’t seem to be one set “personality” of a successful HIT leader. They differ in their titles, roles and areas of influence. Yet they’re tied together by their passion. They all have this underlying passion around healthcare, around solving IT issues. Not simply because they like hard puzzles — though some of the leaders I’ve worked with find joy in the puzzle — but rather, a successful HIT leader is one who has caught the vision of why the work they’re doing matters.
It’s that passion that pushes them to work outside the 9 to 5. By loving what they do, it never feels like extra effort. Burning the midnight oil is a byproduct of passionately chasing their cause. This kind of passion doesn’t just rest with CEOs or in physicians or any specific place. These passionate leaders are scattered throughout healthcare. If you asked anyone at KLAS, “what gets Adam Gale out of bed in the morning? Why does he love to come to work on Monday?” They would probably tell you (because I have told them) I love coming to work because I’m fortunate enough to work with amazing people, both inside KLAS and out.
But of course, passion isn’t enough. Passion without direction can get you into trouble. From what I’ve seen, great healthcare leaders also have great humility. Most often I see this manifest in their thirst for knowledge, and asking lots of questions. Tied to that humility, these leaders have an “abundance mentality.” Instead of hoarding strategies and best practices, they say, “look, we want to do the right thing, and if we do the right thing and are abundant, good things will happen for us.” I’ve seen that from salespeople that are successful. I’ve seen that from providers, vendors, investors.
Part of successful leadership means avoiding the “me and mine” mentality in favor of a “we” mentality. Which, I understand how difficult that mind set can be in such the cutthroat environments that we find ourselves in sometimes, but it’s amazing these people always seem to rise to the top as others join their cause.
I don’t feel that there is a single, solitary path that successful leaders in healthcare must walk. As one of my close friends, Taylor Davis, has often said, “There’s still a lot of art left in the science of medicine.” And I think that artistry of healthcare allows for people to take their passion, humility, integrity and openness and apply it in many different ways. Sometimes, we can look at the big problems facing us, and the long road ahead and get discouraged. I find in those moments it’s helpful to look around and see those leaders who are tirelessly working to shape the world.