Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ten Aspects of Strong Leadership: Point #4

In the previous posts, the leadership traits have focused on the ability to interact and motivate people. But just as important for a strong leader is the ability to provide a clear direction for the organization and a sense of purpose.

4) Choose a clear mission

Healthcare is very mission oriented. In fact some organizations in the past have focused so much on mission that they did not keep the financial realities in proper perspective and threatened their organization's very existence. Obviously a balance is needed. The old adage "No money, no mission" is very true. So it is up to the strong leader to identify the proper mix of services that will support the organization while fulfilling its overall mission.

This all starts with the organization's mission statement which should be to the point and clear to everyone that reads it so that it can be internalized. I once came to an organization with a mission statement that was a page and a half long. If you read the whole thing it sounded very nice but it did not convey a clear sense of purpose to the organization. Working with the Board we shortened our mission to a single sentence that still expressed what we are about.

But the job of establishing mission awareness only starts here. Once you have a statement that will inspire and direct people, the real work is to make it a living, breathing part of the organization. Everyone from the Board members to all front line staff should not only be aware of the hospital's mission but also see it as a guiding principle for their everyday activities. I had our mission, vision and values framed and hung on the walls throughout the hospital including the Board Room. I had them laminated and put in as the first page of the Board book every month. I went to every new employee orientation and gave a 15 minute talk about what our mission, vision and values meant to us. Even with all of these efforts, there was more that could have been done to make the mission completely internalized in the hospital.

Selecting the appropriate mission that balances meeting community needs with protecting the long term financial viability of the hospital is a daunting task. Getting this mission completely internalized in the organization is even harder.

More on leadership tomorrow.

Mark Brodeur

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