On our Web page we describe our work with clients as “assisting with
developing and implementing transformational change” which will
position their organizations for success in the future. Obviously, this
requires Transformational Leadership within the organization. I am frequently
asked for more clarification on the specific competencies related to leaders
who can lead a transformational process. Below, I have tried to do just that!
The average life span of Fortune 500 Companies is 40 to 50 years because
many do not embrace transformational change ahead of the curve. Organizations
that will stand the test of time will require innovative leaders who are
able to envision the future and prepare for such in a proactive manner,
rather than a reactive one. This is a critical success factor in the health
care industry, as more affordable high quality health care will not come
from an injection of more funding, but rather from innovations that aim
to make more and more areas of care cheaper, safer, and more accessible
Long term success will require resilience, because the innovation journey
is not easy. It often results in push-back from those who want to maintain
the status quo. Those who cannot see the future “vision” as
clearly must trust the innovative leader and give the “new journey”
their full support. Dealing with 'push-back' and securing the
trust of skeptics is difficult. Resilience is the ability to bounce back
from difficult or challenging experiences, to manage pressure, and to
adapt quickly to change while continuing to produce excellent results.
My experience has shown me that these traits can be learned and even improved
over time. Specifically, I believe the four key characteristics of resilient
leaders are the abilities to:
1. Accept reality
2. Find meaning in difficult situations
3. Make plans for a better future
4. Move quickly to solve problems, develop innovative strategies, and develop
processes for rapid implementation of these strategies.
It is important to recognize that as healthcare providers prepare to change
ahead of the curve, they can no longer benchmark themselves against their
own historical progress or that of their peers outcomes, but instead must
know what the new competitors are doing or planning to do. These are the
organizations that are ‘creating the new rebar”, a topic from
one of our recent blogs by our partner Jay Herron. They include technology
vendors, insurance companies, health plans, and retail providers like
Walmart and CVS. Providers of care must become increasingly skilled at
predicting the new settings where healthcare will be delivered and do
everything possible to move appropriate service lines to these venues
before the new competitors fill these voids. Transformational leaders
calculate this window of opportunity and clearly articulate and understand
the toxic side effects of not changing, as well as the risks associated
with leading such changes.
In addition, there are five other competencies that I believe successful
transformation leaders must incorporate into their leadership toolbox:
1. Maintain the right balance between being the market leader and disciplined
execution. This is not an either/or, but a both/and mind frame. To be
successful innovative strategies must be implemented as flawlessly as
possible, focusing on an 8 to 10 year future, but making sure that present
performance is operationally sound.
2. Continuously identify the required leadership competencies for transformational
success. Through performance improvement plans, these competencies can
be enhanced in the present team, and any voids must be identified and
filled by hiring from the outside. This often requires a disproportionate
share of the CEO’s time……developing and recruiting people!
3. Commitment to using a selective scorecard to measure business performance.
The metrics must be high enough and different enough to facilitate the
necessary changes envisioned. This will continue to require total transparency
of all data, but particularly that associated with quality, costs, accessibility,
business literacy, and financial success.
4. Recognize technology as a strategic asset. It is clear that clinical
performance, business strategy, and information and clinical technologies
must all converge. And to assure the organization is one of the first
to arrive at the head of the curve, its leaders must carefully and thoughtfully
evaluate and adopt new technologies in a timely manner.
5. Embrace the emphasis on continuous renewal. Transformational leaders
are continuously alert for competitive softness and vulnerability. Signs
of such are invading healthcare In a very significant way. Hence, leaders
must be on the lookout for new market opportunities and create a relevance
to the rapidly changing future, while maintaining a fierce pride in their
The roadmap for transformation leadership must be embraced by all the employees
in the organization. This will require constant communication of the rationale
for change, and helping each employee see clearly that, although some
things must be preserved in the current way of doing business, other things
must go away and be replaced by new approaches and new products. It must
be clearly stated that if an organization cannot stay ahead of the curve,
its long term future is at an extreme risk.