Is Strong Healthcare Leadership Important? & Euclid Moments

Is Strong Healthcare Leadership Important?

February 17, 2021

According to a new Gallup survey 6 out of 10 people believe America needs a third political party because Democrats and Republicans are doing such a poor job. 33% of respondents said they think the 2 major parties do an adequate job, while 62 percent answered “yes” when asked by Gallup if “parties do such a poor job representing the American people that a third party is needed.”

The figure represented a 5 percent increase from the last poll, in September 2020, and is a new record high. Gallup first asked people whether they thought a third party was needed in 2003. At the time, 40 percent said yes. A majority of respondents have answered yes in most surveys since 2007. This survey was conducted from January 21st to February 2nd this year. The results of the poll were based on a random sample of 906 adults across all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The results included 412 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and 420 Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 6 percentage points. Regardless, it is obvious that most believe a third political party would be a move in the right direction. Why do you suppose this trend has evolved? The lack of effective leadership within the parties? The lack of cohesive platform messages to unify the parties? Perhaps conflicting and widespread interests within the parties causing enough dissent and division to create the survey results? Or could it simply be a vote of “no confidence” for the establishment and a vote for change that apparently requires a new political party or 2 according to those polled.

Leadership struggles not only exist in the political “theatre” but also across industries and organizations worldwide. Healthcare is no exception when it comes to this challenge. Many have expressed frustration through the years, particularly from the outside, with the resistance to innovation, change and transformation within healthcare establishments. Ironically, much of the direction provided healthcare comes from the central government, i.e., CMS and Congress. To think that outside influences have not also had an impact on leadership within the industry would be short-sighted. The currently named COVID-19 virus has certainly had a considerable influence on conditions within the industry and decisions made by healthcare leaders, making those jobs exceedingly difficult.

So many outside the industry believe that healthcare is a job-secure place to work, while those close to or in the business know differently. The impact of the regulations, lockdowns, human fears, and worker illnesses driven by COVID-19 attest to financial catastrophes occurring or on the near horizon. When word is out that 187 hospitals in the U.S. are at risk of near-term closure and most because of financial reasons, there is no doubt that the virus itself has set in motion a dangerous precedent. And there is so much more happening that makes the job of leadership challenging in healthcare. Some recent headlines from Becker’s Hospital Review included:

  • • North Carolina system sees exodus of physicians after HCA takeover.
  • • Northern California hospital CNO target of no-confidence petition.
  • • Former U of Kansas Medical Center administrator pleads guilty to embezzling $500K.
  • • Centene to reduce workforce by 3,000.
  • • Record number of US workers are calling in sick.
  • • 18 recent hospital, health system executive moves.
  • • 80% of CNOs have trouble recruiting nurses.

Every single one of these headlines creates challenge for healthcare leadership. From dramatic workforce reductions and instability, to leadership misbehavior, to fear of the future… are just some of the many conditions spawned from the uncertain environment that currently exists and is seemingly growing. In a recent interview, South Dakota Governor, Kristi Noem, referred to the job of President of the United States as being a not so desirable position. Perhaps being in healthcare leadership isn’t either. There are, though not on a Commander-in-Chief level, many obstacles to success along the much “in need of repair” healthcare highway. What then is the answer to leading healthcare to a successful future? Healthcare organizations can not print more money or sign quick-fix executive orders. In his book 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell writes that “Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course”. That requires the skill of navigation. It requires the leader to be able to see the big picture and then to break the work down into small segments that are achievable a day at a time. Those small wins add up to attaining the big goals… of the big picture. According to Henry Ford, "Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs." Some healthcare entities appear to be hopelessly mired in the transactions of healthcare to the degree that seeing the big picture of imperative financial success may seem impossible for them. But is it really an option? Quite arguably it is the ONLY option. Survival requires it and any chance of thriving begins and ends with that concept. As with politics and other industries, the message has to match the mission… always. When it gets misdirected, miscommunicated, or recklessly abandoned, the trouble begins. As vendors it is often difficult to secure the opportunity to present innovative ideas to help healthcare institutions become more financially viable, thus enabling them to also provide higher quality patient care. So then, is it worth the effort to continue to strive to assist healthcare leaders to become better for their people, their patients and for their organizations? Of course, it is! It should be our mission to provide exemplary leadership and stay focused on the big picture. We can only do so by never confusing our belief that we will prevail in the end (which we can never afford to lose), with discipline to confront the most difficult challenges of our current environment, regardless of what they may be.