On Monday, December 10th....
On Monday, December 10th we will open our brand new Emergent Wing of our Emergency Department to the public. It is a beautiful state of the art, one of a kind emergency department. As I look back some 2 and a half years ago when we started this journey it is still hard for me to believe that the big day has finally arrived. If you have ever gone through a major expansion project you will understand when I say that the path to completion is filled with frustration, disagreements and if you are lucky some fun.
As a leader, I have tried to analyze how we got to this point, what made us successful. I believe many times we move on to the next thing before we can really examine what was worked and what didn’t and learn from the experience. Sometimes in the process, it is not what we do but rather what we don’t do that makes the difference. One of the major keys to success in this project was my own ability to give away control. Giving the decision-making ability to those who work in the trenches every day. Don’t get me wrong this is very difficult to do for any leader. To be quiet and sit back is just as much a skill as having excellent communication skills. But these are the kinds of leadership decisions that buys loyalty. Where staff feels truly valued.
Empowerment. I hear leaders say this word all the time. “Oh, I empowered the staff to make the change”.
Many leaders believe that they empower others when in reality all they do is give the staff the idea and have them figure out a way to get the result wanted by the leader. True empowerment starts with you. Have the fortitude to let major decisions happen with your guidance, not suggestions.
Allow for others to make mistakes, and when they do, ask them what they learned from the experience and allow them to try again. Empowerment can happen when you as a leader feel confident that the group making the decisions understand and respect the vision of the department. This is the first step towards true empowerment.
For example, in our emergency department, I always ask the same thing whenever I am asked a question from one of our self-governance committees. “Is the decision you are about to make the right thing for the Patient, not you, the patient” If the answer to the question is yes then the decision should go forward.
So if you want a group of staff members to follow you then you must find the true meaning of empowerment. Start by having your staff help you develop your own vision, your own clinical standards that you can all live by. Once they understand where the department is going then empowerment will become a reality and the impossible will become the possible.