“A leader takes people where they would never go on their own.” – Hans Finzel
Everyone, at some point in their lives, has built a jigsaw puzzle. Let us take a moment to reflect on that time, as that is where we’ll uncover today’s leadership lesson.
OK. You just dumped out all the puzzle pieces on the table. You are now fully committed to building this puzzle. If you’re like most people, you are most likely flipping over the pieces and looking for the “end pieces.” While you’re searching out those “end pieces” you might also be doing a little sorting of the other pieces, say by color. Great, multi-tasking can be a good thing.
Regardless of how you get there, at some point you’re going to look at the top of the puzzle box. Therein lies today’s leadership lesson. One of the most important activities you do as a leader is to show those around you what you are trying to create as well as how they fit into the big picture. But knowing where you’re heading is only one piece of the puzzle.
Embarking on a Journey
It’s been said that leaders take us somewhere that we would not have gone on our own. Although the top of the puzzle box shows us our ultimate endgame, we must also consider those coming along on the journey with us. They must find our puzzle intrinsically motivating. They must want to embark on this journey with us.
At Corazon, Inc., most of my work is with physician alignment and service line management. Sometimes that means putting together a co-management agreement with physicians to help improve the performance of a service line. Essentially, we pick a handful of metrics we want to improve, provide current performance, and establish improvement targets. However, that may not be enough to be impactful on the care patients receive. We have the pieces but we may not have motivated everyone to finish the puzzle.
Step One: Understanding
As a service line leader, your first job is to help everyone understand current performance and their contribution to that outcome. Different team members play different roles and therefore control different aspects of the process. Still, each team member needs to hear from you about how they influence the outcome. They need to see how they fit into the puzzle and how they complete the puzzle.
Step Two: Getting Involved
Your second job is to show your team members how they can help, that is, what can they control and influence? They must believe they can make a difference. Make no mistake, this is a tough one because it’s personal and takes time. But when everyone is working on their section of the puzzle, success can and will happen quickly.
Step Three: Making it Personal
Finally, you must make the effort important to each member of the team. They must believe that the end goal is worthy of their hard work and contribution. For some, it might be the metric compared to historical performance or being recognized as “best in class.” For others, it might be more about the patient. Once again, this will take time and effort to get everyone connected to the goal, as this step is personal. To complete the puzzle, it really comes down to this: People have to understand where we are and see how they fit and influence the outcome. Perhaps most importantly, they must find both the journey and destination rewarding; it is worth the effort.
In the end, you’ll have a beautiful, completed puzzle and ultimately improved the care your patients receive.