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The Best Leaders Know When to Get Out of the Way

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, September 17, 2010

"What I'm looking for are individually talented people who have a strong experience background, but who are very good at working together," he says. "If I can't have someone with both, I'll default to a better team player."

That means finding a delicate balance of often-competing personality traits, he says. Team players can be short on the innovation front. High achievers can be impossible to work with.

"Are they candid with each other in constructive way? People who avoid conflict don't do well, and people who are lightning rods aren't solid either," he says.

So to me, that's the most important job of the CEO in healthcare these days. That is, hire talented people, and mostly, get out of the way, but know when to make that essential decision among lieutenants who may have disagreements. It's a fine balance. It's not for the timid, and it's not for the autocrats either.

If you ever played organized sports, you know what I mean. What's common about the CEOs I interviewed for this story is common among most good coaches. Their players will run through a wall for them not because of the many aspects of their life and work that the leader could potentially control, but because their leader stands behind them when they make a decision and they respect what he stands for.

We could use more people like this in healthcare, so I'm glad to see the good guys succeed.


Philip Betbeze is senior leadership editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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1 comments on "The Best Leaders Know When to Get Out of the Way"


Wayne Fischer, PhD (9/23/2010 at 12:00 PM)
That brief commentary was a "whole lot o' nuttin'." There are much more useful models of effective leadership to point readers to - e.g., Servant Leadership, or Brian Joiner's book "Fourth Generation Management." Even Juran's still timely "Managerial Breakthrough" will be much more helpful.