There is no question who the boss is around here. I earned the office with two, count ’em, two windows. My paycheck is at the top of the pile and serves as a paper weight for the rest of them. It is I who goes to the CEO and swaps stories about how great we are. I am the one in front of the board every month reviewing IT strategy and direction. Make no mistake about it, I am the man!
Ever work for anyone like this? Some of you still do; although, it may not be this obvious. Or, are you someone like this? WAKE UP! The time for career oppression is over. Change is happening faster than ever. We no longer have the luxury of centuries, or decades, or months, weeks, days or even hours to adapt. While back in the day it took just about 2,000 years to invent the stethoscope after discovering that heart beats do actually have clinical meaning; today, a discovery can reach millions of scientists around the globe in seconds. Have you seen some of the “Did you know” videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8W1WuxGniE), that illustrate the rapid pace of change today? Certainly not all of them are validated but it makes you think, doesn’t it? One of the statistics I like is about text messages. The first commercial text message was sent in December of 1992; today the number of text messages sent and received every day exceeds the total population of the planet. The point? As stated before, change is here and it is coming faster every day. If you think you can manage the change of this generation alone you will cut yourself, your organization, your community, and all of those you influence short.
At our hospital, a member of the IS leadership team had previously been exposed to the Clifton Strength Finders book (http://www.strengthsfinder.com). Their idea was to purchase this book for all IS staff members to help them find their strengths. This led to a whole mindset shift of the IS leadership team, including myself. Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, lets determine what we do have and capitalize on it. What a difference it has made. All staff members who participated have proudly tacked their list of strengths to their cubicle or office. The entire IS leadership team from supervisors on up have gone on to read “Go Put Your Strengths To Work,” in order to help align staff member roles with their strengths. From here it is a work in progress. I am fully confident that many more ideas will come from this and we will continue to focus on and better utilize strengths of team. What if I would have said, “Great Chris, now go back to your office and get me the budget report,” or something else insignificant in comparison? Where would the department be? Where would the organization be, as this is certainly “leaking” out of the IS department? Healthcare is in the beginning of great change, Healthcare IT is in the middle of frantic change. As the stethoscope example indicated, healthcare changes slowly, after all, change in health care is risky. My response to that is that indeed change can be risky. In order to mitigate that risk, you cannot, I cannot, be the big shot in the corner office, you have to, I have to, seek out who can best help manage the seemingly unmanageable change that is coming. The talent exists, it is up to leadership to draw out those strengths that will be needed. Leadership should be seen as a spring board, not as a ceiling.
When Abraham Lincoln worked hard to free the slaves, his original idea was to “free” them from their oppressors and then send them to Jamaica or Cuba where they could be “free.” When some of the slaves were freed, they asked to be able to fight for and with the Union. That was great and in response they were given shovels and uniforms. When asked for a weapon they were originally told that they could not have them. It literally took an act of congress to get weapons in the hands of the newly freed slaves. The fear was that they would turn on their oppressors when empowered with weapons. What actually happened is that they fought with honor and courage and played a vital role in the final defeat of the confederate army. That is exactly what I believe some leaders are like, afraid to empower their teams, afraid they will turn on them when they lose control of them. If you want to see an empowered employee, bring them to the CEO’s office, the next board meeting, or the next department meeting and give them credit for a great idea. Watch their world change as they grow in front of your eyes. How many more ideas will be born of that one? How many light bulbs and stethoscopes will be created from simply giving credit where it is due? As a result of our Strength Finders journey, the IS org chart changed. The CIO and the directors are at the bottom, supporting those who are above. The ceilings are gone, fly people, fly!