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Why Leaders Need to Lead

2020 is a year that will not be missed. It was like a decade transpired in 12 months - one of the hardest years in our history - personally and as a global community.

A number of years ago, I was introduced to a book, Leading With Soul by Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal which highlights “the heart of true leadership can only be found in the heart of the leader.” I was intrigued by this idea and dedicated myself to understanding what it really meant. Not all leaders are inspirational but, those who inspire are remembered. In healthcare organizations, the mission is easier to rally because we are in the business of caring and this became so clearly evident in 2020 as the healthcare industry had to rise to unanticipated levels of performance as leaders needed to employ new ways to reach out to staff providing clear leadership, practicing empathy, and creating an environment capable of flexing without notice because situations were changing, multiple times, on a daily basis as the growing pandemic challenged us more and more every day. While not surprising to those of us in the healthcare industry, we saw clinical and operational staff who continued to come to work every day and become the true heroes of healthcare organizations.

What are the key ingredients of leadership?

  • Creating a shared vision and mission inspiring everyone to rally and mobilize when challenges are presented. Uniting people and providing an environment of support are efforts that need to be cultivated continuously.

  • Leaders need to embrace caring and empathy. As the pandemic hit, organizations were forced to become virtual. Employees literally shifted into working remotely at a moment’s notice. This challenged leaders to account for what normal became and how to make sure staff weren’t isolated or unsupported.

How do you keep staff engaged and informed during all of this?

  • Clear and regular communication is critical. Without it, the airwaves are filled with whatever stories are whispered down the lane.

  • It is critically important for people to feel significant and that the organization is “ours” instead of “mine.”

  • Good leaders create ways for staff to have stewardship. This is an important element especially when dealing with limited face-to-face communication. Leaders must ensure that the voices and input are heard and respected.

When the time comes, what new ways to celebrate and influence can you come up with?

  • The magic of special occasions, rituals and storytelling has always been important but during this year has taken on a whole new meaning. Weaving this collective fabric through the organization provides hope.

  • Protect those rituals at all costs.

As we move through 2021, leaders should take the lessons of 2020, find the best of practices and share those by creating a new approach to work and enhancing this stewardship and collaboration - making a good organization great!

Joanne Finegan, MA, CTRS, FDRT, Board Executive

Joanne is the former CEO of ReMed and currently serves as a Board Executive for ReMed in Partnership with Learning Services. She is currently the Chairman of the Council on Brain Injury. Recently, Joanne was named to the Brain Injury Association of America's Board of Directors for a term beginning January 1, 2021.

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