Transformational leadership in Healthcare

Transformational leadership in Healthcare

Curt Kwak, CIO, Proliance Surgeons

Curt Kwak, CIO, Proliance Surgeons

They say that “Transformational leadership” is a style of leadership where the leader is charged with identifying the needed change, creating a vision to guide the change through inspiration, and executing the change in tandem with committed members of the group. So how does this truly translate in the Healthcare industry? I have observed and met brilliant leaders, both clinical and technical in the healthcare industry during my healthcare career. When I meet these leaders, I’m humbled to even consider myself a leader in the healthcare industry because I feel that I still have a long ways to go.  One thing that I have learned over time is that if there was one clear trait that I can point out that was common across these great leaders, it would be their HUMILITY and just as important, their ability to demonstrate humility. In observing them, I noted that their discussions were never about them as individuals, but always about the team, the people and the patients. They have a gift, the ability to articulate their stories in a very inspiring and an unassuming way to really, truly draw your attention to inspire you both directly & indirectly. 

“Innovation is not just developing a new idea or a way, but also using an existing way better”

Dr. Kendra Cherry mentioned a trait “Individualized consideration” that is a subcomponent of transformational leadership, which is translated as “ability to offer support and encouragement to individual followers.” How does one go about doing this effectively? What do individuals need from their leaders to feel this support and encouragement? In my world, some things that I try very hard to be consistent in are fairly straight forward – listen actively and always provide uninterrupted attention to the followers. Phones are off, laptops put away and the door is closed. At this point, it’s a true face to face discussion, or I should even call it collaboration between two parties to form better thoughts and or establish a better solution to the issue at hand. If not issues, then at least exchange of mutually understandable thoughts. I always question myself if this is my path toward becoming a transformational leader. Is it? I truly believe that it all starts with people. Focus on people. …

Your success as a leader should be based on the success of your people. In my mind, healthcare translates to people care. It is all about the people.  People you work with and people that you take care of. These should be your key critical success factors. There is a common question I ask when I meet a leader: “as a leader, how do you want to be remembered by?” It’s fun to watch the body language as they think about this question, but even more fun to actually hear the answer. I’ve heard answers that range from “successful implementation of an enterprise EMR” to “Enabling cost savings in the millions” to “establishing optimization metrics” to “development of leaders within the organization”. 

However, what really gets my ear is the story behind these answers. As an example, there always is an incredible story behind every “implementation of an enterprise EMR”—the selection process, planning, cultural formation and transformation, and for a few, new career paths. And behind every story there is how people were impacted, both directly & indirectly - Leaders rising up to the occasion, new relationships got formed, and of course, those consequences that occur during a big, transformational change.  So I follow up with the question– “As a leader, what could have you done more for the people? How did you identify and support those leaders who rose up to the occasion? Most importantly, how did you support those individuals who were negatively impacted by a massive transformation like this?” A tough question, I know because I went through this myself and there doesn’t seem to be clear answers to any of these questions. I recently contributed to a journal titled “Social Innovation in Healthcare”. I was hung up on the concept “Innovation through Collaboration”.

In my mind, collaboration is innovation.  I believe the place healthcare can be in is tricky, because of its dynamic nature, and the economic, social, and government pressures placed on healthcare professionals every day. One of the biggest steps we all can take is to truly collaborate with each other so that we stop reinventing the wheel. Innovation is not just developing a new idea or a way, but also using an existing way better.  How do we learn from each other to not find a black or white solution to difficulties like above, but share these stories openly and find ways to support each other so that we can better navigate our own waters? I think we lose when we try to find that perfect answer. The key lies in the effort to fix things and how much you learn from the effort so that you can apply these best practices in the future. Life is never black and white, some wise mentor told me one day. 

Applying Social collaboration In Health Care

Social networks and media are all around us—locally, nationally, and globally. Social media is no longer limited to individuals or regions, but the world is at our finger tips, it feels like. Access to information instantly is forcing professionals in our industry to be quicker on our feet, streamline our operations, and put a greater premium on quality. The focus on quality and customer satisfaction is new opportunities for collaboration.  The patients now have options, because they are more informed. I can attest to this just from my own, personal experience. How do we stay ahead of this curve and the expectations of our patients? I think this is one of the more important questions that we will have to answer very quickly. I have learned a lot from my peers and the great leaders who are out there in all industries. I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the network of mentors and cohorts who I have had the privilege of knowing over my career.  



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