The Myth of the Natural Born IDD Service Leader
In healthcare, and especially in the Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities/Special Needs service arena, an inspiring IDD service leader with purpose and vision is vital not just for corporate success but also to maintain happy staff and consumers.
Nobody actually wants to be a bad leader. However the question is ‘Are we doing the best we can to ensure we are the best leaders we can be?’ Many (many) articles have been written on subject of leadership however one of the most erroneous and harmful pieces of (mis)information out there is the existence of the “natural born leader”. People with a proactive, outgoing and confident nature are usually labeled born leaders but as admirable as these personal characteristics may be are they truly definitive of all good leaders?
The problem with the “natural born leader” tag is it implies that these unique people don’t have to work at being leaders; basically if you’re born without the “leader gene” then you’ve no chance. Nothing could be further from the truth! We all need to work at being better leaders. A large part of the job of a business leader is to bring valuable resources together in such a way as to provide a product/service that will (hopefully) generate profits or returns. With the economic, regulatory and political environments constantly changing as well as catering to the needs of consumer’s and their next of kin this isn’t an easy job and no-one comes fully equipped!
There are plenty of good articles on leadership but this blog’s primary purpose is to communicate the need to work at your leadership skills. That is, you must consistently make time to improve your mastery in this area. This commitment is vital to your success as a leader, the happiness of your staff and the fulfillment of your clients. Learn by actively seeking out books/articles on the topic (like this blog!), seek out mentors and learn from the situations around you.
As the Intellectual or Developmental Disability industry continues to undergo rapid change, increased regulatory expectations regarding consumer care and more complex service documentation requirements, the need for excellent compassionate IDD provider leaders will become even more vital.
There are only two questions to ask yourself here:
Lots of research (led by Dr Carol S Dweck) has shown that your mindset completely determines your approach to some of the most important things in life. A leader with a growth mind-set understands she/he can do better at anything when they apply themselves. This is opposed to a fixed mind-set where we might believe we are just bad at math or inadequate at managing people and we’ll never be good at it. The growth mind-set allows a leader to embrace challenges and persist in spite of difficulties which are key traits of great leaders. To find out what your mind-set is take the assessment here.
Vince Lombardi, the coach who led the Green Bay Packers to 5 NFL Championships is quoted as saying “Leaders aren’t born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work…”
Great leaders work smart (and very hard), learn from their failures, understand their own limitations (ie that they don’t always have the answers), and they do all of this understanding that to lead others they need to find a place of wisdom, strength, and real connection within themselves. You can’t be a source of wisdom and inspiration for others if you have allowed the well to run dry.
You are most likely already working really (really) hard as most professionals involved with people with IDD tend to be naturally wired to be givers. Let’s put a bit of that effort towards improving our leadership skills and using available tools like Focused EHR because we want to work smarter. And remember investing in the infrastructure (your brain) is just good business!
Being eternally busy is NOT a sign of a good or committed leader (look out for our blog next week for more on that!) Unproductive, ineffective busy-ness is unhealthy and can only be maintained in the short term. “Creating the culture of burnout is opposite to creating a culture of sustainable creativity,” says Arianna Huffington. (Here are two easy ways to help you work smarter and with more efficiency – make the cloud-based Focused Electronic Healthcare Record for IDD Professionals part of your practice management software solution and read our blogs – start with the Value Proposition series.) You probably already know a few friends or colleagues who really need to read this blog so forward it to them – you’ll be doing them a big favor!
So remember just like unicorns and our super-friend from the planet Krypton - “natural born leaders” are a myth. You may be gifted with certain personality traits but like all good things becoming an excellent leader requires effort. Commit to consistently and purposefully improving your leadership skills today. Your staff, consumers and even your family will thank you for it.
FOCUSED SOFTWARE CAN HELP! When your documentation is organized and centralized, you can track services more accurately, report more quickly, and free up staff to provide more services. Implementing a paper-free system can also serve to improve cashflow, save you money and reduce the administrative burdens of managing office supplies, filing, and storing paper records. All these benefits work to boost your agency’s chances for success.
After you’ve read through this blog, take a deep breath, let it out, develop a brilliant plan, and click on the big orange button below to schedule a demo today!