Flexible Leadership

Was reading Leader Be Nimble by Dr. Jessica D. Squazzo in November/December 2012 edition of Healthcare Executive.  It talks about a very important question about leader’s knowledge and capability.  In increasingly complex world of healthcare, leaders have to judge and support people with varied skills.  So, how should one be a good leader?  It is not possible to learn all the fields of health administration.  The article begins by saying that a leader need to be a jack-of-all-trades, but an open-minded person.  The key attributes should be flexibility and open-mindedness.

Further to reach that senior place, they are more likely to be successful if they follow a zig-zag career path than a ladder-like one.  They may have to make a few compromises along the way, but this way they are more likely to gain varied skills and experiences.  Also, people may still believe that compensation is the biggest driver, but in actual they can be flexibility, open-mindedness and pursuit of lifelong learning.  It gives an example of a retired US defense personnel taking up the job of senior executive in a acute care facility.  One would think only negatives about such a transition, but his experience was otherwise. Among the things that came in handy were team building, the necessity to complete a task and building a consensus based on reason.  Other things I believe a person with such background will bring are ability to create urgency/criticality around the task at hand.  The another example of flexibility is to be ready for anything because you can never craft a perfect plan. 

One should also be willing to adapt, as the lateral moves allow you to gain varied experience.  It would be a very conservative idea to rise through the ranks of an organization.  Quite often, such organization need fresh idea that an outside person can bring.  Also, leaders can make virtue out of necessity when they are put into a difficult situation.  The experience they then gain elsewhere can propel them back into better position.  It is this exact virtue of adaptability that is going to bring them back in.  The article also underscores the point that the days of remaining in a particular organizations are over.  So, it becomes critical for leaders to decide when to make a move.  On short term, I’d say that they shouldn’t make a move unless the reasons are really compelling.  Especially if the people at work like you and you like them as well.  On long term, I’d say one should plan a move when there isn’t any challenge left at the current organization.  Also, leaders must do a favour to their current employers by starting to promote next generation of leadership well before they decide to move. Remember, one of the essential qualities of leaders is that they create more leaders.  Probably the best way to be remembered once you leave the organization. 

Leaders in true sense should come out of their comfort zone.  In every challenge, they should see an opportunity to learn and deliver even more.  In today’s trying times, they should be happy to be entrusted with greater responsibilities.  A great metaphor would be cycling uphill and downhill.  When in testing times, as in cycling uphill we have no choice but to work hard, else slip backwards.  Further, while going downhill we can either sit back and let the gradient work for us, or take its advantage and work as hard as we were while going uphill.  In the latter approach we will gain enough momentum to cross any further hurdle with relative ease. 



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