“This isn’t happening,” I thought to myself.
My laptop was frozen, and at the worst possible time. The webinar was set to begin in 15 minutes, and instead of running through the instructions with the speaker and doing sound checks, I was staring at the little blue circle on my screen that just kept going and going.
Meanwhile, the speaker had logged in and was awaiting the dial-in instructions (and probably wondering where on earth I was), but there was nothing I could do. I was at the mercy of a computer that chose to stop functioning when I needed it most.
This, by the way, was just the second webinar I moderated. It was supposed to be walk-through to help me become more comfortable with the process, but it was quickly turning into a disaster. I hit control-alt-delete again and again, but to no avail. Finally I did an emergency shutdown, knowing there was a good chance that when I restarted, the mysterious issue would persist.
If there was a panic button on my keyboard, I would’ve hit it (probably multiple times).
“This isn’t happening,” I said out loud.
Sensing that I was starting to lose it, Anthony came up with a back-up plan. He plugged his laptop into my workstation, and helped me get logged in, locate the files I needed to run through the preparation checklist — all with pretty much no time to spare.
Somehow, we got the through webinar. In fact, I think it went really well, for two reasons. First, the speaker, Jonathan Goldberg, gave an excellent presentation on HIEs and did a great job fielding questions. Second, I had Anthony in my corner. He knew I had become rattled, and so he made sure to keep his composure (at least on the surface), which in turn, helped me to keep mine.
And that was critical, because the webinar series is a core component of healthsystemCIO.com. We’ve devoted a great deal of time and energy into making the webinars as valuable as possible to our audience (which was validated when they recently become eligible for CHIME CHCIO credit). And so, quite understandably, Anthony tends to be very meticulous about the preparation and execution of these programs.
There is a precise timeline that needs to be followed and tasks that must be checked off the list in order to ensure that everything goes smoothly. There is a schedule to be adhered to. There are scripts to follow. And when things don’t go as planned, Nancy and I can hear the tension in his voice. If a speaker hasn’t called at one minute past the designated time, Anthony starts to get nervous. At three minutes, the palpitations begin.
But this time, I was at the helm, and it wasn’t going well. The plan had been tossed out the window and we were flying blind. I thought for sure Anthony would be in full-blown panic mode, but he wasn’t (or if he was, I couldn’t tell). And that was the difference maker. Not only did he not insist on taking the wheel, but he showed that he had complete confidence in me, and I can’t tell you how reassuring that was.
After all, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and lose your cool when things start falling apart, but a good leader will remain focused on the task at hand and do whatever it takes to help right the ship. A good leader will put on a brave face and exude confidence, even if he feels anything but (and perhaps, especially then). If you can manage that, your team will figure out how to fly right.
[To read Anthony Guerra’s perspective, click here.]