Much of my leadership development work is in health care and I read a quote last week from Mel McNea, CEO of Great Plains Health (North Platte, Neb.) that stopped me in my tracks. Here it is:
“You have to have courage to work in the healthcare industry and even more so to be the CEO of a health system. Daily, you will be challenged with making decisions about direct patient care, new equipment, technology, process changes and so on. How do you manage the growing revenue commitments, such as constant monitoring of patient information, the explosion of software and the associated costs? These are just some of the uncomfortable decisions you will face as a health system CEO. You may never get comfortable, and that’s OK.”
Two things about this spoke to me.
- The need for courage. Both physical and psychological.
- The need to make uncomfortable decisions without having all the information you need.
In my coaching with leaders, these themes keep coming up. The rate of transformation that has led to as yet uncertain end point, and intensity of the work is exhausting. The pressure on front line staff AND their leaders has been immense and hasn’t let up appreciably. There are ebbs and flows depending on the rate of infection and hospitalizations but the constant need for critical safety procedures and the empathy required to be there for patients and staff are still huge.
You have my admiration, health care—front lines and leaders. Arguably, your industry has faced danger and experienced as many changes in processes, people, and technology as any. And I witness all of you continuing the struggle.
I see the toll on those leaders I have the privilege to work with. I see that by listening, you are sharing the load that others bear. By owning the tough decisions, you are aware of the sacrifice others have to make. You’ve been “on” for months, in spite of having precious little time to “be off.” And you’ve kept the hope for a better future when others have given in to fear, despair, and negativity. You have inspired me, health care.