Growing Up as a CEO
Learning to take responsibility for your mistakes
There are lots of things to learn as a CEO (or other type of leader) in the IDD or special needs service arena. Most of these vital nuggets of knowledge can be learned through courses, blogs, observation and mentorship. However one of the most difficult things that must be grasped if you are to succeed in any significant and lasting capacity comes from within; the ability to squarely take responsibility for the difficulties you get your company into and then take appropriate action.
Problems will keep resurfacing until you recognize how your actions helped create them in the first place. That may seem obvious, but most people have a hard time seeing the role they played. It’s always easier to point the finger at employees, circumstances, bad luck, the devil or other forces beyond your control than to admit that you’re to blame.
Believe me I spent years deluding myself (and no-one else) that I didn’t make mistakes. I’d make excuses while feeling sincerely offended if anyone even hinted at the fact that I might be slightly mistaken about something. I had a hard time taking responsibility for any thing that I defined as a failure. As an inevitable consequence I created some very painful situations that forced me to see myself for what I was ‘a regular, fallible human being’. Nothing more, nothing less and certainly nothing to be embarrassed or in denial about.
Some people may refuse to acknowledge their part in their company’s problems not because they are feel they’re incapable of making mistakes, in fact just the opposite! They feel overwhelmed by the situation and incapable of thinking of a solution let alone implementing one. If this is your problem – you are not alone. Every successful CEO of note (think Jack Welch, GE, Jeff Bezos, Amazon, Indra Nooyi, Pepsi) knows that you don’t have to have all the answers you just need to know who to go to for the answers. Not to toot our horn too much but Focused Software helps clients with the answers to lots of questions (not just EHR related issues) eg policies, procedures, change management, regulatory issues etc.
There is a great sense of freedom and a keenness of clarity associated with admitting to a mistake. It may feel uncomfortable initially but once admitted (even if it’s just to yourself) things will get better – I promise.
As with most things just admitting a misstep isn’t the end of the matter. I’m not talking about apologizing to offended parties (although if appropriate that would be good and a show of character and integrity on your part). I’m talking about committing to making changes in your character and in your business that will lead to future success. This means recognizing and taking responsibility for your mistakes earlier so that they don’t have time to fester, become more costly and less easy to recover from.
Stop procrastinating and burying your head in the sand! As an example almost all of the providers I have spoken to know that inevitably everyone will have to move to an electronic health record (EHR) because documentation requirements are getting more complex, HHS and other payers such as managed care organizations (MCOs) are demanding them. Even more meaningful is the fact that EHRs make consumer data easier to retrieve and keep up to date as well as making it easier to stay in compliance and run an efficient business. Your company might have even received a citation that a standard EHR would have helped prevent. However, a significant number of the same leaders (CEOs, COOs, owners and decision makers) of these large and small IDD service companies keep putting off the implementation of an EHR. Why? Do they think it will be easier or cheaper to implement the more complex their organization grows? Do they think the purchase of an EHR could possibly be more costly than employing numerous staff to do the work the software can do in a fraction of the time with more reliability? Are they waiting for the chaos that will ensue when HHS mandates the move?
At the end of the day, you are solely responsible for your success and your failure. And the sooner you realize that, you accept that, and integrate that into your work ethic, you will start being successful….. – Erin Cummings
Acknowledge your mistake(s) e.g. procrastinating the implementation of important things or being overly risk-averse then commit to doing everything in your power to ensure that your company moves into the future with it’s chances of success fully optimized. You’ve worked hard to get to where you are; don’t undermine all of that work now! Continuing the previous example, find out what EHR options you have (start with Focused!) and ask what it will take for the EHR to succeed at your company, ask about a history of each EHR vendor’s customer service, find out what YOU will have to do to make it a success, develop a tracking mechanism so as efficiencies are gained you can measure increased output from your staff in time and money, determine which of your staff can be relied upon to perform key EHR rollout functions (you won’t be able to do it all yourself).
Once you identify any personal weaknesses that might trip you up in the future, come up with a variety of mechanisms to circumvent your own bad habits, such as creating an open environment where staff can quickly bring their own concerns/mistakes to you, addressing other staff mistakes professionally and fairly (even if this means dismissal it can still be handled tactfully and compassionately), insisting on surrounding yourself only with enthusiastic focused employees who know what your vision is and are committed to attaining company goals. This will not be easy and it will take time but you can do it!
Always ask what role, if any, you had to play in creating the messes your company finds itself in. It doesn’t make you less of a person, in fact, these days you might just be that increasingly rare bird – a secure mature person who has the self-confidence to acknowledge and learn from their mistakes with grace. As a consequence you will develop the knowledge necessary to become an even better CEO/leader tomorrow. Now doesn’t that sound good?
Taking responsibility is a characteristic of a mature CEO/owner. It demands boldness, self-confidence and humility which allows you to see things as they are and not as you'd like them to be. If part of the change you'd like to see at your company involves an EHR call Focused Software. We'll collaborate with you to create a rollout plan tailored for your unique company needs; all with 24/7 live customer service!