Dyad leadership is a critical component of much needed transformation in healthcare organizations. The model works; except when it doesn’t.
Dyad is a term which means something that consists of two elements or parts. In music, for example, a set of two notes or pitches — two components or realities that, when brought together, create one integrated whole. In healthcare, the dyad model often includes a clinician lead and administrative lead who each bring their unique perspective, experience, and skill set.
Symptoms of failed dyad structures include stalled initiatives, hardened positions, reduced trust, and ultimately organizational drift. Clarity is shrouded, the direction lost, and the best people leave. Healthy dyads bring civility, shared understanding, the discovery of common ground, and measurable progress toward organizational health. The best people want to stay, and others want to join. The model does not make the leader; the leader makes the model.
Though potentially seen as a nuance, it is not the preferred dyad structure that is most relevant, but rather what individual leaders bring to the structure. Caustic, narrow, and self-inflated characteristics will create failure in any model. We cannot give something away that we do not first possess. Implementing and fostering a dyad leadership model will produce an outcome directly linked to what each leader brings to the dyad. It is vital to address first things first.
The most critical component of successful dyad leadership (consisting of two elements or two parts) are individual leaders who each possess authentic humility and an indomitable spirit.
The cadence of transformative change in today’s healthcare sector is breathtaking. Significant disruptive implications now come in waves measured by months (not years) and the rhythm continues to gain speed. AI, auto-machine learning, robotics, augmented reality, precision medicine, blockchain, legislative pivots, acquisitions, and the list goes on and on.
Here is a stark reality: no leader can know it all or keep up with it all. No leader has the insight or control to truly comprehend what will be: there is too much disruption, at too much speed, creating too much uncertainty, to think one can manage it all successfully. That’s why we don’t need more managers. We need leaders. Leaders who transform the uncertain to achieve the uncommon. Leaders who first possess authentic humility.
Facts and truth are the basis for authenticity; being accurate and reliable. These leaders have a presence that is genuine, not invented. Humility is a modest view of one’s importance and the possessing of a genuine humbleness. An acceptance there is more going on here than can ever be entirely controlled or comprehended by any one person; whether that person holds an M.D, an M.B.A, or both. A humility that leads to a genuinely settled posture; knowing the value and necessity of others to thrive. There is always someone with the clearest view of what another cannot see. Authentic humility is the first essential element of successful dyad leadership.
The second essential element needed for successful dyad leadership is an indomitable spirit: a spirit impossible to subdue or defeat. These leaders carry an unshakable and unyielding belief that though they, in themselves, could never possess all that is needed to navigate current challenges, success will come, and it will come by collaboration.
Comparisons do not shake those who possess an indomitable spirit; they make sure there are always others in the room who are smarter and more capable. These leaders seek out and involve others who bring insight, perspective, and gifts that move everyone closer to the win. They also engage others in a way that gives hope, knowing hope is the necessary fuel for sustainable progress. A leader with an indomitable spirit accepts current reality, envisions future success, and works to ensure there are always measurable wins and people to celebrate.
Management structures are useful and necessary. Planned systems are critical to managing complexity and scale, and the study of organizational development and leadership models valid. And then there are first things. Finding and growing leaders who possess the dyad traits of authentic humility and an indomitable spirit is a first thing.
These leaders don’t just manage organizations or facilitate incremental change. When aligned with a crystal clear “why,” they spark movements, disrupt industries, influence cultures, and transform the organizations and people they serve.
In healthcare, we don’t simply need professionals of different background and education working in a dyad structure. To truly transform our industry, we need leaders who possess the dyad traits of authentic humility and an indomitable spirit; now, more than ever.
This piece was originally published on LinkedIn by Robert Sundelius, president of Grand River Consulting Group. A Fellow with the American College of Healthcare Executives fellow, Sundelius previously served as SVP of Practice Group and System Business Development at Memorial Healthcare. To follow him on Twitter, click here.