Health Care Leadership in Complex Complexity

Posted on Jul 28, 2014 in Executive Leadership, Healthcare Leadership, Leadership

Developing Inner Groundedness

There are no easy answers to leading in the complex complexity of today’s health care reform environment. The daily unpredictable nuances of change often confound leadership efforts to do what is right for people who need care. Yet effective leaders are finding ways to navigate the unsteady landscape as the complexity of health care delivery becomes more complex. The days of leading a single care delivery entity have faded into a new reality of multiple complex adaptive stakeholder systems in a web of networking organizations seeking common ground. Now, more than ever, leaders need to maintain an inner groundedness as the swirl of complexity creates a dizzying circle of change and challenges. The opportunity is to develop ways to remain inner grounded while the edge of chaos of the outer realm of health care organizations is dynamic. Leaders have to figure out how to maintain inner stability in the midst of outer instability. It is inner groundedness that will help leaders to stay purposeful and focused on the unchanging core values of health care delivery. So what can health care leaders do to develop inner groundedness? Here are several ideas for you to consider:

  • Become Self-Aware

Leading from a center of self-awareness helps you to remain grounded. Who am I? This question guides introspection and helps you to become more conscious about your thoughts, beliefs, feelings, strengths, and weaknesses. Reflecting on additional questions such as the ones that follow can help you deepen your self-awareness. Are you consciously tuned into your inner purpose? Are you clear about your core values? Are these values ethical and morally acceptable? Do you reflect on what you stand for? Do you focus on the reason you entered health care? Are you clear about your worldview? An ongoing practice of reflecting in action and on actions with conscious self-awareness can help you lead from a place of clarity and strength.

  • Embrace Authenticity

Leadership under the pressure of managing increased complexity requires authenticity. As an authentic leader you act consistently based on ethical core values. That consistency is also informed by an alignment between your ideal and real self. Your head and heart are in sync. This is the source of your integrity and honesty. Authentic leadership provides a firm ground on which to stand in uncertainty and complexity.

  • Engage in Health and Wellness Practices

Inner groundedness also depends on being healthy and well. A healthy diet and exercise are essential for well-being. In addition, meditation helps to support mindfulness, inner peace, and calm. Practices such as yoga encourage inner balance, integration of mind and body, and centeredness.

  • Develop a Positive Mindset

There is an old adage that suggests that there are two ways to look at situations—“the glass is half empty or half full”. The latter is about having a positive outlook, seeing organizational challenges through a lens of possibility and opportunity.  For health care leaders developing a positive mindset is the only way to thrive in the midst of complex complexity. According to Dr. Carol Dweck in her book Mindset, leaders with a “growth mindset believe that they can achieve by being dedicated and working hard” (www.http://mindsetonline).

The growth mindset helps leaders to be learners which develop resiliency through the ongoing learning process of leading in demanding times.

  • Lead from the Edges

In the current fractious health care environment that is filled with debate about reform implementation, it may be tempting to take sides and join in the conflict. But by doing this, it will minimize leadership effectiveness and distract even the best leaders from the common purpose of delivering quality care. By leading from the edges, leaders can learn from the different perspectives without getting mired in debates and engage in constructive conversations that focus on the key stakeholders—patients, families, caregivers, staff, and community.

In closing, developing inner groundedness may be the saving grace for health care leaders in complex complexity. As the Tao Te Ching stated, interpreted by John Heider in the Tao of Leadership, “The leader who is centered and grounded can work with erratic people and critical group situations without harm.”


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