Strong, skillful leadership can make or break an organization. Is your approach one that offers a path for growth and mutual understanding, or are you operating on models of leadership that are perhaps less effective than you might wish? Today’s leadership model isn’t just about the expertise that you, personally, bring, but about the skills needed to synthesize a variety of perspectives and facts into a single, forward-looking strategy.
The Ups and Downs of “Gut Instinct”
We hear it a lot, both in business and personal contexts: “Trust your gut.” It’s such frequent advice that it’s a cliché at this point. Despite its commonality, this recommendation may not always be the most helpful when it comes to leadership and decision-making.
“A lot of people rely on their gut. That’s particularly dangerous for people who’ve been successful because their past successes give them confidence,” author and strategy consultant Amy Duke told Strategy + Business. “You see this with people who are very strong investors for a few years and then suddenly have a big setback. That’s usually a good clue that they were running off their gut and not approaching their decisions — their model of how the world works — with any kind of skepticism.”
Leaders who use their “instinct” as the basis for their decision-making aren’t necessarily wrong, but, as Duke explains, it does tend to close off avenues of new thought. In turn, that can run the risk of missing some key components due to overconfidence or unintentional blind spots. For leaders in the healthcare and case management field, those decision-making blind spots can have significant consequences.
As a result, it’s important for leaders to continually re-evaluate their own decision-making processes to ensure they’re not getting “automatic.” Leaders should also be challenging their own worldviews from time to time, actively seeking out new information and taking the time to consider how it relates to their existing knowledge. There are constant new developments happening, and leaders should be keeping up with what’s working and what isn’t so that these choices can be passed down to ultimately benefit the clients.
Clarity, Not Just Consensus
Case management, in general, focuses on providing both clarity and coordination to the process of providing care. Frontline case managers are tasked with streamlining and coordinating several components of care, while also ensuring that everyone involved, from care providers to individual clients to support systems, understands what’s going on and why. This system can help to ensure better outcomes (mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially), but it also requires significant negotiation and careful consideration. Shared, clear definitions and benchmarks are critical.
Executives too, should be pursuing a sense of clarity in their decision-making, not just vague consensus. Without clarity, in fact, an apparent “consensus” may not be so straightforward after all.
“We think that because we believe something, there’s a consensus among other people with that same understanding. But if you’re not defining the terms of a given situation in actual behaviors — concrete facts, rather than summary-level adjectives — you get a fundamental misalignment in how you understand a particular situation,” Duke explains.
Instead, executives should be leading the way to develop systems of ensuring that everyone is on the same page. Develop more concrete definitions of key terms and metrics, and find ways to ensure that these “standards” of understanding become part of the organizational culture. This is also the perfect point at which to bring in different perspectives, both individually and in group settings. Arriving at this clarity requires navigating and reconciling differences, and sometimes, those points of conflict can actually lead to improved processes and outcomes – but only if leadership recognizes them and takes time to work with them, rather than pushing past them in the name of “experience,” “instinct,” or “consensus.”
Leadership isn’t just about making those big decisions. It’s about being able to harness the power of different perspectives and perpetual learning in order to reach the best outcomes for all stakeholders. Case management is a field that is uniquely positioned to understand the significance of transparent, thoughtful, and multifaceted leadership, and today’s executives can set themselves (and their organizations) on a path to success by reframing their perspectives on leadership in this way.
By Michelle Boeckmann
Michelle Boeckmann, Founder of Healthcare Recruitment Partners, has over twelve years of experience placing seasoned leadership Case Management candidates in acute care hospitals and healthcare systems. She and her team, along with a database of over 32,000 professionals and counting, can give you an advantage in a competitive market, whether you’re looking for highly specialized talent or a need for a placement for an open position quickly and discreetly.